The Ultimate List of Stamping Tips

I’m coming up to my 8th year of stamp making, but i’ve probably been using stamps for many more than that. As a keen crafter, rubber stamps, polymer stamps and even those stamps cut out of foam we used to make in Primary school have always been in my crafting tool box.

Stamps are such a versatile tool that I could probably write a blog post ever day for a year with ideas and still have more suggestions but I’m going to go over a few basics of how to use my handmade stamps so that you have the most success. If you have any further questions then feel free to get in touch.

Polymer Stamps

The stamps I create are made from a type of flexible polymer. Once set it is clear (it may have a slight pink tint). This means that assuming you use it with a clear block you can see EXACTLY where you are putting it on the paper. All my stamps come permanently mounted onto a hard acrylic block as standard but if you prefer cling mount or unmounted then just ask. The benefit of pre-mounting is it is always ready to go and I’m all in favour of making life quick and simple.

How to Use Your Stamps

Surfaces

As I said before there are so many things you can create with stamps and this starts with the surfaces you can stamp onto. Generally speaking, as long as you use the correct ink (more on that later) then you can stamp onto most things.

  • Card and Paper (matt and glossy)
  • Fabric (natural and synthetic)
  • Wood
  • Even certain plastics or metals (specialist ink required)

For the best outcome, it is recommend to stamp onto a smooth, flat surface. For example trying to stamp onto a curved surface will be less than perfect if the ink doesn’t touch the surface evenly.

If you plan to stamp onto fabric then you need to decide if it needs to be washable because you can get certain inks that once ironed for 2 minutes it is washable at 30 degrees. You might also want to consider the complexity of the stamp design if using on fabric or wood as simpler designs are more effective.

Choosing Ink

There are hundreds of types and brands of ink. The quality and outcomes can also vary massively so it is best to check a few different ones to see what you like best. Here are a few of the most common options available.

  1. Dye Ink – Ranger Archival Ink is the brand I stock. It is a good ink for using with regular paper and card, it comes in a wide variety of colours but bear in mind that the colour of the surface with affect the final shade. It also often dries lighter. Archival ink pads are quite dry to touch so the method of stamping mentioned in the last section is the best way to use them. You shouldn’t have any issues with over inking but you might find dye ink will bleed on fabrics and wood. Memento is another good quality dye ink brand.
  2. Pigment Ink – Pigment inks sit on the surface rather than soaking in like dye ink so it is useful on a wider range of surfaces. However, it can take a while to dry so is prone to smudging and overinking. Due to the fact it sits on the surface you get a wider choice of colours such as chalky, pastels and metallics which you cannot achieve with dye ink. I recommend Verscolor or Versacraft as a pigment ink for using with multi surfaces.
  3. Solvent Ink – Solvent inks such as Stazon and the cleaners are not recommended for use with this kind of polymer stamp as they disintegrate very quickly.

Stamping Tips

When you are ready to stamp then lay out your tools and materials. Make sure you are protecting any surfaces incase you spill any ink. Have a piece of scrap paper to practise on and a damp cloth or baby wipes for cleaning up after.

The best method of transferring ink to a stamp is by laying the stamp face up on the table and tapping the ink pad into the stamp multiple times for even coverage. especially for larger stamps. You can then carefully pick it up and press smoothly onto the paper. You should not need to press too hard but make sure that the whole stamp gets contact otherwise you might find missing patches.

Gently lift it away from the paper, being careful not to smudge it, especially if using an ink that requires time to dry. Once you have finished stamping or wish to change to a different colour ink then make sure you clean off the remaining ink, this is when a damp cloth or baby wipe is useful. Depending on the ink, it might stain the clear stamp but if clean and dry, it shouldn’t affect further stamping projects.

Quick Video on How to Stamp

TROUBLESHOOTING: If you over ink your stamp, get it too wet, are too rough or forget to clean the polymer, it will shorten the life of your stamp. Occasionally a stamp might detach from the acrylic block especially with a lot of use but it is nothing to worry about. You can give it a good wash in warm soapy water, removing any residue of adhesive, dry it and reattach using a strong double sided tape. A well looked after stamp will last for many years with regular use.

Artwork Requirements

You need to decide what kind of stamp you want for your project or collection. As well as a range of pre-made designs for occasions, packaging and more I can also create custom stamps. Choose from having your own logo, drawing or artwork as a stamp or I can create a simple design from scratch or using one of my templates as a starter.

If you supply a design then you (or your designer) needs to make sure your artwork meets the following requirements:

  • It is easily translatable into black/white (no shadows/gradients/ colour blocks touching) You can supply it in colour though.
  • It is high quality (high resolution is 300dpi) and a reasonable size. We will do any scaling so please don’t worry if you don’t have the exact size file.
  • It is a PDF or a high quality PNG or JPG (both white or transparent backgrounds are fine)
  • Any text on the file is at least 10pt (12pt for fancy or script fonts) when scaled down. If you are unsure then you can ask before ordering and I will have an estimate but ultimately it is down to you to decide if it will be big enough/clear enough.

I hope this has been a useful post sharing just how great stamps are. Try using your stamps to make gorgeous gift wrap, gift tags, handmade cards, scrapbook pages and even stamping onto fabric tabs, ribbon, tote bags, clothing, wood plaques and more. Experiment with metallic or chalk inks for different effects and just have fun!

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DIY – Create Your Own Photo Boards

All views expressed here are my own personal recommendations and this post contains no affiliate links.

In late 2017 I was hit with the photography bug so I invested in a DSLR camera and took a few online photography courses. Up until that point I had been solely using my iPhone camera for my product photos which is Ok for quick snapshots but I realised my photos were just lacking spark and I couldn’t get the depth of field that I wanted. Anything business related is worth the investment of both time and money and this is one thing I can’t believe I didn’t do earlier!

Through taking the courses and researching other photographers I discovered how much I favour natural light photography over studio photography and have decided to use natural light exclusively. It does have its limitations especially in Winter or rainy days but knowing how to work the camera means I can easily make the most of the good light days.

My dining room is being used as my pop up photo studio as it is painted white and contains a large table. The large window (almost full length, I know I’m lucky!) is North facing which offers the most consistent light and early afternoon seems to be the ‘magic hour’ for photography. However, I still find that I can still get harsh shadows on the opposite side of the product I’m photographing so reflector boards are a must!

You can buy fancy reflector boards but all you need is something white and reflective so I purchased some large A1 Foamex boards from Hobbycraft (4 for £10!) and can prop these up around my shoot and even use them as a base.

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Whilst doing my research into product photography techniques I discovered PhotoBoards by Lindsey James. These are solid boards with high resolutions backgrounds printed directly onto them and they are so good for ensuring consistent product photos. I’ll admit I have invested in a few so far and I will be ordering a few more as I love them.

However, I think it is Ok to have a few DIY ones in my collection too as sometimes you want to test out a different colour or texture before committing or you might just need a one off design.

How I created my own photo boards.

Remember those white reflector boards I mentioned earlier? I found a way to make them multi-purpose. I paid a visit to a large DIY store and took some samples of wallpaper (I was shopping for other items too!). I carefully picked ones that were quite realistic looking and weren’t too contrasting in texture. You can pick up some amazing textured vinyl style papers including brick effect, tiles and slate etc.

After lots of umming and ahhing I settled on a rustic painted brick, a whitewashed wooden plank and a black stitched leather. Then I simply trimmed them to length using a craft knife and used permanent spray mount (also Hobbycraft) and stuck one onto each of A1 Foamex board.

TOP TIP: Make sure the two edges are lined it up so you can use it as a wall without a gap showing

It’s easy peasy to just switch the boards round when I need either white or background or use two together. The benefit is the boards are white on one side so they still function as reflector boards too when used that way.

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This is a really cost effective and quick DIY that means you can switch up your photography backgrounds very quickly. These DIY boards can get tatty quite quickly so if you are intending to do a lot of photo shoots then I would still recommend purchasing the official PhotoBoards as they are so sturdy and hardwearing, Lindsey James also runs PhotoCraft, a photography discussion and education group for creative business which is worth joining for amazing tips for helping you on your photography journey.

What do you think to this DIY? Do you have any ideas of your own for shooting with natural light? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email!