CB21-094 - how to use stamps for card making

How to use stamps for card making

Stamps are an easy way to improve the card-making process, and they can save users time while improving the quality of their work. There are many different types of stamps to consider, but each offers the same consistency and quality benefits.

When learning how to use stamps for card making, you need to understand the differences between the types of stamps and what they offer. Stamps can use different inks to achieve different results, but the general process for stamping remains the same. 

Keep reading to explore these variables and discover how to get the most out of your stamps.

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Types of Stamps for Card Making

While all stamps achieve the same primary function, you have a few types to choose from, including:

  • Wood-mount/wood-backed stamps
  • Acrylic clear-mount stamps
  • Photopolymer stamps
  • Multi-step stamps

Other types of stamps are available, but these are used most commonly for card making.

Wood-Mount or Wood-Backed Stamps

Red rubber stamps with wood mounts are traditional, but they are slowly losing popularity. While you may find some that let you mount them yourself to cut costs, these stamps tend to be more expensive.

They take up more space than other stamp types, but wood-mount stamps are sturdier and usually more durable than other stamp types. They work well for most stamping techniques and have a nice, crisp application, but it is more difficult to place them precisely than it is with clear-mount stamps.

Clear-Mount Stamps

Clear mount stamps are not always clear, and they can appear similar to wood-mount stamps without wooden blocks. These are designed to stick to clear-mount blocks, so you do not have a backing for each stamp.

These stamps are often cheaper and easier to store. They take up much less space and do not weigh as much, so you can tote them along easily if needed.

You do need to find a proper block to fit the stamp, and some stamps lose stickiness over time. You can purchase stickers to adhere to stamps that stick poorly, but cleaning the stamp is usually sufficient.

Photopolymer Stamps

Like clear-mount stamps, photopolymer stamps cling to a clear-mount block. These types of stamps have become one of the most popular types because they are cost-effective and easy to store.

Photopolymer stamps are usually more expensive than similar acrylic clear-mount stamps, but this indicates a higher quality product. You rarely run into issues with tackiness when using photopolymer stamps, and they often last longer.

Photopolymer stamps are likely to have a strong smell when you receive them. This is due to the photopolymer resin used in manufacturing, and it fades quickly.

Multi-Step Stamps

Some stamps will come in sets of two or more that you can use to create a full image with different layers. These are usually photopolymer or acrylic stamps so you can see what is going on underneath.

Layers often include:

  • An outline
  • Fill layers
  • Detailed work

Stamps with multiple steps save you the work of coloring stamps by hand, and they give you more control over the amount of detail you put on the page.

Popular Stamp Categories for Card Making

There are thousands of stamp designs that work well for card making, but the top options are:

  • Nature (fauna and flora)
  • Geometric shapes and patterns
  • Special Occasion
  • Sentiments
  • Niche

Nature-inspired stamps create beautiful and graceful images on your cards, while geometric shapes and designs take the opposite approach with greater linear structure.

Some of the best stamps to use when card making are occasion stamps, such as birthdays, weddings, and baby showers. These often come in sets with complementary designs, and you can adjust the layout of your card accordingly.

Sentiment stamps use words and phrases to lay out what you want to say neatly. They are great for filling in space, saving you countless writing time. Many sentiment stamps are clever and state your feelings perfectly.

You can look for niche stamps based on many other interests, including professions, hobbies, and fandoms. You can even have stamps designed and made to meet your card-making needs, although you should expect to spend more on them for unconventional ideas.

Types of Inks for Card Making

Stamps are lovely, but the ink is what matters when getting the design onto your cards. There are countless brands available in thousands of colors, but most inks you work with will be dye inks or pigment inks.

You can enhance an image by using specialized formulas (like chalk ink), but dye and pigment inks are the most cost-effective and versatile card-making options.

Dye Inks

Dye inks are the most popular choice for stamps and card making, and you are probably already familiar with them. They are less expensive, easier to use and come in some exciting subsets.

Distressed dye inks are water-based and take longer to dry, creating a unique, vintage effect.

Waterproof dye inks will not bleed if they contact water, so they are great to use in conjunction with painting and watercolor techniques. You can stamp the image, wait for it to dry, and paint on top without worrying about messing up the image.

Pigment Inks

Pigment inks are made using finely ground particles of color, and they are much more opaque than dye inks. These usually have a glycerin base, leading to a heavier application that sits on the paper’s surface instead of absorbing.

While pigment inks can dry out more quickly, they take longer to dry when applied, and you may need to use a heat gun to speed up the process.

Because they sit on top of the paper more than soaking in, pigment inks are great when working with light colors on a dark base.

Ink Pad Alternatives

While ink pads are the most obvious choice for stamps, you can use plenty of other materials to add color to your cards. 

Consider using other materials, such as markers, for a quick and cheap way to add variety. Remember that markers dry quickly, so you need to work faster when making your cards.

Alcohol and lacquer-based markers will dry too quickly for this method, but you still have plenty of options with water-based and embossing markers.

How to Ink a Stamp

Your initial urge may be to press the stamp down into the ink pad, but this often wastes ink, puts wear on the pad, and contributes to other stamping issues.

Instead, lay your stamp out with the image facing up. You can then take your ink pad and tap it gently onto the stamp, ensuring complete and even coverage.

This is useful with larger stamps because you can see which areas are already covered in ink and only apply it where it is needed.

When using markers to ink a stamp, color the marker along the lines of the image. Make sure you work quickly, so the ink does not dry before using it.

Using Craft Daubers with Stamps

Craft daubers are small sponge applicators designed to fit on the tip of your finger, and they prove a more precise application of color. This also prevents the oils from your finger from mixing with the stamp’s ink.

Instead of dirtying up your fingertips, you can use the dauber to add multiple colors to one stamp. You can even use the daubers on their own to stamp along the edges of a card, creating a unique texture for the background or coloring in another stamp’s outline.

How to Clean a Stamp

You can use baby wipes to clean your stamps between uses, but these can leave behind pesky fibers. If you are willing to spend more, specialized ink cleaning wipes can accomplish the same task with less mess.

If you notice your clear-mount and photopolymer stamps are having issues clinging, wipe down the back with alcohol to clear it of any fine particles that might be interfering.

Use a stamp cleaning liquid or warm water and liquid soap for deeper cleaning, and then let the stamps dry afterward. A stamp shammy can accomplish a similar level of cleaning with just water alone.

Rubber stamps cannot be submerged in water, so you need to use alcohol-free wipes or a specialized rubber stamp cleaner for effective cleaning, but the process remains the same.

Using a Stamping Press for Card Making

A stamping press is a popular tool for card making because it helps:

  • Keep images perfectly aligned
  • Facilitate consistency in designs for mass production
  • Reduce the time it takes to stamp on cards

Stamping presses are used with clear-mount stamps, photopolymer stamps, and some red rubber stamps. They have a platform you lay your card on and an acrylic lid that the stamps stick to. Most stamping press lids feature a grid to help you keep everything neat and even.

Once you have your card in place, you can lay your stamps on it to create your design. Once this is settled, close the lid and apply slight pressure. This helps the stamps stick to the lid.

Open the stamping press and ink up the stamp(s). When you close it, use gentle pressure and make sure you cover all the stamps you are using.

If part of your design comes out fuzzy or is missing, re-ink the stamp and repeat the process. Because the card and stamps are in the same place, this design will not have shifted, and you should not have any duplicate lines.

Stamping presses vary depending on the manufacturer, so make sure you read the specifications before settling on one.

Using a Stamping Block for Card Making

Stamping blocks are transparent plastic blocks that unmounted stamps cling to. They come in different sizes to fit other stamps, but they all work the same way.

Just peel the unbacked stamp from its plastic liner and lay it on the block. You may need to press down to get a more secure cling, but most stamps have no issue.

Once the stamp is set on the block, ink it up and press it onto your card.

Stamping blocks are great for more general applications, and they take up less space. They fit easily in your hand, and you can see exactly where you are stamping and adjusting with minimal effort.

When pressing it into your card, make sure you do not rock the stamp. This can cause the image to smear or print unevenly.

Common Stamp Issues when Card Making

Most issues you run into when using stamps for card making revolve around unclean stamps or application errors. Cleaning the stamp and taking your time using it is usually sufficient to solve a problem.

If the issue persists, you should take a closer look at your stamps. They can deteriorate over time, warping and cracking. You might want to look into restoring unique designs, and generic stamps are easily replaced.

Ink Beading on Stamp

The most common cause for ink beading on new stamps is a residue left over from the factory process. If you are working with older stamps, they might have dust or fibers stuck to the surface.

With new stamps, wipe them down and see if that fixes the problem. If not, you can use a very fine-grade piece of sandpaper to remove the leftover residue. Make sure you clean them afterward to remove any leftover sandpaper before using.

With older stamps, a simple wipe-down should suffice. If you are still having issues, try deeper cleaning. Any problems after this indicate wear on the stamp.

Lines Next to Stamped Image

If you end up with lines next to your stamped image, you will likely get ink on your stamping base and then press it into the paper.

Make sure you clean your stamps thoroughly between uses and lighten up when applying ink. If you are not already pressing the ink onto your stamp (instead of the stamp into the ink), switching to that method should help.

Check to make sure that you do not rock your stamp or ink pad at any time during this process. You should have a cleaner application in the future.

Summary: How to use stamps for card making

As you can see, there is a lot to know about using stamps for card making.

The most common types of stamps for card making include:

  • Wood-mount/wood-backed stamps
  • Acrylic clear-mount stamps
  • Photopolymer stamps
  • Multi-step stamps

Most crafters will use dye ink for card making. However, pigment ink is another option.

Avoid pressing your stamp into your ink pad. Instead, gently tap the pad and stamp together. You can also use Craft Daubers to help spread the ink onto the stamp.

Baby wipes are one of the best resources for cleaning stamps. Soap and warm water are also a good option for cleaning stamps. Other commercially available products are available online or at your craft store.

A stamping press is a popular tool for card making because it helps keep images perfectly aligned, facilitate consistency in designs for mass production, and reduce the time it takes to stamp on cards.

Stamping blocks are transparent plastic blocks that unmounted stamps cling to. They come in different sizes to fit other stamps, but they all work the same way.

The most common issues with stamping include ink beading and lines next to stamped images. Most of these issues can be avoided by cleaning your stamp or fixing the application process.