I am often asked how we make the sample cards that are on display in our retail shop. Many people assume they are printed because the images are so crisp. They are shocked and amazed when we tell them that they are all hand-stamped!
Are your stamped images as sharp as you'd like them to be? There are a few factors that will determine your stamped results:
- quality of the stamp
- type of ink
- type of paper
- amount of pressure applied to stamp
- steady hand
- amount of ink
As for quality, you should look for deeply-etched red rubber stamps. From my experience, these give the best stamped impression. However, you can achieve quality impressions from other materials as well... keep reading. :)
Type of ink
Every stamper should own at least ONE good black ink pad. It is fun to have colors too but a good black inkpad is essential. One of my personal favorites is VersaFine Onyx Black (pigment). This ink gives a crisp impression every time. I also like it because it is a workhorse! I have been using the same pad now for almost THREE years and it's still going strong!
Another ink that I really like is a new dye-based ink called Memento. The Tuxedo black is a sharp black and gives a nice crisp impression. If you are working with alcohol-based markers such as COPICs, you will LOVE this ink because it doesn't bleed.
Ink & Paper
Some inks will "feather" and make your stamped impression look like you've pressed too hard. This will also happen if your paper isn't super smooth. Try stamping on a paper grocery bag and you'll see what I mean. This can be a fun effect, however, if you are aiming for a crisp impression, the smoother the cardstock - the better!
Easy does it!
The amount of pressure you apply to the stamp will also affect your stamping results. I have found the every stamp requires a unique amount of pressure and you should always practice on a piece of scrap paper to determine the right amount of pressure you will need.
Hold it steady!
It goes without saying that you need to hold your hand steady when you are stamping. And, remember to go straight down and straight up! If you have ever stamped with children, you'll know exactly what I mean. My girls concentrate very hard to get a good stamp but they mess up when they lift the stamp off the paper. Straight down - straight up.
Are you still here? This is getting long, isn't it? While all of the above is important and you've likely figured out much of it on your own... this is the SECRET information you've been wanting to know about! It will improve your stamped results dramatically!
This is the anatomy of a rubber stamp:
This is a 'virgin' stamp - never been stamped before. If you look closely you will see some manufacturing residue on the stamp. The first thing you should do with a new stamp is to clean it - a quick wipe with a baby wipe will do. You can also just moisten your finger and wipe it over the stamp. You can feel the bits of residue and just wipe them away. I have read other blogs where people recommend that you "condition" your stamps with an eraser or worse sandpaper. Eeeeek! No, no, no!
When inking your stamp you should only ink the stamping surface. You do NOT want to get ink on the shoulder, the floor, the cushion (the grey foam stuff) or the wood - just the stamping surface. The best way to ink only the stamping surface, is to hold your ink pad in one hand and your stamp in the other hand. Lightly tap, tap, tap your stamp into the ink pad. Look at the stamp. Is the entire stamping surface covered? If not, tap the stamp lightly into the ink some more.
Here is what a properly inked stamp should look like:
And here's a close up. as you can see, there is no ink on the shoulder of the stamp.
If you are getting ink on the shoulder of your stamp and then you apply strong or uneven pressure, your stamped results will not be super crisp. And, If you get ink on the floor of the stamp and you have a large open area (think of an open circle) you will more than likely get a blush mark in the center of your stamped image. This happens because as you press down on the stamp, it creates a vaccuum and sucks the paper up and it touches the floor of your stamp to create a blush mark.Getting great impressions every time will take practice. However, I assure you if you follow the tips in this post and play around with your stamps, you can do it!
Here's a fun card that I made with the ink on this stamp. It's one of those cards that is *just for fun!*
So, let me know how your next stamping project goes!!