Rubber Stamps - different types

Rubber stamping has been around for many years now - I know I first had a go in 1996, but in recent years the popularity seems to have increased and there are now several different product types.  Those of you that are brand new to stamping may not know where to start, so this is a quick guide from my knowledge on the different types of stamps.

There is a section dedicated to stamping on the forum: rubber stamping forum

Wooden mounted rubber stamps
I am pretty sure this was how they started, and were certainly my first purchases.  They consist of a rubber stamp, mounted onto a cushion if foam, and then onto a wooden block.  The wooden block has an illustration of the stamp, and is sometimes coloured to give you an idea of how to use the stamp.

When purchasing a stamp like this I would check a few things that will help you get a better finish as a beginner:

  • Firstly see how closely it is cut to the design - the closer it is cut the easier it will be for you to not get extra marks. 
  • Check the depth of the design away from the rubber, the deeper cut ones will also easier
  • Look at the stamp and make sure there are no pits or marks,
  • Feel it to make sure that the rubber is not rock hard - I have bought a couple in the past that have never given a good finish, as they are just too hard.

    Sometimes brand new stamps need cleaning to remove some of the residue left in manufacturing. Try removing this with sellotape, or follow the cleaning stamps tips at the end of the page.
  • A selection of stamps in my collection

    Unmounted stamps that I have mounted:

    Un-Mounted rubber stamps
    These are the same as the stamps on wooden blocks, but they literally are not mounted onto a block.  So check out the tips above.  Always presume that they are just the rubber and nothing else unless otherwise stated.  They often come on a complete sheet if you buy a set, and you will need to cut each of them out.  I do this with nice sharp scissors and cut them as close as I dare to the design. 

    Once you have cut them you have two choices
     - you can mount them onto another product such as "EZ mount", "tack and peel", "hook and loop", "Kling on". These all do the same thing they offer extra cushioning and a method to attach them to a block.  Once you have found a product you like, I would stick to it, and then you can use more than one stamp on a block, and your 'system' will be more interchangeable. I like the cling foam products such as EZ mount, but it really is personal preference. 
    click here for more advice on mount products

    Cutting these products is very sticky and there are non stick scissors available, I just use ordinary scissors and clean them with WD40 afterwards. Any exposed 'tack' I put talcum powder on it, before I expose the cling side.

     - your second choice is to just put the stamp straight onto a block (or something firm like a CD/cassette case), and adhere it using Pritt, Tombow or similar glue. You will get better results by offering some cushioning under your card such as a magazine or firm sponge, too soft and it will effect your results too.

    The nice thing about using UMs and a see through block - is you can see where you are stamping.

    Here is a set from The Artistic Stamper that I still need to cut out.

    Clear Stamps
    There are loads of these available now - virtually unheard of a while back.  The stamps themselves will just cling straight to an acrylic block and are fairly springy and do not require cushioning.  Although with some stamps using a magazine as described above can improve results.

    If you find they stop clinging - give them a wash in soapy water and rinse thoroughly, just let them dry naturally and they will cling once more.

    There seems to be a large variety and can give a stamper a start without too much investment.

    Again the nice thing about using clear stamps, you can see right through the stamp and block, and see where you are stamping. You can also cut up phrases to make them go onto two lines etc.

    Here are a couple of solid stamps

    You can see the stamp here - I often use chalk inks pads

    Style of stamps
    I feel there are two basic styles of design - detailed outline and block. 

    The detailed outline type can be coloured to suit your card in a variety of ways, such as watercolours, felt pens, paints, pencils etc etc, and you may wish to experiment on the card/paper that you stamp onto depending how you fisnish your stamp.  They do not have to be coloured and you can leave them a simple black and white image, or you can use coloured inks for different results.

    The block type offer a different finish and you can do simple stamping with a coloured stamp pad, or you can use different colours direct to the stamp, either by paints, felt pens or ink pads. Remember to 'hurrr' on it before stamping onto your card to wake up any bits that have started to dry.  Or try spritzing with water.

    click here for more advice on ink pads

    Cleaning your stamps
    With the exception of Stazon ink, you can clean your stamps with any of the following....non alcoholic baby wipes; special cleaners; soft brush and water (just be careful with not to saturate the wooden block as the stamp may become unstuck).

    I tend to use baby wipes on a day to day basis, and give them a good clean from time to time with a soft toothbrush and soap and water.  Clear stamps can be cleaned with soap and water all over, and this will make them clingy again.  Do not dry them with a fluffy cloth though.   I do find that the clear stamps will stain more easily.

    Stazon is a permanent ink and will only come really clean with a proper cleaning solution. Stamping with versamark first may protect your stamp from staining. It is only a stain on the stamp and will not effect its stamping quality.

    Quick stamping tips
    This is a subject on its own and I have added a page for the meantime if you want to give it a go here are a few pointers to get you started.

    It is sometimes easier to lay your stamp face up on a desk and tap an ink pad onto it, particularly if the stamp is large.

    Lots of light tapping, often twisting the stamp pad first followed by tapping will give it a good coverage of ink.  Check that you have covered your stamp all over.

    Do not rock the stamp.

    Experiment on scrap paper.

    If you manage to get excess ink on the edges of the stamp try and wipe this off, if you use your fingers like I do - don't put them on your clean card!

    A bad image might mean - you have not inked it enough, your stamp needs cleaning, you didn't put even (or enough) pressure onto the stamp, try different card or paper.

    My very well used acrylic blocks

      Carolyn Woodruff February 2009