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Stamping Basics

Updated on August 22, 2015
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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.

How To Mount An Unmounted Stamp - Some Tips And Tricks To Using Unmounted 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.

Justrite 16-Piece Papercraft Clear Stamp Set, 4 by 6-Inch, Large Fancy Sentiments
Justrite 16-Piece Papercraft Clear Stamp Set, 4 by 6-Inch, Large Fancy Sentiments

Sentiments are perfect on cards, but are also effective on scrapbook pages

 

Always apply firm even pressure to that stamp when stamping. Try not to slam the stamp or rock it to avoid over stamping or blurring

Fiskars 8x8 Inch Make A Wish Clear Stamps (01-005541)
Fiskars 8x8 Inch Make A Wish Clear Stamps (01-005541)

Quote stamps are outstanding for both cards and scrapbook pages. Everyone should have at least one set

 

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.

Complete Acrylic Block Set

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

Acrylic Blocks

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.

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

Make sure that you stamp on a flat surface. I like to use a craft sheet, but you can stamp on a flat table If you don't have a craft sheet, use a couple of magazines to create a layered surface that will help get a better stamped impression

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 !

  • Chalks I love the soft look of chalks. There are so many options in colors in chalks. From pastels to the fall colors, you can fund almost any palette available. They are usually applied with a soft piece of cotton. You can start with a lighter color and then shade with a darker color. Some chalks can be enhanced with a blender pen that also acts as a fixative.
  • Watercolor Pencils These are easy to use and you can blend and shade easier than even standard color pencils. Once you have colored to the desired effect, you add a little water with a paint brush to achieve the water color effect. If you want to get a more opaque effect, you wet the pencil first and then color with it
  • 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 coast more, in the long run, they are very good to your budget

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

  1. Using a spritz cleaner made specifically for stamps is a perfect choice to help you keep your stamps clean.
  2. 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.
  3. Reds, yellows and oranges will usually clean easily. They can often be tapped away on a clean piece of paper.
  4. Don't soak your rubber stamps in water. It will loosen the adhesive that holds the stamp on the block.

What kind of stamps are your favorites?

Which kind of stamps are your personal favorites?

See results

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


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

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

  • Ink
  • 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



To avoid destroying a layout due to a stamping mistake, create pieces of stamp art on separate paper. Stamp on a piece of paper and fussy cut. Adhere to your layout as an embellishment

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.

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
  • Animals
  • Baby and youth
  • Botanical
  • Celebrations
  • Feminine
  • Floral
  • Food
  • Holidays
  • Masculine
  • Patterns and textures
  • People and faces
  • Plants
  • Seasons
  • Travel
  • Themes a-z





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