Stamping is growing in popularity all the time.

What was once seen as a child’s toy has now evolved into a sophisticated art form with new products, techniques and styles continually refreshing and widening the appeal.

Easy to use for beginning crafters, yet offering endless variation and adaptation for the advanced artist, stamping has something to offer everyone.

Stamps in crafting

When I first started creating scrapbook pages, back in the very early 1990s, most of the stamps available were either very much aimed at children, or simple designs on large wooden blocks. The latter were expensive, bulky and quite limited in variety.

As scrapbooks, card making and other crafts began to become more popular, new stamp companies sprung up creating more sophisticated and versatile designs for the serious adult crafter.

By the mid 1990s there was a wealth of fantastic rubber stamps for the crafter to choose from.

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The beginning of the new millennium saw the rise in populartiy of unmounted rubber stamps. Instead of having to store the bulky wooden blocks on every stamp, now you bought uncut sheets of stamps and trimmed them yourself. When you wanted to stamp you fixed the rubber to an acrylic or wooden block then removed it again afterwards.

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Some stampers mounted their rubber stamps on foam core to make cheap, lightweight permanent mounts. Manufacturers also offered ready made foam-backed stamps, which were cheaper to produce and often of simple designs. These foam stamps were particularly popular for larger projects such as stamping on walls or furniture.

The introduction of clear acrylic stamps was a revolution in the crafting world. These stamps simply cling to an acrylic block for stamping, then peel off again afterwards. They require little space to store, are quick and convenient to use, and being clear means they are easier to place and line up when stamping too.

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Manufacturers continue to offer new and exciting ranges of stamps. As well as the traditional style images, one can now get stamps with texture effects and background patterns too.

Stamping today

Nowadays there are still a variety of stamps available. Some people swear by the traditional wooden mounted rubber stamps. The designs are often very deeply etched, making for a particularly sharp and detailed image. Unmounted rubber stamps are also available, along with various systems for affixing them temporarily to a stamping block.

Rubber stamps have made something of a comeback recently with many companies making high quality rubber stamps on clingy foam backgrounds. Able to temporarily stick on to acrylic blocks for printing, they are economical and easy to store. Although they lack the useful see-through qualities of clear acrylic stamps, they are able to be more deeply etched for more complex designs.

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Cheaper all-foam stamps can now be bought in many economical but high quality designs, and lend themselves well to large, bold images. Stamps for children are often produced in this format.

Clear acrylic stamps are something of the norm now and can be found covering every conceivable subject. Sold unmounted on clear plastic sheets, usually with an impression of the stamped result on it, they are very economical to make. Their lightness and cost-effectiveness also makes them popular choices for craft magazine cover-mounted gifts.

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With more to come…

Stamping has been given a boost recently by the increased interest in colouring images with alcohol or water based markers. Larger, outline-style stamps are particularly good for this use and so many new designs are coming on to the market.

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New ways to use stamps are continually being introduced. One very popular new idea is the Inkadinkado cogs and wheels system which allows crafters to create beautiful, symmetrical patterns with ease.

As well as the regularly use of stamps in paper crafts, they are also often used for creating relief images in polymer clay and similar substances. Stamping on surfaces like metal, plastic and wood has expanded their use into many different crafting genres.

The different types of stamps
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