Rubber stamping seems like a simple enough hobby, but there is a technique involved in getting the very best image out of stamp and ink that you can. By paying just a little bit of attention to the finer points you can have rubber stamping craft projects that are the envy of all your friends.
Perhaps the most important selection you can make when starting a stamping project is the kind of ink you want to use. There are all sorts of inking pads on the market, the most popular being the dye-based and pigment ink pads.
- Dye-based pads tend to give richer, more saturated color. These inks dry quickly and are great for use on glossy or matte paper.
- Pigment inks are lighter and thicker. Pigment ink dries slower than dye-based ink, so it is the ink of choice if you're going to be embossing. If you use pigment ink on glossy paper, it will have to be embossed. Otherwise it will not dry.
Both types of ink typically come in a felt pad with a lid. Proper inking technique is the first step to stamping success. Create an even layer of ink all over the image so that the image will appear evenly on the paper and one part won't be inked more or less than another. Get even ink by tapping the stamp against the pad. Resist the urge to press very firmly or grind the stamp into the ink. This will cause excess ink to end up in places you don't want it. Always use pads with adequate ink on them. If parts of the pad has dried out, the stamp won't be able to take up any ink and you'll end up with uneven color.
Testing and Marking
Testing the stamp on an unimportant piece of paper or cardboard before you stamp your project can ensure that you have the technique down. Always keep some scrap paper on hand with your supplies for just this purpose. After the test, you will want to reink your stamp. Sometimes you can get a decent second impression from one round of inking, but if you really want the image to be crisp and dark, you should reink. This is the process for stamping an image:
- Decide where you want the stamp to go on your project, and carefully set the stamp down, ink to the paper.
- Don't try to readjust the stamp if you don't like the placement. You'll end up with a smudgy image.
- Place one hand on top of the stamp, palm down, and the other hand on top of the first.
- Press down firmly and evenly.
- Don't rock the stamp.
- Lift the stamp straight up from the paper to prevent smudging and allow to try before coloring or applying another stamp nearby.
Masking is a technique that gives your stamping a more sophisticated look and allows you to stack images on top of one another. Here's how you do it:
- Stamp the first image.
- Use a different piece of paper to trace the image.
- Cut the tracing out, trimming just inside the lines.
- Place this paper on top of the first stamp.
- Stamp your second stamp as you like on top of it.
This simple technique gives the illusion of depth and makes your stamping a lot more interesting. As you play with stamps and the masking technique, you will come up with all sorts of great ways to use your rubber stamps and make striking cards, scrapbook pages, and gifts.
Embossing is a crucial skill for rubber stamping. It gives a beautiful texture to your stamped image. To emboss you will need the following:
- Dry embossing powder
- A heat gun
- Scrap paper made into a funnel
The embossing process works as follows:
- Secure your embossing stencil with tape.
- Sprinkle your embossing powder over the stencil and stamp.
- Lightly knock off excess powder.
- Slowly melt the embossing powder over the image.
- Remove excess powder using a funnel made of scrap paper.
- Let the image cool.
- Wipe the image using an antistatic pad.
Practice Makes Perfect
The more time you spend working with rubber stamps and practicing the basic techniques of inking and stamping, the better your work will look and the easier it will become to make works of art from rubber stamps. No one is born knowing how to stamp. When you experiment with stamping, you will find that even the mistakes you make are instructive.