Friday, February 23, 2007

Rubber Stamping 101

Now I have to admit, I do not make a lot of projects with stamps and inks. I use my small collection of rubber stamps and ink pads sporadically. More often than not, my most active stamping period is the run up to christmas when I start to frantically hunt for and wrap prezzies while simultaneously making gift tags.

I like buying tools that can be used over and over again and rubber stamps are one of them. Unfortunately, I have found that rubber stamps can also be quite costly especially alphabet stamp sets. In the past, stamps are mounted on wood but nowadays you can get stamps mounted on clear acrylic, which makes the placement of the stamps so much more easier, or foam stamps mounted on foam pieces. I personally like Hero Arts for wood mounted stamps, Autumn Leaves for clear stamps which have to be mounted on acrylic blocks and Making Memories for foam stamps. You can get Hero Arts stamps from Creative Hands in Takashimaya, Singapore and Paper Arts in Hong Kong. Autumn Leaves clear stamps can be obtained online from Pictures 2 Pages in Singapore.


There are a variety of ink pads that are available and each of them allows you to create different effects/looks with the just one rubber stamp.

Dye Inks

I have several of the kaleidacolor ink pads as seen above (by Tsukineko). Got them from Creative Hands in Singapore. Each pad has 5 different individual colour pads mounted on a slider. With a simple push of the slider, the individual pads join together to make one large multi-coloured pad. Because dye ink is pretty fluid, it bleeds easily and the ink pad must be stored with the individual pads separated to avoid a mixing of the colours. I use this pads for making invitation cards and gift tags.

Dye based ink pads dry quickly and is not suitable for embossing work. They should also be stored upside down to allow the ink to move to the face of the ink pad.

Pigment Inks

Pigment ink pads are slow drying and good for embossing. The above Color It ink pad by Ranger Industries was my first ink pad ever. I bought silver and black from Inksquisite, the sister shop of Stamp It in Perth, Australia. I was recommended this particular pad as I wanted to to embossing for my church wedding invites. The Hubby and I made our own invites and bought all our supplies from Inksquisite. As first time embossers, the shop lady advised us to get a coloured pad as opposed to a clear embossing ink pad so that it would be easier for us to see the design we were embossing.

Pigment inks are rather thick and viscous and therefore not suitable for use on glossy paper. I didn't even dare to use it on vellum paper. Tsukineko makes all sorts of pigment ink pads with different uses.

Above is the Versamark Watermark ink pad. It is clear and when you stamp your image on dark coloured cardstock, it creates a watermark effect. You can also use it to create a resist image on paper, then dye or ink the paper. The dye or ink won't be absorbed into your stamped image making it stand out.

Opalite is another pigment ink pad which gives off a reflective effect. I have one Opalite pad but have not used it yet. Hehe.

The one type of ink pad that I do use quite often are the Versacolor and Versamagic pads. The Versacolor pads are the Tsukineko equivalent of Ranger's Color It pads and they look great when used on any color cardstock. Versamagic pads are a chalk pigment ink and it creates a chalky look without any of the chalky residue. I find that these pads don't work too well on dark cardstock though.

Solvent Inks

Solvent inks are permanent ink pads that can be stamped on anything from glass, wood, metal and leather. Refer to previous post 'Like Father Like Son' for more on this.

Distress Inks

Ranger Industries produce a great brand of distressing inks by Tim Holtz. I love these ink pads as they are fabulous for inking the edges of your paper. I have about 10 of this range in different colours. Other brands like Making Memories also make distressing ink.


This is a fun way to play with stamping as it gives your stamped image a raised and embossed look. You need to use pigment inks to stamp your image or a clear embossing ink pad, then pour embossing powder (see below) over your stamped image and heat with a heat tool.

You can also get tinted Embossing ink pads so that it is easier for you to see your image when you pour the embossing powder.

If you don't own a heat tool, no worries. Heat your image over a toaster (the sort that pops up) or put it near an iron. The heat from the toaster and iron will melt the embossing powder and give you the embossed image. When the Hubby and I did our wedding invites, we used a toaster cos the heat tool was not within our budget at that time. :-) What you must NOT use is a hair dryer as it blows out a lot more air that is not hot enough to melt the powder. You're likely to blow away your embossing powder. Hee.

You can get embossing powder in all sorts of colours as well as clear ones. Usual embossing powder is made up of tiny grains that looks rather like fine salt. Then you get Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel ("UTEE") which is about the same thing except the grains look like rough salt. UTEE gives a thicker embossing effect and if you layer enough UTEE over an image, you can 'crack' the UTEE to give the image a crackle effect.

Cleaning your stamps

After using your rubber stamps, it is best to clean them to avoid a build up of ink. This is also to avoid a bleeding of colour when you use them on other ink pads. I use the Ranger Industries stamp cleaner (see below) bought in 2003 from Inksquisite. A bottle goes a long way unless you use your stamps all the time. I reckon my bottle is still about three quarters full.

My stamp cleaner has a sort of rough-ish pad on top. All you do is squeeze the bottle lightly while rubbing the rough pad over your stamp, then just dab your stamp clean with a paper towel or tissue. It is best to also rub the top of your cleaner with tissue to clean it as well.

Now you can get stamp cleaners in a spray bottle which you can just spray on your stamp. Or you can get the scrub-it pad below which goes with the spray cleaner which is scented. Nothing like Chanel No.5 though.

Clear stamps

The popular take on rubber stamping nowadays are unmounted clear acrylic rubber stamps. These are excellent as they are flat and hence easy to store (can use a file folder). And you can get mounting blocks with grid lines (Provo Craft) to help you place your stamps. Autumn Leaves do a great range of clear stamps.

And there it is...hopefully all you need to know to get you started on rubber stamping. Apologies if I have missed anything out and happy stamping!

Note: All photos were downloaded from the relevant websites (was too lazy to take photos of my supplies...much faster this way really and fun since I have been able to upload my photos onto blogger lately).


JazzScraps said...

Wow! This is real good info esp. for me cause I do wanna try embossing

Sleepless said...

Will look for the Emboss It pad in Spore (creative hands??) as I've been using the watermark for embossing all this while. Wanna get some UTEE too. And some acrylic stamps..and...and...hehehehe

Any tips for tough stains on rubber stamps??


Scrapper-holic said...

Jazz: Yeah I've been meaning to do a post on stamping cos i sometime find all the different ink pads available confusing. Glad you find it useful.

Sleepless: There is a dedicated stamping shop in Singapore called Presence in Coronation Plaza which is in Bukit Timah Road. I've heard that its wall to wall full of rubber stamps. Worth checking out if you have the time. I've never made it to that shop myself.

I've seen the clear embossing pad at Creative Hands but not sure about UTEE tho. I ordered mine from Stamp It.

Did you also know that you can get clear/tinted embossing pens? They look like the ZIG writers and have dual tips. Again, I got mine from Stamp It and have found it useful. Used it for the 'Preparing For Baby' LO Forgot to blog bout that.

Pandachu said...

Wow! All I wanted to know so i can stop bugging u for info now *grinz*

Scrapperholic - I think I saw some embossing pens at Shabby Chic last time but I didnt really take note as I hadnt (and still havent) started embossing yet. Also saw clear stamps at Laines when I went there earlier this month.

Sleepless said...

Thanks. Will definitely try to make it to Coronation Plaza on my next trip to Spore. Of course will be stopping by Creative Hands, Art Friends, Laines, Spotlight and MWL. Hehehehee...

Am also shopping for birthday party supplies. Apart from the party shop at The Concourse, would you happen to know where else I can get party supplies from?

Scrapper-holic said...

Sleepless: I'm so envious of your going to Singapore lah! Oh how i wish i were goin too. Hee.

I've seen a small party shop in Centrepoint. Its on the top floor near the elevators. Take the elevators up to the top and its the first shop on the right hand side. You can get some Mrs. Grossman stickers in there too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for posting the info. Its really useful. I have just started out cardmaking to accompany my handmade gifts to friends. Am looking for clear stamps. You mentioned that clear stamps is available in picture 2 pages in singapore but it pointed me to an aussie ebay webpage. Not sure if it's costly to get it from australia considering the freight charges. Intend to get some of the cute stamps (especially cupcakes). Would be grateful if you can help me out. Thankz. Wen

Scrapper-holic said...

Hi Wen

Thanks for dropping by. i dunno what happened to the picture 2 pages site. Seems like the site is no longer is use. My post is over a year old and i know that the P2P owner sold her business to someone else. maybe that someone has given up on the business.

Are you based in SIngapore? If you are do check out Laine's Papeterie at Wheelock Place 3rd floor. I know they have lots of rubber stamps there (both wood mounted and clear acrylic).

Good luck with the stamping and have fun!!

rubber stamp said...

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