Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.
Stamping Technique Basics
Craft stamping is a versatile craft where you can turn the ordinary into something truly amazing. Stamps provide you with an image that you don't have to draw yourself. But, they enable you to be creative and express your artistic side in each piece .There are stamps to suit every occasion. You can buy stamps as individuals and in sets.
There are basically two types of stamps- outline and solid. Solid stamps have a very detailed design that is just inked to create a design. Outline stamps have an outline and are colored by different techniques to create an image.
There are three types of stamps that you can choose to stamp your images. Each type of stamp has it's own features and uses. You can choose from rubber stamps, foam stamps and acrylic stamps or clear stamps. Each has a distinctive advantage that makes a unique image.
Stamped images can be used on greeting cards, scrapbook pages and all types of paper craft projects.
Stamping is one of the most popular crafting techniques ever ! I know that for me there isn't one week where my hands aren't stamping and coloring either a card or a scrapbook page. I guess it goes back to my childhood when I loved to color in coloring books. Well, now I do big girl coloring with delightful stamps and delicious inks.
The basics aren't hard to learn and once you do, you will find that you want to learn more. We're starting with the basics here to wet your creative appetite.
Acrylic Or Rubber Or Foam Stamps
The Differences Between Different Types Of Stamps
The main difference between Acrylic stamps and the others is that you can see through the acrylic stamp. This makes it easy to see where you are stamping. This type of stamp has some stickness to it. It clings to an acrylic block which is used to stamp it. The problem with acrylic stamps is in the way they are manufactured. There are poor quality and better ones. When you purchase the cheaper ones, they often will yellow and stretch. They often harden and lose their cling after a time. But like any other tool, if you take care of them properly, you will have them for a lifetime
The rubber stamp is often mounted on a wooden block. It's held on with self adhesive foam. Some rubber stamps are un mounted so you have to have a way to actually to hold the rubber stamp on, usually with an adhesive foam or an acrylic block. Rubber stamps generally give the most detail-that is fine lines and shading-then the other stamps The rubber stamp is also the most durable of the stamps. Taken care of properly, they will last a lifetime.
Foam stamps are generally mounted on a foam block. They generally give very little detail but still have some good design options. Foam stamps are more solid images that are softer. They are perfect for design looks when you are working with backgrounds
The final difference is durability. The rubber stamps can take some techniques, like bleaching and stayson ink, where other stamps may not be durable enough to deal with those.
Am I recommending one over the other ? Not at all ! I love each one of them. I have lots of each type in my craft room. What I am saying is that you need to know how to use each one so that you get the most for your craft dollar.
More Rubber Stamp Basics
Rubber Stamps mostly often come mounted on a wood block. Sometimes on the back of the block, they have a picture that is colored to give you ideas about use of color and design. When you stamp with these stamps, you are not able to see where the stamp will be set, so it's important to line things up as you work with your design. You can also get rubber stamps in unmounted stamps. They are cheaper because they need to be mounted by you. Mounting these stamps is very easy. You simple need mounting foam and acrylic block. The mounting foam is sticky on both sides, You mount the stamp on the foam and then stick it onto the acrylic block. The choice is up to you on which ones you prefer.
Probably the most popular craft that people use rubber stamps for is greeting cards. There are so many ways to use rubber stamps on cards. As a beginner, you will want to start off with the basics. Click here to get some ideas to make basic greeting cards with rubber stamps.
Getting Started Buying Rubber Stamps
Your options are endless when buying rubber stamps. They come as single stamps or in sets. I suggest that you start with some basics and expand your collection from there. One set of alphabet stamps in a font that you like is a good idea. These can be used for both cards, scrapbooking and paper crafts. I would also suggest some birthday images. They will get used. If you are into cards, then some sentiments, would also be a smart idea. Think carefully about each purpose and how you are going to use them.
Using A Stamp Positioner
A stamp positioner helps you place your image in the exact location that you want. This can be important , especially when you are using rubber stamps. Because you cannot see through the wood and rubber of the stamp, a stamp positioner is a handy tool. Using one will cause you to have less frustration and more joy and satisfaction.
Lots of people are using stamp positioners with clear stamps too. Sometimes it is difficult to get a stamped saying or image within another image. The stamp positioner makes it easy every time.
The stamp positioner is similar to an angled ruler. There are metal ones as well as clear plastic ones. There are however, different designs that you can use. Fiskars has a unique all in one concept the you can see below. There is another design called " Stamp-A-Ma-Jig that is a little different. There tools average between $8-$12 dollars. They are a good buy especially for beginner stampers.
The nest step up would be a stamping platform. These are acrylic platforms with lines crossing the top. They have springs. You ink the stamp and place it where you want it. You move the stamp on your project and push down to stamp. These average $16-$25 each. However they cannot be used with mounted rubber stamps.
Cleaning Your Rubber Stamps
Your rubber stamps are an investment. Keeping them clean is an important part of making them last for years to come. There are many benefits of keeping your stamp clean.
- First, cleaning your rubber stamp between ink pad colors will keep your inkpads from getting contaminated with another color
- Over a period of time, inks left on a rubber stamp will blur the image
- Unclean stamps gather dirt and dust that will result in bad image
Before you start cleaning your stamps, tap them once or twice on a paper towel to get any excess ink off the stamp.
Alcohol free baby wipes are perfect for cleaning your rubber stamps. Though they may not get into all the crevices of the stamp, they are a handy way to clean the stamp between colors.
These cleaners are made to clean your rubber stamps. They typically come in a bottle, often with a dauber on the top so that you can clean the stamp. There are also stamp pads that are cleaners. One side of the stamp is for scrubbing and the other side is for drying. You apply some cleaner to the scrubber side. Run the stamp over the cleaner. When you are happy with the results, use the dyer side to get any excess off.
Soap And Water
You can use dishwashing soap and an old toothbrush to clean your rubber stamps. But never soak a rubber stamp that is mounted on wood in a dishpan or water. The water may damage the stamp by pulling the stamp away from the wood.
The stamp shammy is a cloth that when activated with water will clean the ink off your rubber stamps. The cloth is reusable and you never have to wash it. It works even when the cloth is covered with ink. I would not be without this tool.
Rub It Scrub It
This tool is used to help you clean all kinds of stamps and tools where you may have used inks. It is safe for stamps and can be used over and over again. Can be used with stamp cleaners or soap and water. Allow to air dry.
Things You Can Do With Rubber Stamps
Think beyond just stamping a single image with your rubber stamps. The fun and creativity to use these go way beyond that. You just need to think about creative uses for your rubber stamps.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Stamp some images on a plain gift bag for a more custom look
- Stamp the outside of an envelope and color it
- Stamp some images on your kids lunch bags
- Decorate candles
- Make party invites
- Make a gift card holder
- Create custom wedding decor
- Stamp napkins
- Stamp on gift wrap
Rubber Stamp Tips
Here are some tips that will help you get the most from your rubber stamps:
- Never rock your stamps when you are making an image. This will make an impression of the edge of the stamp plus the image you are stamping
- It never hurts to do a test stamp image before you stamp your project. Just keep some scrap paper on your work surface to do it.
- Reink your stamp before you repeat an image. That way you will get a clean clear image every time.
- Touch the paper only once with the stamp. If you hit the paper with the stamp more than once, you more than likely will get a double image,
Conditioning Stamps Before You Use Them
Have you ever bought a brand new stamp or stamp set that just did not give a good image the first time out? Maybe you may have thought that there was something wrong with the stamp set. Well there is one step that you should take every time you get a new stamp set, called stamp conditioning that will take the frustration away. There are sometimes residue left after the manufacturing process that may keep you from getting a clear image. This can be used on all types of stamps. Whichever method you use, keep a light hand.
Here are the steps to get the perfect image from day one. Just chose the method that works best for you.
- The Ink, Stamp And Repeat Method-All you need is some scrap paper and some ink. Ink up the stamp and stamp ; Repeat until you get a clear image. Not to worry if the rubber or polymer stamp gets stained. It will not affect future images.
- The Eraser Method-Lightly rub a white eraser over the stamp surface. The surface of the stamp may appear a little whiter and that's perfectly ok. Use a microfiber cloth to remove any eraser bits. Clean the stamp with dish soap and water or stamp cleaner before using it.
- The Sanding Block Method-This is for red rubber stamps only ! Use a foam sanding block very gently with super fine sanding grit on it. Clean the stamp before using it.
Anytime you are not getting a perfectly good image, give the eraser method a try !
More Acrylic Stamp Basics
If you have never tried acrylic stamps, you are missing an opportunity to expand your crafts farther than you thought might be possible. These stamps are truly real art in it's best form. With an acrylic block and a stamp that clings to it, you can create an image of fine detail. Like any other collection, start with the basics and add on. Think about the stamps that you have and add some new dimension to your collection.
They come in a set of stamps that usually has a specific theme. Could be things like birthdays, get well, flowers, butterflies, pets, ect. Some sets will include a sentiment or a saying along with the images. The stamps are mounted on a piece of thin acrylic. The image is printed on the acrylic base so that once you use them, you can place them back on the base. There is a second layer of acrylic to keep the stamps clean. The set fits into a clear plastic envelope.
If you are just starting out in stamping or acrylic stamps, start with the most common basic themes like birthdays, holidays and your special interests.
Acrylic stamps will stain and that is ok. It will not cause them not to stamp in future projects any differently.
These stamps are mounted on acrylic blocks or a stamping platform (purchased separatly) to stamp with them. You simply line up the stamp on the block or platform, ink it and stamp. It's that easy.
Layered Stamps have come a long was and now are used by a lot of stampers to go beyond a single layered image. You pick one to three colors in the same family, depending on the stamp set you are using. The lightest color is used on the bottom layer. Then you build additional layers in darker colors as you go.
One thing to remember is that acrylic stamps need to be stored in a cool place. Because they are made of plastic, they will go bad if they are too warm.
What Are Photopolymer Stamps?
Photopolymer stamps are clear plastic stamps. They are very much like acrylic stamps in the way that they perform. The only difference is that they are made of a higher quality material and will generally last longer.
This may especially be true with certain types of inks like Stazon. Repeated use of this ink with acrylic stamps may not make them as durable over time as photopolymer or rubber stamps would be.
Photopolymer stamps are made with a material that is more flexible,and less likely to warp or crack over time. Because of the higher grade of plastic, they will often give you a crisper image.
Types Of Inks That You Can Use To Stamp
- Pigment Inks Bright and Opaque in color, pigment inks are thicker and slower to dry. And that feature makes it perfect for heat embossing. Some of these inks are available in metallic, chalk finishes and pearlescent finishes. These inks are generally slow drying. Always check the label on the ink pad for individual drying times. The drying time will depend on the weight and texture of the material you are stamping on
- Tinted Clear Embossing Ink These pads are filled with clear, slightly (blue) tinted glycerin based embossing fluid which is especially formulated for use with heat embossing powders. They are specifically designed to dry slowly so that you have time to add embossing powders to the image. These are generally on foam pads. However, they do also come in pens with chisel tips for fine embossing.
- Permanent/Solvent Inks These are available in both water based and solvent based colors. They can be used on most cardstock paper as well as wood, acetate, shrink plastic, glass, metal, leather and acrylic surfaces. You may need a special cleaner for these inks. You should always use these inks in a well ventilated area.
- Resist Inks These inks are made to resist or repel water based dye inks on glossy paper. It can also act like a "glue" for chalks and paint powders
- Dye Based Inks These inks are water based. They are mainly non-permanent inks and are on felt pad. They come as a single or multi colored pad. They are translucent and dry quickly. They can be used on most papers, but appear crisper and brighter when stamped on bright glossy paper
- Amalgam Inks. Amalgam Ink works perfectly with Copic Markers, Watercolors and Colored Pencils with Gamsol. No bleeding, dark vibrant color! One pad that does it all! Allow to dry for a minute or two prior to use or heat set for faster drying time.
- Hybrid Inks. Hybrid inks are a cross between dye and pigment inks. They are fast drying inks that are more opaque more like pigment inks
- Chalk Ink. Similar to pigment ink but has a chalky finish. Dries very quickly. Best used with dark card stock
- Embossing Ink. This ink is very thick and sticky. Dries very slowly.Mostly used for embossing techniques.
- Alcohol Inks. Dye based ink in very vivid colors on glossy or coated paper. More muted finish on non coated or textured paper. Considered a permanent ink. Can be used on multiple other surfaces.
All About Craft Inks - Tips, Ideas And Uses For Craft Inks
I love to use inks on all my paper craft projects. I get so much satisfaction from creating art work for my cards, scrapbook pages and crafts. Always store your ink pads upside down. I use a rubber band around the ink pad to keep the lid firmly on. Always clean your stamps before changing colors to prevent the colors getting muddy. If you are refilling the ink pad, only use refill ink from the same manufacturer with the same exact color to get the best results
- Using a layered stamp? Always use a lighter color for the base. Then add the darker colors as you build the layers.
- Always put the lid back on your ink pad even with only a short break. The inbk will last longer
- Store dye based ink upside down and your ink will always be ready to use.
- Always clean your stamps before you change color. Otherwise you will contaminate other pads with colors that do not match.
- Take your ink pad to the stamp rather than pressing the stamp into the pad. You will avoid over inking the stamp and creating a mess when you go to use it.
- Check your stamp before you use it. Check for too much ink or no ink on parts of the stamp
Acrylic Blocks And Tools
Unlike rubber stamps, clear stamps are not mounted. They have a sticky base and they are made to adhere on acrylic blocks. You will need several sizes of acrylic blocks- many come in sets. The best acrylic blocks have marks on them so that you can stamp exactly where you want to place the image. Use an acrylic block that will hold the entire stamp. You will need to press firmly and evenly on the block to create an even image. before you stamp wipe any ink that has gone on the acrylic stamp so it does not transfer on the paper. You can use baby wipes to clean your acrylic blocks or stamp cleaner. Wipe dry with a clean paper towel.
More Stamping Tools
Stamping Tools are a must when doing layered stamping.
Layered stamps have several images that add different areas of definition to the design. They are layered one over another, so a stamping tool is a neccessity for these types of stamps
The Misti (The Most Incredible Stamping Tool Invented)- This is a very popular tool for stamping. It comes in two sizes. The mini size has a stamping area of 6 by 4.7 inches. The original size has a stamping area of 6.5 by 8.5 inches. The largest Misti is the Memory version. The stamping area for this product is 12.5 by 12.5.The product has a hinged acrylic lid that holds the stamp in place.The base holds the paper with magnets that come with the platform. The nice thing about the Misti is that you can stamp the i,mage over and over again. You can also stamp more than one image on the paper. It is an investment that you will get a lot of use from.
Stamping Platforms are tolls that will help you create images anywhere on a piece of paper. They come in different sizes but they all function the same way. The platform is made from acrylic and has marks that guide you where to place the stamp. The feet have springs. So, you press down to create the an image.
Coloring Your Stamped Images
If you were like me and loved coloring as a child, then you will really have a good time coloring your stamped images. There are so many options to color your stamped images. You really are only limited by your imagination. I use different techniques depending on my project and my mood. It's all up to you as an artist ! Bring out your creativity ! Give it a try !
No matter what you are using to color your stamped images, always start with the lighter color first and work into the darker color. Use three colors in the same color family for the most realistic results.
- Colored Pencils- the easiest tools to color stamped images. They color with a very soft look. Colors blend well. They are easy to use. Very little mess. All you may need is a pencil sharpener, an eraser and a blender pencil
- Water Color Pencils-they work like colored pencils, but with water. You need a good strong paper to use these and some watercolor brushes. They are purchased in sets
- Water Colors-Yes, you can paint with watercolors. You do have to use a water proof ink like Stazon ink . Otherwise your image will bleed. You need a very heavy or watercolor paper to use this medium.
- Markers- these are probably the most popular medium to color stamped images. They come in all kinds of media like alcohol inks, water colors metallic and more.
Stamping With Markers
There are so many markers available to you in all types of price ranges. You can opt from simple gel markers, gelatos, Copics and Spectrum Noirs. All of these markers can be used to color your stamped images. Some of them are even used to stamp your images. Purchase the best markers that you can afford. Start with the basic colors and then build your collection. While refillable markers initially cost more, in the long run, they are very good to your budget
Markers are a great alternative when you do not have the exact color of ink that you need. It gives you far more range than most of the stamp pads that you may have.
Remember to keep your markers from drying out always store them where there is no sun on them. Make sure to store them where it is neither too hot or cold.
You can get different styled nibs to make your stamping easier. For overall coverage of your stamp, you will want to use the largest nib on your marker
- When in inking stamps with markers. always start with the lightest colors first. this will help you avoid contaminating the paler nibs with the darker ones
- Use a blender pen to touch up any part of your image that has not stamped clearly.
- If you're trying for a water colored effect, go for water-based markers. These will fade together slightly, creating a blurred water color effect.
- If you're trying layer, or create a permanent effect on a variety of surfaces, go for alcohol and solvent based colors.
- In addition to using water-based markers, spritzing your stamps lightly before inking them can help with the water colored effect. If you want a strong water color effect, take a small spray bottle filled with water. Spritz your stamps lightly before you get to work on inking them
- Want a cute background, just stamp a sentiment all over the base of the card. You can do this in one color or use different colors. Makes a clean easy card.
- Color your stamp with the brush tip of your marker. Use a swiping motion.
- Multiple colors can make for a striking stamped image. Switch up colors as needed to create the desired effect
- Work quickly so the ink stays wet. Marker can dry much faster than ink. Therefore, work as quickly as you can while still keeping steady. You want to make sure the marker ink remains wet so you can successfully transfer your image to a page
- If you want a subtle look to a background, stamp an image from the same set as your main image in a close color to the background paper. Just make it slightly darker than the actual paper. It will continue the theme without taking away from the main image.
How To Ink A Stamp
You can use almost any wet colorant to ink a stamp. The most commonly used ones are ink pads and brush markers.
Always make sure that your stamp is clean and dry before using it
The best way to ink a wood mounted stamp is to set it flat with the rubber side up. If it an acrylic stamp, place in on an acrylic block and set it with the acrylic side up. Open the ink pad and dab the ink on the stamp. Make sure that all surfaces are covered. Never grind or rub the stamp on the pad or apply excessive pressure.
Smaller stamps can be pressed directly on the ink pad. They can be tapped into the ink Never rub the stamp across the pad..
When using brush markers, color directly on the raised surface with the side of the marker rather than the tip. That way you will avoid damaging the tip. If using more than one color, start with the lighter color first, blending into the darker shades. Brush markers containing dye ink dry quickly, so just before you stamp. "huff" on the stamp with a short burst of breath to re activate the ink.
If you want to see if the design is evenly inked, hold the stamp at an angle
Once you have applied the color, position the stamp gently over the paper in the area that you want to stamp. Press the ink stamped straight down onto the paper and allow to dry
How To Clean Stamps
Keeping you stamps clean will help you make your craft investment last for years. There are a few things to remember when cleaning your stamps. You can use a cellulose sponge to clean your stamps. The sponge can be dampened with water and/ or a little mild liquid soap. Rub the stamp across the sponge. Rinse and dry. Keep the damp sponge in a plastic container so that it handy whenever you need it. Make it a habit to clean your stamp after each use so that the ink does not set into the surface
- Using a spritz cleaner made specifically for stamps is a perfect choice to help you keep your stamps clean.
- There is a difference between a stamp being clean and stain free. Some inks, like memory ink will never come completely clean. Just clean the stamp as well as you can and don't worry about the stain that remains.
- Reds, yellows and oranges will usually clean easily. They can often be tapped away on a clean piece of paper.
- Don't soak your rubber stamps in water. It will loosen the adhesive that holds the stamp on the block.
- Baby wipes are ideal for cleaning stamps.They are a quick way to wipe off excess ink to that you can use another color.
- Most acrylic stamps can be cleaned in soapy dish detergent and water. Always avoid any cleaning material that has alcohol in it
- Make sure to clean your acrylic block when you clean your stamps
- There are special cloths that will clean acrylic stamps with just water
What kind of stamps are your favorites?
You do not even need a stamp pad for this technique. This technique however is best done on darker paper for the best results. All you do is dip your stamp into splash less or gel bleach and stamp it on your dark paper. You can watch the results happen before your eyes as the paper oxidizes. Make sure to wash your stamp right away in dish detergent and water after doing this technique. Be patient with this technique. It may take up to 10 minutes to dry.
Tips For Bleach Stamping
- Always do this technique in a well ventilated room. It can get a little stinky
- Keep your bleach in a glass jar rather than handling a jug
- Use fresh bleach-You will not get good results if your bleach has been sitting around for a while.
- Clean your stamps right away. Dab with a wet paper towel right after stamping or immerse the stamp in soapy water. You will minimize any damage from the bleach.
- Wear old clothes or protect them
- Protect your stamps. Ink up your stamp with Versa Mark ink and then stamp off to protect your stamp from the bleach.
- Create a stamp pad by saturating a folded paper towel with bleach. Put it in a plastic stamp case or on a plastic plate.
Layered Stamps Create Beautiful Effects
Layered stamp sets are all the rage and rightfully so. In those sets you get several layers of the same image. You get a base and an outline stamp. Using a lighter color as the base and a darker color as the outline, you can create beautiful effects in very little time. The images almost appear to be hand drawn.
You can use different tones in the same tones in a color family. Or you can create a soft tone for the base and a darker tone for the outline. There are lots of options when it comes to stamp layering.
Repeated Sentiment Background
More Stamping Techniques
There is no way that I could cover all the ways to stamp. So here are a few more ideas that You may enjoy learning
- Grid Technique Tutorial - Splitcoaststampers
An online community for art stampers and scrapbookers
- Inking With Markers
I have really gotten into this technique. It is so neat, gives great results and is just pretty
- 3D stamping
You can actually create a 3D Look with this technique
- Alcohol Ink Technique
You are not going to believe the results of this technique done with alcohol inks
Storing Your Stamps
How you store your stamps is dependent on the amount of stamps that you own and the space that you have to store them. As your collection grows, it's helpful to store your stamps by category. Set up your categories as you think. You might have categories like holidays, birthday, nature, sayings.....use what's best for you !
Store them in boxes or drawers. I started with those decorative boxes that you can often buy at your local craft store. They are made for storing photos, but I have always used them for craft storage. You can often find them on sale for 6 for $10. Then I just take my label maker and label what's inside.
Right now, I have them in large drawers that were originally used for paper storage. I also keep one drawer for my dabbers and stamping tools, one for my acrylic blocks and one for stamping tool cleaning supplies. That way I can go to one location for all of my stamping supplies.
I have recently purchased a scrap rack. Now all my acrylic stamps will be in my rack by category.
Again depending on your space and your collection, you could also keep them in a large tool box, in plastic boxes and then in a bin, or in pizza boxes.
How To Catalog Your Stamps
No matter what your storage system is for your stamps, it is important for you to create a stamp catalog that you can keep somewhere close to your work area. Once you have our stamps organized, then making a catalog will help you know what you have and where that particular stamp is. That way you craft time will be a lot more fun because you will be able to coordinate your stamps for whatever project that you chose to make.
What You Need To Create Your Stamp Catalog
- Your Stamps
- A 3 Ring binder Or Some Binder Rings
- A Permanent Marker
First step is to create an index of all the topics of stamps that you may have. For example you may have topics like holidays, or you may decide to list each holiday. It's up to you ! I like to type my list on my computer as a document. Then, I can always add to my index.
Now print each stamp on some cardstock -I like to use 8x10 pages that I can slip into a page protector. Number each stamp set. List on each page where the stamp is located and if it is a rubber or acrylic stamp. Place each page in its section.
You could also add an index of your inks to the same binder !
The alternative to a binder, would be to print each stamp on a index card, add the same information. Punch a whole in each card and use either ribbon or binder rings. This is a wonderful portable idea that can also be used when you shop
Themes To Use When Organizing Your Stamps
You can organize your stamps any way that suits you, but I like to keep it simple ! Keeping your groupings together and labeled makes it easy for you to find exactly what you need
- Alphabets and numbers
- Baby and youth
- Patterns and textures
- People and faces
- Themes a-z
© 2014 Linda F Correa