Rubber stamps can be an easy way to decorate any craft project, mark class/office materials, add branding to packaging, or speed up tedious tasks like signing documents or addressing letters, but how do you make sure you're doing it right? Stamping with rubber stamps is as easy, but it can be tricky to get the hang of. In this blog, we will go over everything you need to know about our stamps, from a brief history to the difference between clear and rubber stamps, to different kinds of ink as well as a walkthrough of how to correctly use each stamp to get a perfect impression every time!
How to: Rubber Stamping for Beginners
What is a Rubber Stamp?
A rubber stamp is a hand-held device that uses a type of ink to leave behind an impression of a design or message on a surface. Rubber stamps get their name from the engraved rubber on the bottom of the stamp that reproduces your specific design or message. Today, rubber stamps come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used on many materials. Many people use them for a variety of purposes such as office administrative work, tools in the classroom, creative craft, and DIY projects as well as an affordable alternative for branding their small businesses.
A Short & Brief History of Stamping
People have been using a device to leave behind an impression of a design or message for thousands of years. A few early stamping techniques include:
While many of us have probably never used a wax seal, you might be familiar with the idea from various T.V shows and movies that date back to the middle ages. Wax seals were used to not only seal correspondences but were stamped with a unique design, which today we call a logo, to identify who sent the letter. You can still purchase traditional wax seals today.
The earliest form of woodblock printing was used in Asia. Woodblock printing is the process of carving out an impression into the wood and then using ink to impose the design onto the desired surface. Woodblock prints were used to print the depiction of stories through images and text. In Asia, they were commonly used to create books, scrolls, and art prints that were usually commissioned by someone of status.
The first use of metal stamping was to create coins. Metal stamps are engraved with an impression carved out of the metal itself. This creates are very hard surface to be able to leave an indented impression behind on hard surfaces such as metal. Additionally, many leatherworkers will use metal stamps to impose an impression on leather. Both rubber stamps and metal stamps can be used on leather. Rubber stamps require a permanent ink to leave behind an impression on leather, whereas metal stamps will impose an impression directly into the leather, however, specific tools are required to do this.
Rubber VS Clear Stamps
Clear and rubber stamps are used very similarly, with the main difference being the material they are made from. Rubber stamps are as the name describes, made out of a type of rubber or rubber-like material. Traditionally, the rubber stamp impression is usually adhered to a wooden block or handle, but in more recent years, is also be used on plastic mounts called self-inking or pre-inked stamps. Clear stamps are not made of rubber and typically are made from a photopolymer material. This material is transparent and slightly tacky, allowing the clear stamp to adhere to a clear acrylic block mount for easy stamping.
Besides the difference in material, the impression that each type of stamp produces can vary slightly. A traditional or engraved wooden rubber stamp impression will typically have a slightly distressed look, perfect for those who want a handmade look and feel as no two stamp impressions will look exactly the same. With clear stamps, the slightly tacky nature of the photopolymer material allows for ink to better adhere to this type of stamp and will provide a slightly more crisp, clear, and uniform impression.
A third difference is that rubber stamps are adhered onto the wooden black or handle, whereas clear stamps require the stamper to use a separate acrylic stamp block. The benefit to this is that clear stamps can be removed and replaced onto the acrylic stamp block over and over again, allowing you to swap out stamp designs as much as you would like.
Which Stamp is Right For Me?
Clear stamps are typically cheaper than wooden rubber stamps. Even with the initial extra cost of purchasing a few different sizes of clear stamp blocks, these are still more cost-effective upfront and for the future because of their interchangeable nature. If you are planning on collecting many stamp designs and will be frequently stamping, we recommend going with clear stamps.
Wood stamps, while slightly more expensive, are recommended for those who want the hand-made look and feel of their rubber stamp impression. If you're only looking to own only a few rubber stamps or are using them to brand your small business, wooden rubber stamps are the way to go. These stamps are built to last, easy to handle, and make small business branding feel more personalized.
Getting Started with Rubber Stamps
Types of Stamping Inks
There are many different types of stamping inks that are used for various purposes. If you're just starting, the most versatile and highest quality ink we recommend is a pigment ink pad. Pigment inks use rich pigment colors instead of water-based ink pads. This means that the vibrancy of ink color is much better. Pigment ink can also be used on pretty much any porous material.
Pro-tip: You can use pigment inks to stamp on fabric, but the impression must be heat set with a heat tool for permanency or otherwise may be washed off with soap and water. The only specialty ink we would recommend starting with is permanent ink if you plan to stamp on a nonporous material such as plastic, glass, metal, finished leather, glazed pottery, etc.
Rubber Stamp Care (cleaner + scrub pad photo)
Another important aspect of rubber stamping is knowing how to clean and care for your rubber or clear stamps. Mild soap and water (without submerging your stamps) will gently clean the ink off your stamps. However an easier, and more effective solution is to use a stamp cleaner and scrub pad to ensure your stamps last. Find more tips on rubber stamp care.
Rubber Stamping Doesn't Have to be Expensive
It may feel overwhelming with so many crafting options and tools, but just simply start with the basics. If you have a project in mind, only purchase the stamps you need for that project. You can creatively re-purpose your stamps by thinking of other ways you can use those same stamps for other projects. We recommend starting with clear stamps because they are more cost effective for crafting. Also, these mini Re:Marks ink pads will go a long way. These ink pads are only 2in x 2in, but because they have a raised ink pad, you can use these ink pads on ANY size stamps (see proper stamping and inking techniques below). Because these are so budget-friendly, you can get a variety of colors to start! You will also of course need paper. Find a nice color variety pack so you have many options to work with in the future. Keep your paper choices simple, card stock paper is perfect to start with! You may also want to get a media or craft cutting mat, and crafting scissors to get started.
Beginner tools and stamping supplies:
Uploading the Right Images and Graphics
If your looking to add a custom design or logo to a stamp, here is a tutorial on how to upload your graphic.
When you upload your design, remember that everything in black will be the areas of your design that leave behind an inked impression.
Stamping Tips & Tricks
Now that you have your rubber stamps, stamping ink, and supplies, you are ready to stamp! Here are some tips to help you get the best impression every time:
How to Properly Ink Your Stamp (gif)
Evenly and lightly coat your rubber stamp with ink. If you have added too much ink, your stamp impression may show edging as well as blotting. The ink should only remain on the raised surface areas of your rubber stamp, not on the edges or areas in-between.
How to Use a Rubber Stamp (Video)
When placing your stamp onto your desired surface, DON'T ROCK YOUR STAMP. Be sure to stamp with even pressure. Rocking your stamp or uneven pressure could result in ink smudging. To stamp, place stamp onto surface and keep even pressure on the four corners, then evenly lift stamp from surface for the best impression.
Pro Tip: Do a test stamp impression on scrap paper. This will allow you to practice your technique before stamping on your final project.
Adding Text and Messages With Stamps
If you want to stamp letters to create words, quotes, or sayings, you can easily customize your message with an alphabet stamp set. With the clear (cling) alphabet stamp set, you can easily arrange capital and lower case letters onto a clear acrylic block to add any custom message to your stamp design!
Beginner Rubber Stamp Projects
Rubber stamps are a tool with limitless creative possibilities and, it can seem a little daunting at first but, once you learn these tricks, stamping should be a breeze. Go ahead and grab your stamps, whether they're clear or traditional rubber, and give one of these beginner stamp projects a try! Don't be discouraged if you're first couple tries don't work out, it just takes a little practice, and soon you will be stamping like a pro!