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How to get the best use from your Rubber Stamp

Rubber stamping, also called stamping, is a craft in which some type of ink made of dye or pigment is applied to an image or pattern that has been carved, molded, laser engraved or vulcanized, onto a sheet of rubber. The rubber is often mounted onto a more stable object such as a wood, brick or an acrylic block. Increasingly the vulcanized rubber image with an adhesive foam backing is attached to a cling vinyl sheet which allows it to be used with an acrylic handle for support. These cling rubber stamps can be stored in a smaller amount of space and typically cost less than the wood mounted versions. They can also be positioned with a greater amount of accuracy due to the stamper's ability to see through the handle being used. Temporary stamps with simple designs can be carved from a potato. The ink coated rubber stamp is pressed onto any type of medium such that the colored image is transferred to the medium. The medium is generally some type of fabric or paper. Other media used are wood, metal, glass, plastic, rock. High volume batik uses liquid wax instead of ink on a metal stamp.

Rubber stamping is great for beginners and seasoned crafters alike. It is easy to learn and easy to build up to more and more complicated techniques using just the basic materials. If you’ve never rubber stamped before, you will simply need an ink pad and a rubber stamp to get started. Rubber stamps can be used on a number of different surfaces. They are traditionally used on paper and card; however they can also be used on acetate (be sure to choose a waterproof, permanent ink to prevent smudging), shrink plastic, vellum and chipboard.

You will get better results if you take the ink to the stamp, rather than pressing the stamp into the ink pad. You have more control over how much ink you apply; too much may result in a smudged image and too little will produce a faint image. Take care to apply the ink just to the raised areas of the rubber stamp to give a clean, crisp image when you stamp. Once you have applied your ink, turn your stamp over and lay it flat onto the surface you wish to stamp onto. Apply a gentle, even pressure to the back of the stamp, taking care not to rock or move the stamp as you press down. Lift off the stamp to reveal your image.

If a large outline stamp has lots of open areas within the design, it is important not to get ink into the open areas which might result in spoiling the finished stamped image. It is possible to clean the ink from the open areas using a cotton bud or corner of a cloth. It is better, however, not to get ink into these areas to start. The best way to ink a large outline stamp is to take an ink pad and tap it around the lines of the stamp. Angling the ink pad slightly will help to direct the ink. Multi-color or rainbow ink pads can give beautiful stamped images, the different colors giving gentle colored stripes. Although this is fairly straightforward, and the same process as detailed above, it is important to carefully place the stamp. This will help to ensure that the inks in the ink pad do not run in to each other, which might result in spoiling the ink pad.

Colour can be added to your design in several ways. There are, of course, many different coloured ink pads available to use with your rubber stamps. Brush pens are fantastic for adding colour to specific areas of a stamp, but you will need to work fairly quickly so that the ink doesn’t dry; if you need to reactivate the ink before stamping simply ‘huff’ on it. The stamped image can be coloured in, once the ink is dry, using coloured pencils, brush pens, watercolours and craft chalks. Creative effects can also be achieved by colouring the background before you stamp, using paints, craft chalks or alcohol inks, and stamping with black ink.