Stamping Basics and Beyond

          Dear friends even though I have been crafting and blogging since 2010, I must confess I have never really got the hang of or understood the charm of stamping!
Stamping Tips
          My initial experiments with stamping were highly unsatisfactory—I got blurry  outlines, bleeding or smudged images and I even made a mess of simple sentiment stamps [see Chariot shaped card]! So I gave up and declared “I am not good at this!!” and didn’t bother to even try further!![Have you ever done that with a new craft or technique?]
           So you can imagine how I felt when Rashmi the owner of Itsy Bitsy suggested I try out newly launched Itsy Bitsy clear stamps. I envisioned all my crafty friends cringing and running away seeing my atrocious stamping!!
Heart shaped box 1
Heart Shaped Box Card
       After hours of worrying, researching, and filling up my dustbin with imperfect stamped images I managed to make a stamped swinging Heart shaped box-card.This “all stamped” project is a huge crafty step for me and this write up  on Stamping basics is to help other novice stampers!!!

Choosing what stamps to buy – Stamp Types

Rubber stamps

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    Rubber Stamps
  • They come as mounted [stuck to wooden blocks] and unmounted [easier to store if you have many but extra hassle of having to mount them!].
  • Fantastic for beginners as crisp images are easier to get
Clear StampsRubber Stamps
More pocket friendlyMore expensive
Easier to storeMore storage space
Easier to cleanMore difficult to clean
Use water to cleanCleaning- baby wipes,stamp cleaner
Transparent -so can see where you stamp!Opaque –so you have to guess where you stamp!
Have to mount on acrylic blocksWood mounted ones are ready to use!
Can stick several stamps on a block and stamp in one go!Have to stamp one after the other
Finesse needed to stamp perfectly !Fantastic for beginners!
Can deteriorate over timeCan literally last a lifetime

Clear stamps

Clear stamps are all the rage nowadays with a huge range of beautiful designs often packaged as sets.
clear stamp
Clear Stamp
I  chose this intricate beautiful lace design stamp from Itsy Bitsy to make a heart shaped interactive 3 D card [see earlier heart shaped box] which swings open sideways to reveal a fan fold tag holder

Heart shaped box 3
Heart Shaped Box Card
For an amateur stamper like me it was a huge challenge to stamp the continuous lace border on the heart box!
Heart shaped box 2
Heart Shaped Box Card
Since the design showcases the inside too, I used matching stamps on the base  and inner walls of the  heart shaped box-card.
Heart shaped box 4
Heart Shaped Box Card
The fan fold tag holder made with pattern paper has multiple pockets each holding a matching tag to write lovey dovey messages [maybe 20 reasons why I love you sort of thing!!]
Heart shaped box 5
Fan fold tags

How to use clear stamps

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Stamping Basics
Peel the stamp off the protective plastic
Mount it on an Acrylic blocks
That means just place the flat surface of the stamp on the block and it will stick to it!The acrylic block allows you to stamp with even pressure and allows you to see where exactly you are stamping
Choosing Stamping/Acrylic  blocks
  • Choose an acrylic block slightly larger than your stamp
  • Stamping tips 11
    Acrylic Blocks
  • If you find you enjoy stamping ,invest in a set of acrylic blocks as it will be cheaper than buying individual sizes. 
  • Some blocks have guide lines for placing your clear stamp
  • Some have rounded corners – I love this variety as they feel more comfortable to handle.
  • Recently saw a stamp holder set with handles  at Itsy Bitsy- they look quite tempting and must be even easier to stamp courtesy the handles but I have no experience with them [will let you know how they are if I give in to temptation and buy it!]
Frugal options- paper weight,flat bottom glass
When I started stamping I used a paper weight[see picture above] —You may get the same image quality as while using acrylic blocks but the big disadvantage is you cant see where you are stamping
Special –Fiskars Stamp press –It’s a large acrylic plate with guidelines. Might be useful if you want to mass produce stamped images using more than one stamp as you can position multiple stamps on it, ink and stamp.
Choosing Ink Pads
Stamping tips 1
Ink Pads
There is a HUGE variety of ink pads so it can get very confusing!!!
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Ink Pads
For starters the Indian crafter can use the easily available Faber Castel ink pads– they do give vibrant crisp images .The main limitations are there are only limited colors [red,green,black] and the ink pad surface is depressed unlike the raised surface in other inkpads so inking your stamps is not so easy.
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Ink Pads
You can read an exhaustive write up by Ellen on Ink pads. 
I made a table comparing some features of the main Ink pad types which are Dye Inks and Pigment Inks

Dye Inks Pigment Inks
Dries fast [ Dye Dries]Dries slower
except Versafine
Can stamp on glossy paperSince slow drying you need to heat set on glossy paper
Cannot be used for embossing
except- Distress Inks
Can be used for embossing
Some clear stamps dont work well with themWorks well with all clear stamps
Fades over time
except- Memento,Distress
Fade resistant
Cannot use watercolors to color with
except –Archival
Store upside down to keep ink pad surface juicyStore normally
Memento,Adirondack, Archival,Hero Arts,DistressItsyBitsy ,Damas,Versafine,Colorbox,Versacolor

Here is another table I compiled on the best inkpads for a particular purpose based on various online forum reviews.

For Embossing Versamark
For Copics coloringAdirondack,Memento.
Dont use Staz on
For Water coloringArchival,Versafine,Stazon
For fine detail stampingVersafine
For Fabric stampingVersacraft,Archival,Stazon,Versafine
For wood,plastic, metal,glass,ceramic, clay,leather and glossy paper Staz on

Lace stamp 1
Ink Comparison
           Its always best to experiment what suits your project, tastes and budget the most ! For example even though Versafine is popularly said to be the best ink pad for detail stamping-For the intricate lace design Itsy Bitsy stamp in this project I found I liked the more muted stamped image got with the Itsy Bitsy red pigment inkpad [first image] more than the sharp image I got with Versafine [2nd image in black]!
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3 D Heart Box card

Inking  the mounted stamp

  • Stamps that are larger than your ink pad can be inked by tapping the inkpad on top of the stamp, while stamps that are smaller than your ink pad can be inked by tapping  the mounted stamp on the ink pad itself.
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    Inking a stamp
  • Dont rub or press too much,just tap uniformly to cover the whole stamp.

    Choosing what to stamp on

  • Beginners should start with card stock
  • Avoid glossy paper,photo-paper,pearlescent paper, handmade paper, textured paper and vellum or acetate till you get the hang of stamping!


  • Place your paper on a firm surface not on the bed or a wobbly table!! [Believe me I have done it ,got awful images and declared I hated stamping!!]
  • Apply firm pressure on your acrylic block from above.Dont apply too much force  while stamping or you’ll squash the stamp and get blurred images

  • Stamping tip 1
    Stamping Errors
    • Dont rock your acrylic block or you’ll get smudged edges- this is the commonest mistake beginners make and you can mess up images stamped even with rubber stamps if you rock your stamps!!
    Stamping Problems

  • Some new clear stamps dont stamp well and need to be “conditioned” to accept ink. Just keep on inking and stamping on scraps of paper or gently rub an eraser /fine sandpaper/nail file over the stamping surface and your stamp will work wonderfully
  • Some clear stamps [cheaper varieties] are quite choosy about the type of inks they accept so experiment with different ink pads before your give up!
    Stamping tip 2
    Distress Ink stamping
  • You just got the Distress ink pads everyone is singing laurels about…your stamped images are so blurry and unattractive!Ha Ha happened to me too! Actually distress inks are not the best inks for crisp stamping as they are meant to get a fuzzy image,inking edges,shading ! I used distress ink to shade the lacy edges of my fan fold tags and swinging box
  • If you are not getting crisp images try placing your paper on a stamping pad/mouse pad or foam pad and then stamp over it…the cushioning effect helps to tremendously improve the quality of the stamped image!
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    Stamping Pad
  • If your image bleeds or is not crisp enough try changing the paper you are stamping on.
  • And yes clear stamp quality varies and some cheaper varieties just wont stamp as well !

    Stamp Care  and Maintenance

    • Avoid using strong detergents to clean your stamps
    • Avoid direct sunlight exposure
    • If you have washed with water let the stamps dry before storing away
    • Using inks like Stazon and the Staz on stamp cleaner can over time damage your clear stamp and many manufacturers caution against that
    • Clear stamps can lose stickiness over time- remedy- mild soap water wash
    All my crafty friends seems to be accomplished stampers and I was uncertain about the usefulness of this post but then I will always remember what my blogger friend Jaya told me on this Easy flower tutorial post – that everyday a new crafter is born and nothing is too simple to share!! Thank you so much Jaya!!
    Heart shaped box 6
    Heart Box Card
    I hope my stamper friends "okay" this stamping attempt and newbie crafters like the tips...please comment!![Big morale boost required !!]

  • Supplies: Ivory Card stock[ Pawan Bookstore RT nagar],Clear stamps,Distress Ink,Pigment Ink,eyelets,Heart shaped crystal beads,Spellbinder lacy hearts die,DCWV pattern paper,Big Shot-all Itsy Bitsy
    Linking to Kraftzone [3 D card in pink,red,white]
    Edited : this Heart Shaped Box card came top 3 at Kraftzone
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