Today’s post is all about Rubber Stamping – specifically, how to create a “starter kit” if you’re new to stamping or if you’d like to share your love for stamping with someone else. I’ve also written a bit about stamping basics for newbies – stuff like which inks to use, how to care for your stamps, and some basic techniques.
Stamping is an amazing creative outlet. What I love most about stamping is that it still has that hand-crafted look, but I don’t actually have to draw anything! From Thank You Cards, to my planner, to To-Do Lists, to labels, you can use stamps on any paper (and even other materials too!).
If you’re new to stamping or would like to make a starter kit for someone you really like, here’s what I’d recommend…
- Stamps – The great thing about stamps is that you can find them at practically all price ranges, sizes, and varieties. The Target One Spot often has great stamp sets for $3 or individual stamps for $1, but go to your local craft store or online and you can find amazing sets from $5 to $20.
- Alphabet – #1 (Target One Spot, $3) & #3 (Lawn Fawn Alpha, $15)
- Decorative – #5 (Craft Warehouse, $7) & #10 (Target One Spot, $1)
- Icons – #8 (Studio Calico Bullet Stamps, $15)
- Roller – #9 (Heidi Swapp Date Stamp, $5)
- Block for Clear Stamps – #4 (sometimes you can find these in dollar sections at Craft Warehouse or other craft stores. You can also buy larger ones like this one for $5-$10)
- Black – #2 (Craft Warehouse, $2)
- Colors! Depending on how much you want to spend, colored inks can be really fun. But I’m also amazed at how much you can do with just a black ink pad! #7 (Studio Calico, $6) & #11 (Target One Spot, $3 for a set of 3)
- White Pen (check out why here) – #6 (can be found here, $8 for 3)
- Baby-wipes or a Washcloth, depending on who you’re gifting/getting this for. Baby wipes are quick, easy, and disposable, and keep kids from grabbing the nice kitchen clothes on accident. Washcloths are more environmentally friendly, but need to be washed.
- Note-pad/Sticky-Notes for practice, tests, and masking (explained later!)
If you already know how to stamp, the rest of this post might seem a little silly. If you’ve been stamping for practically your whole life (like I have), the process feels like second-nature. But there are a few key things you need to know when you start stamping that you might not figure out right away.
There are many different kinds of stamps out there, but I can think of four basic kinds that I have and use regularly.
- Wood-mount – these are your classic rubber stamps. The wood-mount makes these stamps easy to hold, but there’s a little guesswork involved when actually stamping.
- Clear-stamps – these stamps have become popular lately, and there are a few reasons why. First, they’re easier to store than Wood-mount stamps. Clear stamps come in a flat sheet, generally with multiple stamps on each sheet. Second, when mounted on a clear block (which you need to purchase if you’re going to use clear stamps) you can see exactly where you’re stamping. Third, they might seem a little pricey, but when you think about the number of stamps you get per sheet, it is much cheaper than buying them all mounted on wood.
- Roller Stamps – like a classic date-stamp, but available in all kinds of variations. I have some with phrases, one with a checklist that can be used vertically or horizontally, and a classic date stamp.
- Printing Alphabet – I’m not really sure what to call these, but they don’t really fit into any of the other categories. Basically, these are alphabet sets that come with multiple of each letter for printing out longer texts like addresses. The set I have is the Martha Stewart Set Your Own Stamp Case, and each individual letter snaps into a base. You can buy multiple fonts, bases, and decorations to go with the basic set. I love this set because the letters are small enough to use in a planner without taking up too much space, but I don’t have to stamp each letter individually.
Here’s how I use clear alphabet stamps with a clear mounting block, and how I use my Martha Stewart Printing Alphabet with a clear base:
Again, there are two basic kinds of ink.
- Dye – Dye inks will sink into paper, and generally dry faster than pigment inks. Dye ink is great for quick-stamping, like if you were grading papers, or stamping a date on multiple papers.
- Pigment – Pigment inks sit on top of paper, making them ideal for using on thinner paper (like in a planner). Although these take a minute to dry, you won’t get bleed-through like you would with dye inks. Pigments Inks are great for planners or other projects where you want to use both sides of the paper.
Although you can buy all kinds of fancy stamp-cleaners, I almost always use a damp rag or baby wipe. As long as you’re removing the leftover ink, you should be good. I also like to store my ink pads upside down so that all the ink doesn’t seep to the bottom.
Fourth: Basic Techniques
- Test out your stamps/ink on a scrap piece of paper before stamping on anything important. This is especially important for alphabet stamps or when using multiple stamps on a clear block. You want to make sure all stamps will hit the paper evenly for the best image.
- Masking – masking is a technique where you place a piece of scrap paper over an area you don’t want to stamp. For example, you can see below that my checkbox stamp was too large for the box. Instead of only inking part of the stamp (which is also an option, but can be difficult with more detailed stamps), I inked the whole stamp and simply masked the outside of where I wanted to stamp.
- Stamp once on a scrap piece of paper, and then stamp your paper without re-inking. This will make your ink lighter and less intense. For example, I do this a lot in my planner when I want something to be grey instead of black.
- You can also use washable markers if you don’t want to invest in multiple ink pads. This also lets you get more detailed with different colors on one stamp. As long as the marker is washable (NOT Sharpie!), it should stay wet on the stamp long enough for you to stamp.
An example of masking:
Here’s what Technique #3 looks like, where you stamp once to remove the excess ink and are left with a lighter ink:
Whew! Who knew there was so much to say about stamps?! Whether you already stamp or not, I hope you learned something reading this post or saw something that inspires you to get out your stamps and create something.
If you decide to try out stamping or create a Rubber Stamp Starter Kit for someone you know, be sure to let me know on Twitter or Instagram @haleympettit !
For all the pro-stampers reading this: Share your favorite stamps, inks, tips, or techniques in the comments! I’d love to read them, and I’m sure others will too!