I thought it would be fun (and helpful!) to write a post sharing my rubber stamp tips & tricks. I get a decent amount of questions about stamps & ink, and while I am far from an expert, I have some thoughts to share.
First, stamping is a craft category entirely on it's own, complete with websites and message boards. People make amazing things with stamps, ink, embossing powder, chalk, pens, glitter, the works. But for me, stamps are just something that I use to quickly enhance paper projects and cards I mail to friends. My tools and techniques are pretty simple.
I basically use two types of ink.
VersaMark & Jet Black StazOn. There are hundreds of other brands in thousands of other colors, but at the end of the day, my desert island craft box (what, you don't have one packed and ready to go?!?) would include just those two. They are versatile & simple to use.
I use black StazOn on my personal projects all the time - like 97% of the time. Why? It's super quick drying and sticks to glossy photos. I use a date stamp on almost every Project Life photo and black StazOn gives me a dark & clear impression and doesn't take an hour (or more!) to dry. I can slide it right into my album after a few seconds. I also like pens that will write well and dry quickly on a glossy surface and often use an American Crafts slickwriter or a Zig Millennium pen.
Two things to note about StazOn: First, it STAYS ON your rubber stamps. This is what my stamps look like on the backside. Stained black. I know this has got to drive some folks crazy, but for me, it isn't a big deal, because like I said, 97% off the time I am using black. If I need to change colors, I clean the stamp (not after I use black but before I need to use a new color.)
There is a special cleaner for StazOn that will remove the ink. You rub it on the rubber, let it sit a bit and then wipe it clean with a cloth. The photos above show this in action. I removed black (which had probably sat on that stamp for at least two years) and then stamped it in orange. Unfortunately you can't really tell in the above photo, but after using the cleaner, I got a pretty great orange with ColorBox chalk, the other brand I sometimes use because it's quick drying too.
The second thing is that StazOn, like many other ink brands, is super "juicy" when you first get it. This matters because if you are not expecting it, you may "over ink" your stamp by pushing it too hard into the pad. I always recommend taking a few practice stamps on scratch paper before diving into an important project to get a feel for a new inkpad (especially with stamps like date stamps that have small details).
Paper Source hearts pattern stamp
And VersaMark! I love VersaMark for two reasons. One, it makes a beautiful water mark impression. So if I want something subtle on cardstock, VersaMark is great. Second, it's sticky so works really well with embossing powder.
Embossing powder is a very fine powder that collects where the surface is sticky (in this case the stamp impression). Once the excess powder is poured off, you heat the impression with a heat gun and the powder melts to reveal a raised and glossy look.
Embossing powder comes in hundreds of colors, but I most frequently use clear, white and metallic. (Embossing powder is how I get the cover art to appear white on the kraft covers for my minibooks.)
No secret here, but I love super simple stamps. Shapes and frames are great. Simple words and phrases that I don't get tired of are great. Stamps are like clothing in that the cost per wear goes down each time you use them. If you can only think of one time you'll wear it (or use it) it's probably not an item you should buy (unless we're talking wedding dress or a stamp you'll use on your invites).
As for techniques, I do the same things two over and over in my projects.
stamps shown above : Paper Source, my own (returning to the shop soon) & a SMASH date stamp.
First, I repeat the same stamp and fill the space completely (usually taking care to go off the edge of the paper). The right stamp can easily turn into a background pattern that's unique and graphic.
my own frame design for minibooks & Paper Source bracket stamp. blue ink is StazOn in teal. red is ColorBox Chalk.
Second, I stamp frames off the edge of the paper or card. It's just a personal preference, but like wrapped labels, I think a stamped frame looks better with one edge cut off. Stamps (especially frames) make killer journaling spots.
Hope that helps a bit - please let me know if you have more questions! It has been so fun to get back into stamping a little bit this summer after the launch of my first set of stamps. My goal, of course, is to create stamps that you (and I!) am excited to work with and are super versatile. I am so looking forward to the next launch.
ps : I have so many Paper Source rubber stamps because I worked there for 2.5 years. This is NOT a sponsored post, but many links used throughout are affiliate links. That cute "hubbie" stamp in the top photo is c/o Amanda Rose's Stamp Shop. My wooden stamp display in the top photo is from Pottery Barn.