Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rubber-Stamping Basics

By Christina VanGinkel

Stamping is a hobby that has been around for quite some time, and does not appear to be going anywhere. Even with all the new electronic forms of making images, such as computer printers, and even a new hand held runner style printer from Xyron, rubber stamps are still a very popular craft. They are simple to use, you can create many different projects with nothing more than a few stamps, an inkpad, and some paper, or you can incorporate their designs into other crafts such as scrapbooks and a variety of other ephemera based crafts including art prints and artist trading cards.

Rubber-stamping has made some major improvements in recent years in the way the stamps themselves are designed too. For the longest time, stamps were most likely mounted on a wood base, and even today, many new ones still are. Though the wood base holds up well, and most are easy to handle, seeing exactly where you are placing the stamped image can be a problem. If you were just using a single image, solo, this would not usually be a problem, but if you are trying to create a running border, say of a repeat image, or if you are trying to create a design that incorporates several different images, getting the stamped images to line up can definitely be a problem. To help alleviate the problems associated with these issues, some ingenious person came up with a solution for this and created a clear acrylic base for the rubber image. At about the same time, someone also thought up changing the way each image has its own base, and made the stamps interchangeable with just a couple different handles, depending on the size of the stamp itself. This way, you could now store the images flat in a file folder, and you only need to keep a few handles to go with the stamps. This makes the storage of your stamps very easy, and storage space is rarely an issue as it is with stamps on wood bases.

For this reason, if you were new to stamping, I would seriously recommend considering how the stamps are mounted before making a purchase. If you think that you will only buy a few, and storage will never be an issue, ask yourself how many crafts you do, crafts that you enjoy doing, where you are not prone to purchasing more of the related supplies. When you consider this, you may be more inclined to purchase those that will store easier and take up less space. Another advantage to having stamps that can be stored in binders is the ease with which you can take them with you if you attend crops or even move about the house with your crafts, and do not have a dedicated spot to work with them.

Besides the stamps, and something to stamp on, ink is your only other supply required. Ink comes in quite a large palette of colors and finishes, from pastels to metallic. StazOn ink is another choice to the many regular types of ink, and allows you to transfer your stamped images in a permanent nature to porous items, items made of glass, metal, shrink plastic, leather, acrylic, and more. This type of ink is a great way to expand the uses of your stamps! Resist ink is another choice, and works just as its name implies. It actually makes the area it is stamped onto resist any water-based products, in effect creating a watermark type design.

Some people do use their stamps to apply embossing ink also, which you then will need embossing powder and a heat gun to finish off the design. This technique itself is also quite simple and fun to do. You apply the embossing ink in the same way that you would apply any other ink, except you then sprinkle the design made with the color of embossing powder that you want to apply to the design. The powder adheres to the embossing ink, and you lightly shake off the excess powder. The powder on the design is then sealed by applying heat from a heat gun made specifically for this purpose.

If you are looking for a fun, easy to do craft, that will not take many supplies to get you started, at least until you have a feel for whether this is the craft for you or not, then I would recommend you give rubberstamping a try.

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