Buying Rubber Stamps
- There are two basic types of rubber stamps- Mounted (attached to a wood or sometimes a foam block), and unmounted, sometimes called UM. Mounted stamps are generally more expensive and larger to store. Usually, the block it is mounted to will feature an image of the stamp with ideas for decorating or coloring your design. The Unmounted stamps are very small and flat, as well as very inexpensive. UM stamps don’t take up much room, but you will need to buy a Stamp Mounting Kit. A stamp Mounting Kit will include either Repositional (can be removed from the stamp) adhesive or permanent adhesive, as well as blocks to mount to, and usually some kind of thin padding to ‘cushion’ your stamp. *There are also clear stamps, which are not rubber at all, they are an acrylic polymer. You use these as you would unmounted rubber stamps, but you can see through them for easier placement.
- There are two basic types of ink pads- Pigment or Ink. Pigment ink pads stay moist for practically forever( I have a Pigment pad from 1991 that I still use faithfully). They allow you to stamp light colors on to dark paper. If you want to use Embossing Powder (I’ll discuss later), you are going to need a Pigment Ink Pad. Pigment Ink Pads also need a spray setter since this ink never really dries. Regular Ink Pads are made with a more liquidy ink, which can bleed into fibrous paper but dries quickly.
On this Fourth Of July layout, I used red, blue, gold and silver ink pads and three stamps- a larger firecracker, a medium heart, and a small heart. The stamps were used to decorate the double photo mats, the journaling block, and the letters July and USA. Also note that I used ink pads to accent the stars at the top, rubbing the edges of the star, then randomly ‘stamping’ the ink pad on the star. On one page, the star was inked with gold, the second star has red ink on it.
This is a close-up of the second page, to show the stamping detail. The three stamps, and four ink pads cost me less than $10 for all seven items, bought on sale. The firecracker stamp will work well for summer or military pages, as well as Chinese New Year layouts. The two hearts can be used again in just about any layout.
Stamps come in a million sizes and a billion shapes. The cheapest are not always inferior. Look at the design, the rubber of the stamp. Does it look like the design is deeply etched (cut) into the rubber? Is the image cleanly applied to the mount? Does the image on the stamp mirror the image on the woodblock? If all these answers are ‘yes’, you have found a decent-quality stamp. The rubber should appear fresh and pink, and smell fresh, not be brittle, sticky, or smell bad. The woodblock should not have big cracks or dents in the wood on the stamping side.
The cheapest way to start Rubber Stamping- buy two pigment ink pads (I really like the metallic, and was working on a wedding scrapbook so my color choices were Silver and Gold. A better choice might be Pink and Red for a little girl’s book, or Blue and Green for the Park, a Little Boy, or Frog Catching pages.). Now pick out three stamps- One should be a small heart or star (you will use these shapes over and over), one a medium stamp, and one should be a larger stamp (no more than 3×3 inches). Try to buy your supplies on sale when possible, on sale a Pigment Pad can be as cheap as $1 each. Many craft and superstores have a $1 section with rubber stamps. Those are still quality products, just less expensive.
Tips To A Successful Stamping:
- Work on a flat surface.
- Lay the stamp straight down onto the ink pad. If you rock the stamp, you risk getting ink on your woodblock or on the part of the stamp that is just flat rubber. Remember, anywhere the ink goes, will stamp as part of your image.
- Lift the stamp from the ink pad, place it where you want it on your page and press straight down. Again, do not rock or move the stamp.
- Lift straight off the paper and marvel at your stamped image.
- Clean your stamps before changing color ink or putting them away for storage. To clean stamps- stamp the last of the ink on a scrap paper, then use an alcohol-free baby wipe to gently remove the last of the ink.
If you would like your Pigment Ink stamped image three-dimensional and raised, you can use embossing powder. I prefer clear, although there are hundreds of types and colors. Stamp your image, immediately pour a small amount of powdered embosser and dump the excess back into the jar. Hold the page over a bare lightbulb or by a non-steam iron. There are heat guns for sale on the market, but a lamp is just as easy at the beginning.
Now, how to incorporate rubber stamping into a scrapbook:
- Make custom papers by randomly stamping all over a plain piece of cardstock. Vary the angle you hold the stamps. You can make background papers, mats, or even cut tags from this paper.
- Try creating a border for a page with a row or column of stamps dancing across the page. Stamp in just all four corners, or try filling in the gaps between photos.
- Stamp small images on tiny tags or round tags, then string them across your page. Stamp a round tag, hang a string from it, and you’ve made a balloon.
- Stamp on vellum. This looks very elegant if you use embossing powder.
- Stamp on die cut or plain letter stickers to add pizzazz to your page. When I do this, I vary the way I hold the stamp, sometimes overlapping one delicate design over another.
This is a Vacation layout, using the same two heart stamps as the previous layout, as well as the blue and red ink pads. The tag in the title block is inked with the red ink pad to add dimension.
I varied stamping angles on the paper, allowing some of the hearts to go over the edge of the page.