Rubber stamping is a craft kids of any age can do successfully. You can start without spending a lot of money. Various stamping techniques allow you to continue improving your skills and expanding your knowledge. Specific techniques will be explored in additional badge programs.
Your number one concern when crafting is your tools. We’ll focus on stamps, supplies and beginning stamping.
1. Examine rubber stamp materials.
Rubber stampers joke that they will stamp anything that doesn’t move. This isn’t far from the truth. Rubber stamping allows you to personalize clothing, cards and more. Look through this list and see what you might want to embellish with stamps.
- Business cards
- Clay pots
- Tablecloth / napkins
- Wrapping paper
- And much more!
2. Rubber stamps.
All “rubber” stamps are not made of rubber. In addition, some may be attached to a base while others need to be temporarily attached for stamping. Investigate different types of stamps. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
- Mounted, flat
- Mounted, roller
3. Anatomy of a rubber stamp.
When you purchase mounted stamps, there is a mount (usually wood or acrylic block), foam and the rubber. Depending on what you plan to stamp on, you’ll need each of these in varying degrees.
The mount itself is the flat part of the stamp, giving your stamp stability. Your foam gives your rubber the flexibility to make sure the entire rubber surface comes in contact with your stamping surface evenly.
Purchasing unmounted stamps will save you a lot of money, but you need to find a mounting system that works for you. Polymer stamps which attach directly to a solid surface may need a sheet of foam under your stamping surface to work the same as a traditionally mounted stamp.
Examine the types of stamps in Step 2 and see how these three items interact with many stamp materials. Which do you need to eliminate to stamp on non-flat surfaces, if any?
4. Rubber stamp characteristics.
Rubber stamps are not created equal. Some work better for certain applications. Different characteristics of stamps and their limitations are listed below. Look at images of rubber stamps to find examples of these characteristics and explore any additional you find.
- Fine detail — These stamps have fine lines that do not show well on items like fabric.
- Shadow — Large, usually simple shaped stamps that are solid or have gradients – can be used for layering.
- Deep etched — Raised surface of the stamping area is vastly higher than the base. The deeper the etch, the better the impression. You need deep etch for stamping into clay.
- Bold designs — Large solid areas of rubber without a lot of detail, good for using with any material.
5. Rubber stamp designs.
Rubber stamp designs are incredibly varied. You will notice there are “trends” that hit the stamping world. A certain theme will become very popular such as “Asian” or “fairies.” Choose your favorite search engine, visit Flickr, or find another image site and look at rubber stamps. List designs you find that speak to you. How can you use these images in your own creations?
6. Rubber stamp storage.
Before purchasing stamps, you need to seriously think about storage. Wood mounted stamps take up a lot of room. Polymer stamps can be damaged easily if not stored properly. If you use unmounted stamps, how will you quickly find what you are looking for? Look at stamp storage systems and decide what will work for you.
Think about indexing your rubber stamps as well to eliminate duplicate purchases. Indexing also makes information available for card swaps, magazine submissions, etc.
7. Rubber stamp maintenance.
Taking care of your rubber stamps will extend their lifecycle. This will also contribute to your storage decision in Step 6. Avoiding sunlight is incredibly important. I always use modge podge (or equivalent) on the wood surrounding my foam / rubber to reduce ink stains and make cleaning easier. Research ways to clean and extend the lifecycle of your stamps.
8. Rubber stamp purchases.
What do you need to look for in a quality rubber stamp?
- Deep etching
- Lack of defect
- Quality of foam
- Size (Smaller stamps are easier to use.)
Where can you get rubber stamps? Look at your local craft stores, discount stores and online. Compare rubber stamp characteristics, materials and design.
Moving beyond rubber
9. Rubber stamp supplies.
These are only the most basic supplies. As you move away from being a beginner, your stamping supplies will grow. Before you purchase any supplies, check your home. Use what you already have to determine what you like before spending a lot of money.
Materials to stamp on include paper, fabric and clay. Paper is the best to start with as it is inexpensive and readily available. Often, making cards is a great way to start as a final card can be a first success within minutes of starting a project.
“Inks” may be anything from inkpads to bottled acrylic paint. These are applied to the rubber to make your impressions. Inkpads come in dye (fast drying) and pigment (slow drying) varieties. Also, you’ll see some inks, such as “Staz-On”, are specially designed and may need a specific material to clean the ink from your stamp. Make sure you read your directions before applying “inks” to your rubber.
Coloring materials may include markers, colored pencils, watercolors, chalks or anything else you can use to color in the details after making your impressions.
10. Rubber stamp accessories.
Again, most of these items you will already own. Collect them in a box or basket. Try them out before purchasing any more accessories.
- Craft knife
- Self-healing mat
- Bone folder
Let’s get to it!
11. Getting a good impression.
Here are a few suggestions for getting good impressions. What other ways might you get a good impression?
- Stamp on a stable, flat surface
- Place a few sheets of paper, foam placemat, etc. under your stamping material in case the ink goes through.
- Ink your stamp by patting the inkpad to the stamp or vice versa. Make sure it’s completely covered.
- Stamp on a scrap piece of paper first if you’re using specialty paper
- Apply firm, even pressure – DO NOT ROCK
- Large stamps need more pressure, smaller stamps need less
- Lift the stamp up straight from the paper
12. Back to kindergarten.
Remember when life was about staying in the lines? Once you have your stamped impression, you need to color it. This is the step where your creativity shows. One rule for this — have fun!
13. A few impressions more.
Once you have stamping down, you may find that stamping a few extra images is a good thing. You can color them as you’re watching television and keep them in a box for those “I need a card now” moments. You can also use them for collage, scrapbooking and a slew of other paper crafts.
14. Selling your stamped items.
As you get better, you may find you want to sell items you stamp. In Step 6, we mentioned indexing your stamps. Each stamp company has their own policy for how you can use their images. When you purchase a stamp, you’re agreeing to use it for your personal use. “Angel companies” allow you to sell items with their images on them. Most do not allow digitizing their images. Read the usage policies for a few companies and compare them.
15. Learning more.
In addition to the links following the badge steps, there are many printed items for you to explore. There are stamping magazines you can peruse to learn more about stamping. These include:
- Stamper’s Sampler
- Card Maker Magazine
- Scrap and Stamp
You can also visit your library for a variety of books on the subject of rubber stamping.
16. What happened to digital?
Digital stamps (digi stamps) are black and white computer images that print out looking like a traditional stamped image. The draw is the lack of physical storage needed and the ability to manipulate an image by resizing, flipping and more. They are limited to printing materials that go through your printer and must be cut out. Depending on the material, you may be able to transfer the image to a non-flat material. Look at a few digital stamp companies. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of digital stamping. Is it for you?
Sites to Explore