Stamping in the world of card making is huge right now. There is a stamp for pretty much everything you could think of. Its popularity stems from its simplicity. Anyone can take a stamp, press it into some ink and stamp that onto card or paper. You get a beautiful result that is inexpensive and easy to do. If you are a beginner when it comes to card making then stamping is an excellent place to start.
This guide aims to give you all you need to know about stamps. From the different types, what they’re best used for, how to clean and look after them and much more. We hope this will get you started on your way to buying and using many stamps!
Types of Stamps
If you are into crafting in any way then you will know that there are so many types of stamps available. They come in a huge selection of sizes, shapes, designs and functions.
There two major types of stamps: clear and rubber. The other big differences are mounted and unmounted stamps. We will look at those differences below and what the benefits and drawbacks are for each of them.
Mounted stamps just mean they are mounted via glue to a stamping block – a bit of wood or acrylic you hold as you stamp. They are extremely simple to use: you get ink onto your stamp and press it onto your card or paper. This simplicity may appeal, and rightly so, but mounted stamps do tend to be a bit more expensive. However if you are new to stamping then a few mounted stamps is a great way to begin.
Unmounted stamps come without the block attached to them, but have their own backing that gives you the option of attaching and removing them from your own stamping blocks.
An advantage of unmounted stamps is that they are a lot less bulky and easier to store than mounted. If you are low on storage space then you may want to consider unmounted stamps.
Clear Stamps are stamps that allow you see through them giving you the chance to see exactly where you are placing and stamping with them. They are completely transparent and tend to be made from clear acrylic or photopolymer. As mentioned with unmounted stamps above, clear stamps will need to be attached to a stamping blocks to use them.
One advantage of clear stamps is the price – they are cheaper. They are usually smaller and seeing as they come without a backing they tend to be less expensive than rubber stamps. As they are small you can also group them together when attaching them to a stamping block. This means you can really customise and build your designs.
Probably the biggest difference between rubber and ear stamps is that rubber aren’t transparent. Instead they are mounted onto a wooden or acrylic stamping block. The rubber material they are made from is very long lasting and string, meaning it can take some heavy punishment and lots of use. They also withstand high temperatures, meaning you don’t have to worry about using them with something like embossing other special crafting techniques. You will also find rubber stamps easy to clean and tend to stain less than their counterparts.
Probably the greatest advantage of rubber stamps is their simplicity. Being mounted you just pick them up and stamp. No fuss. Whereas the clear stamps can lose the power of the glue on their backs over time.
You can find stamps out there that combine the two types, giving you the advantages of both. If this appeals to you then they can be found by some of the big stamping brands.
Choosing a Stamp
Getting the right stamp for your project and cards is imperative. But knowing which suits may be tricky especially if you are new to card making. There are so many stamps out there in so many sizes and shapes it can be daunting. Hopefully below will give you an idea of which stamps suit what you are looking to achieve.
As above, knowing if you want a long lasting, durable stamp or one that you can see through for accuracy is important. Consider this will help you to decide if you will prefer a rubber over a clear. Do you not have or need to store space? Go for clear. Do you want something easy to begin with? Go with the rubbers.
Stamps come in many diffuses so considering how large your project is going to be is key. If you get a very small stamp but find your card is going to be much larger you will have problems. And vice versa with a big stamp and small card.
This will tie in with the design below but thinking about the type of card you’re making will have a big influence on the type of stamp you get. Is it going to be a birthday card, invitation, thank you note etc. Your stamps will need to compliment whatever the card is you’re designing.
As stamps come with their designs as both outlines and solid image you will need to think about the sort of design you want. If you’re doing a verb vibrant card then maybe a more bold, solid design will be better. If it’s a subtler card then perhaps a quieter outlined stamp will fit.
To actually use your stamps you will need some ink to go on them. As with stamps there are a whole myriad of ink pads out there and if you were struggling with the stamps themselves you might well be struggling with the pads. Here we’ll go through the different types and hopefully clear it all up for you.
Dye ink is probably the best choice for card and paper. Its quick drying, permanent and quite thin on its consistency. It will however fade somewhat over time. Whilst it’s good for most porous surfaces avoid using it on glossy ones as it won’t dry and just smudge.
Most dye ink isn’t waterproof meaning you will not be able to colour your stampings after with any water based pens or paints as the inks with run.
It is also fairly easy to clean off stamps.
Pigment ink is fairly thick in its consistency. It’s colours come out very vibrant and bright, and don’t fade over time, but this does mean it takes longer to dry. The ink actually sits on top of the paper or card without soaking in. Again, it won’t work with glossy surfaces.
It also is tricky to remove or clean from stamps. So be warned!
Chalk ink is fast drying and doesn’t smudge or bleed. It can also be used on glossy surfaces. It creates a chalk-like effect that doesn’t have a dusty or chalk residue and is classed as a pigment ink.
Distress ink are a type of water based ink that have a sort of distressed and worn look to their colours. They stay wet for quite a while which gives you the opportunity to blend them. They also work quite well on glossy surfaces.
Cleaning and Looking after Ink Pads
Ensuring your ink pads stay healthy and in good condition is essential to stamping. To keep them in tip top shape make sure you remember these few things:
- Put the lid back on it! If you don’t you’ll soon find you have a withered ink pad.
- Keep it clean. Ink pads pick up a lot of dust and other bits and pieces. If it gets other colours on it then tap it off with a paper towel.
- Regularly re-ink it. They often come with an re-ink so it’s easy to just put a few drops onto the pad. Easy and quick to do. Do a quick test to see if you’ve got too much or not enough. If too much blot it, if not enough then add a little more until you’re happy.
These few simple steps will keep your ink pads useable long into the future.
Using your Stamps
Using your stamps is straightforward. Lift and press the ink pad into your stamp then press it down onto the card/paper or other surface. Wait for a few seconds then lift your stamp. If the surface is glossy then make sure you don’t let it slide as this can lead to smudged images.
The exception to this is when using a large stamp. You may then prefer to lay the stamp down and put the ink onto it.
But for the most part you should try to bring the ink pad to the stamp, not the other way round. It will guarantee you get all the ink on your stamp. Try not to go over the top with your inking and get it all over the stamp and mounting block rather than just the raised area.
Embossing With Your Stamps
Embossing with your stamps or stamp is a fairly simple process. Before starting wipe your stamp over with either a tumble dryer sheet or anti static pad to make certain the embossing powder only sticks to the stamp image, nothing else.
- Begin by inking your stamp and stamping it onto the card.
- Use your chosen embossing powder and place it into your stamped image.
- Get rid of any excess powder and then heat the image with your heat gun.
For a more in depth guide to embossing see our embossing guide.
Storing your Stamps
You should make sure your rubber stamps are kept out of the sunlight when stored as they may fade. Some rubber stamps come with what’s called a cling cushion that is stuck on a laminated index sheet for the stamp to be stored on. You can of course add your own backing to the stamps.
Clear stamps will usually come with two sheets outside of them. You should try to store them in this after use.