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Rubber Stamping 101

Updated on May 18, 2012

In the paper crafting world, rubber stamping is tops! This is due to the extreme amount of versatility that can be created with very few supplies. Unlike most crafts, rubber stamping does not require individuals to go out and buy hundreds of dollars of merchandise all at once, but rather, grow your collection over time. This collection, coupled wih an endless array of coloring mediums, dyes, blending chalks and embossing powders, offers crafters the ability to create thousands upon thousands of projects, all with the same stamp.

Unlike years ago when traditional rubber stamps consisted of the die, the cushion, and the wooden block, now there are many different kinds of stamps hitting the shelves each year, with each offering a host of different techniques and benefits.

Below is a comparison of the five different types of "rubber" stamps available on the market today. So grab your Prismacolor Pencils and decide which is best for you!

Wood-mounted Rubber Stamps

Wood-mounted rubber stamps are the most popular of their kind and are often what crafters usually visualize when the subject of rubber stamping comes up. They are made of an etched die atop a foam cushion mounted to a block of wood, making the handling and utilization of these stamps very user-friendly. Wood-mounted rubber stamps can be used on many different surfaces, with many different inking techniques.


Ease of Use: Wood-mounted rubber stamps are extremely user-friendly as the wood acts as an easy-to-grip handle which helps with the pressure and positioning of the stamp itself.

Detail: Wood-mounted rubber stamps are usually the most deeply etched, and therefore, carry the most detail.


Price: Wood-mounted rubber stamps can be very costly and are the most expensive of their kind.

Storage Space: Wood-mounted rubber stamps require the most amount of space.

Adaptability: Because of their solid structure, wood-mounted rubber stamps give you limited access to any item made with a curve (i.e., terra cotta pots).


Clear Acrylic Stamps

Clear acrylic stamps are very easy to use and are often most popular for their lack of storage space and price. Because of their transparent make-up, clear acrylic stamps make the lives of stampers much easier by being able to place the stamp exactly where you want. To use a clear acrylic stamp, all you need in your possession are clear acrylic blocks, found at most craft stores for a very reasonable price. These blocks allow each acrylic stamp to "stick" to them due to the tackiness of their backing.


Price: Clear acrylic stamps are much cheaper than wood-mounted stamps.

Storage Space: Because clear acrylic stamps lay flat, they are much easier to store and take up a lot less space than wood-mounted stamps, with many owners choosing to store them inside CD cases or binders.

Utilization: Due to the fact that you are able to see through the stamp, you are able to pinpoint the exact location of your image, taking out all the guess work.


Detail: Due to the soft edges of clear acrylic stamps, some times there is a lack of detail in imagines.

Fragile Make-up: If not careful, clear acrylic stamps can rip or tear when pulled off their sticky backing paper.

Loss of tackiness: If not cared for properly, the tackiness of the back of the clear acrylic stamp necessary for sticking to an acrylic block will be lost.

Unmounted Stamps

Unmounted stamps are essentially wood-mounted stamps, without the wood. They contain just the die itself and require a cushion and acrylic block. They are increasing in popularity due to their price tag and little space requirement, causing many large stamping companies to offer their stamps in this format.


Price: Unmounted stamps are much cheaper than traditional wood-mounted stamps.

Storage Space: Unmounted stamps take up very little space and can be stored in CD cases, binders and inside of drawers.


Preparation: Before you can use your unmounted stamps, they must be mounted to foam cushions and cut around the edges. This can be very time consuming up front.

Digital Stamps

Digital, or “digi,” stamps are quickly becoming one of the hottest trends not only in the rubber stamping arena, but in the paper crafts community-at-large. This is due to the fact that they are very cost-effective and take up virtually no physical space whatsoever. Digi stamps also benefit stampers because of their ability to be completely customized. Unlike all other physical stamps, digi stamps are downloaded to your PC where they can be rotated, flipped, or sized to meet your exact needs.


Price: On average, digi stamps are the cheapest stamps on the market.

Storage Space: Digi stamps take up virtually no physical storage space at all. They can be stored on hard drives, CDs, thumb drives and memory cards forever.

Customization: Digi stamps are completely customizable through PC software.


Smearing: If printer ink is not allowed to dry thoroughly, the ink can smear when coloring digi stamps.

Inability to Use Certain Techniques: Because you won’t be using traditional stamp pads, techniques such as embossing cannot be attained without tracing over the lines with an embossing pen.

Adaptability: You are unable to use digi stamps on fabric or any other material that is unable to be run through a printer.

Foam Stamps

Though foam stamps are still categorized with all other rubber stamping, they are much different. Foam stamps are usually made of large, bold designs and contain little to no detail. Unlike other rubber stamps that are traditionally seen being colored with watercolors and colored pencils, foam stamps are most often associated with acrylic paints.


Price: Foam stamps are much cheaper to use than traditional wood-mounted stamps

Adaptability: Foam stamps can be used on many different surfaces including fabric, wood and glass.

Easy to Use: Stampers of all levels, including children, will have no problem using these stamps.


Detail: Very little detail can be attained with foam stamps.

Inability to Use Certain Techniques: Because foam stamps are in block format, coloring techniques such as watercoloring are virtually impossible.


Which type of stamp is your favorite?

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