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.
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.
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 Acrylic Revolution
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.
Acrylic stamps are much cheaper to manufacture than rubber ones. Many paper crafting magazines began to offer sheets of acrylic stamps as “free” cover gifts.
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.
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 still 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.
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.
There are many stamps being created for specific crafting uses.
The current trend for journalling has led to many sets of stamps for use in journals and planners. Having a stamp with “Put bins out” on it is a lot quicker to use than writing it by hand every week! There are also stamps with frames and journalling boxes on which are very popular.
Mixed media artists are spoilt for choice with a vast array of stamps with interesting textures on them. These can be layered for even more variation.
There are also deeper etched stamps for use with polymer clay, resin and other media.
Tools for Easier Stamping
With the growing popularity of stamping there has also been a number of new products to work with them.
Of particular note are stamping platforms. These are flat bases with hinged lids on which you affix your stamps. The stamps can then be stamped repeatedly in exactly the same place on your paper or card. This is a massive boon for stamping larger designs as if part of the image does not print properly first time, it is easy to reink and restamp until you have a perfect result. Stamping platforms also make it easier to line up stamps for multiple designs.
Here is a review of the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform which is the one I own and use.
There are also stamping presses available to help with positioning stamps. These are a bit cheaper than stamping platforms, although they don’t have as many functions.
Basically a stamp press is a flat, clear piece of plastic with a “squishy” foot at each corner of the underside. The feet may be foam or encased springs. You affix your stamp to the underside of the press then line it up over your page. You can take your time getting it just where you want it. Then, when you are ready, you press down, compressing the feet and bringing the stamp down to the paper. Very handy for stamping on slippery surfaces or if you have shaky hands. I use a Friskars Stamp Press, but there are quite a few brands now available.
I am rather fond of my Inkadinkado gears. These are plastic frames and cogs. You stick a stamp on a paddle-type device, then you can clip it into the frame or cog so as to create beautiful repeating patterns. The stamps that have been produced for the system are some of my very favourites and are useful for lots more purposes than just with the cogs.
With more to come…
Stamping has been given a boost recently by the increased interest in colouring images with alcohol or water based markers, pencils and watercolour paints. Larger, outline-style stamps are particularly good for this use and so many new designs are coming on to the market every year.
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.
I very much enjoy using stamps and have built up quite a collection over the years.
And click here to read about using stamps to create a cool “no-lines” watercolour effect with your stamps.
And if you are wondering how I store my stamps… here is an article and video with details of the (very economical) stamp storage system I have been using for the past 5 years.
Links to Some Products Mentioned in this Article
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