Three steps to a perfect print

Stamping sounds so easy, doesn’t it? You buy a stamp, put some ink on it and hit it on the paper, right? Wrong!

You can find your images will be smudged, crooked, or look a bit bulky with this stamping method. That’s usually not what a stamper wants. Well, I’m going to tell you the little secrets to creating patterned images that you may not have seen before. But let’s start a couple of steps before we start stamping. Let’s see the quality of the stamp and the type of ink you are going to buy.

Before purchasing your stamp, it is important to examine the rubber or acrylic and decide if the image is carefully carved. A good stamp will be made from a firmer, high-quality rubber or acrylic, and the image will be cut fine and deep. If you buy a stamp that is softer and less defined, that’s the kind of image you’ll get from it, regardless of your technique.

Now consider the ink you want to use. There are actually five basic types of inks and each one gives you a different effect. There are dye-based, pigment-based, permanent, fabric, and stamping inks. Which will produce the result you want? Here are some ideas on how to choose between them:

dye-based inks They are water based, so they will react to water or paint or other moisture by staining. What they do is stain the paper, so if you want to color your stamped images in any way, don’t go for dye-based inks. If you want fast-drying ink or sharp images that you don’t want to color or alter in any way, choose dye-based inks. You’ll also get a softer color with dye-based inks. You can usually clean this type of ink from your stamps with water, but be careful not to saturate and thereby warp stamps mounted on wooden blocks.

Pigment inks are also water-based, but are made differently than dye-based inks. They contain small particles of color, so they are brighter than dye inks and less likely to bleed. They are best used on matte paper. When you use them on glossy cardstock, they will smudge if touched. They also take longer to dry, so you can put embossing powder on them and heat it up.

permanent ink it’s just that: a fast-setting, water-resistant ink. You can stamp on many surfaces with it: glossy cardstock, glass, acetate, even wood or paint. Once in place and dry, the image is there to stay. This type of ink will also stain your stamp unless you use the specially made permanent ink cleaning solution that can usually be found on the store shelf next to the permanent inks.

fabric ink it is made for printing onto fabric and you will probably need to ‘fix’ it by ironing it once you have printed your image. You can also use fabric ink on other surfaces (like chipboard). It’s a semi-permanent ink, so use a stamp cleaner to avoid staining your stamps.

relief inks they are stickier and take longer to dry, making them perfect for catching and holding on to embossing powders. Just be careful not to touch an embossed image until it has been heat set or it will stain. If you stamp on colored cardstock with clear embossing ink, your image will be two shades darker than the color of the cardstock. You will also need a stamp cleaner for this type of ink.

IT’S OKAY. Once you’ve chosen your ink, you’re ready to start stamping. The three secrets to getting sharp, clear images are:

  1. Place your stamp face down on your ink pad and tap it on the pad. Avoid pushing the stamp into the ink pad as you will end up with too much ink on the stamp and this in turn will make your images look blurry or imperfect. Now flip the stamp over and check if all areas of the image have been evenly inked. If not, turn the stamp upside down again and tap it on the ink pad until properly inked.
  2. Flip your stamp over again and hold it firmly with both hands by the edges. Lower it onto the paper as straight as you can. Press the stamp in the middle with a finger, then press around the edges of the image to make sure the entire image has been in contact with the paper. Be careful not to press so hard that you tilt or bend the seal.
  3. Next, carefully and gently lift the stamp from the paper, avoiding tilting or twisting it.

You must have a clean, sharp and complete image!

More stamping tips:

If you have a very large stamp, place it face up on your table. Gently tap the ink onto the stamp, checking that it is properly inked. You may get a better result if you place the paper over the stamp and carefully smooth it out with your hand before lifting the paper up and out of the stamp. This way you will avoid “missing” spots caused by imperfections in the surface of a large stamp.

Try to clean your stamps before the ink dries on them. Using a stamp cleaner will condition the rubber and maintain the quality of the images.

Now you know the three steps for a perfect print. Perfection can be achieved if you practice these steps. It might take some practice before you consistently get perfect results, but the time you can spend doing it is well worth it!

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