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Beginners Guide

A Guide to Rubber Stamping

By Sheelagh Tomsett

Different stamp types

Rubber Stamps

Rubber stamps come either mounted on wooden blocks, or unmounted for you to use with acrylic blocks. Because the rubber is firm (unlike clear stamps) you can always produce a crisp image.  With care they should last you a lifetime.

Stamps to me open up a wonderful world of possibilities and though an addictive hobby, it is very rewarding. You do not have to be an artist to create cards and art when there are so many stamp designs available.  Whether you use ink, paint, or a heat gun to transform embossing powder to a molten dimensional one, you will be hooked before you know it.

I love sitting in my craft room surrounded by my rubber stamps of all sizes, mounted, unmounted and in files, wondering which theme I need for a given card.

If you have a new rubber stamp giving disappointing results, it may be because it has residue from the release coating on the moulding. Try using sticky tape to remove any coating and then wash with soapy water. This usually does the trick.

Clear Stamps

Acrylic and silicone stamps are of a softer quality and sticky. Dye inks will bead on the surface, therefore making it very difficult to produce a solid inked image.  As they are so soft, you will need to stamp gently because the material might squish and the sides of the detail will transfer the ink instead of just the top edge, this will give a blurred image.  Practice first on scrap paper to find out how little pressure you will need. Versafine and chalk inks work well with these stamps.

Photo polymer stamps are made from a more porous material and are firmer, they accept ink more readily and therefore tend to give a crisp impression.  All inks* can be used - although they may stain the stamps, it will not make any difference to the stamped image.

You will need to remove the stamp from the packaging and place it on an acrylic block to use as they are self clinging.  If they lose their cling, wash with soapy water.  Be careful how you store the clear stamps as some acetates can melt into the clear stamps making it difficult to remove.  

If you invest  in good quality clear stamps and look after them, they should last indefinitely.

Clear stamps are not all the same.  Usually the cheaper the product the less quality when you print with the stamp.  Clear stamps are self clinging so do not require a cushion.  The advantage with clear stamps is the ability to see through it which is very useful for placement.

*Stazon (which is solvent based) is not recommended to use with clear stamps, it could damage them as it melts the cheaper quality stamps.

{Using your stamps}

Using your stamps

Wood mounted stamps have a cushion between the wood and the rubber.  A few companies sell their unmounted stamps cut to shape and with a cushion backing on ready for you to use with an acrylic block.  

If you would like to add a cushion backing to your unmounted stamps, you can purchase a sheet such as EZ mount. One side has an adhesive backing to attach to the stamp, the other side will cling to an acrylic block.  The sheet can be attached to the back of a sheet of stamps, and the images can then be cut out - keep the scissors vertical so that you do not undercut the cushion as this will effect the evenness of your stamped image.  

If you don’t want to attach a cling cushion, just use a glue stick on your acrylic block to hold the stamp, and wipe off after use.

It is helpful when stamping to use a padded surface such as the back of a mouse mat, a magazine or foam pad. This will ensure that the stamp will transfer the ink from all over and not leave blank areas.

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