Saturday 3 May 2014

Start Stamping Today!

Are you new to stamping? Do you want to take up this wonderful hobby but don’t know where to start? Read on for our expert guide!
By Craft Stamper Editor, Katy Leitch

I don’t mind admitting that I’m completely addicted to stamping; for me it’s one of the most creative and rewarding papercrafting disciplines, one in which there’s always something new to learn. I love this hobby and want you to love it too! So I’m going to start by telling you that stamping is really easy to do! Honestly! A lot of people tell me they think stamping is difficult and technical – and I’m here to tell you that it can be, but it doesn't have to be. Like anything creative, there’s a learning curve and practice makes perfect, but getting started couldn't be simpler.

So, how do you get started?
As an absolute minimum, you will need a black inkpad, an acrylic mounting block (for clear or unmounted stamps), some baby wipes for cleaning, and something to stamp onto (i.e. card or paper). From there it all depends where your creativity takes you!

The easiest way to make your first stamped piece is to find an image you like in a magazine (I recommend Craft Stamper, of course!) or online and copy it or use it as inspiration. This might not feel very creative, but it is a good way to try your hand at something when making a first attempt. Before you spend a fortune on supplies, it’s also a good idea to get an idea of what your style might be. Of course this will evolve as you learn, but initially I’d recommend you find stampers whose work inspires you and emulate their style in the stamps you select. It may take a little time to find your comfort zone, so don’t buy loads of stamps until you’ve had a chance to play and find your niche.

Stamping an image – step-by-step

Select a stamp and inkpad to use. I have chosen a Tim Holtz stamp and Archival Jet Black ink. If you are using an unmounted stamp like I am, apply it to an acrylic block first. Select a block which is just bigger than your stamp – this avoids the stamp ‘rocking’ when you press on it.

1 Lay your stamp face up on the table. Take your ink to your stamp (rather than pressing the stamp to the pad) and apply the ink all over using a light patting motion.

2 I like to turn the stamp around on the table as I ink to get an even coverage.

3 If you tilt the stamp towards a window or lamp you should be able to see if you have good coverage as the wet ink catches the light.

4 Press the inked stamp onto smooth card or paper. With a wood stamp, you have to apply a reasonable amount of pressure and with an unmounted or clear stamp you need less pressure. Use one hand to keep the stamp steady and use the other to gently press down all over the block (note photo only shows one hand because I didn't have a helper!!).

4 Lift the stamp away quickly in a vertical motion to prevent slippage and blurring. 

Make a good impression!

Finally, here are a few of my top tips for getting a really clear stamped image.

1 Matt is your friend
Start out on matt paper or card – glossy papers are much more slippery and can result in blurred images.

2 Test it out
When I get a new stamp I like to repeatedly stamp it onto scrap paper to get a ‘feel’ for it. Wood mounted stamps, unmounted stamps and clear stamps require different amounts of pressure to get a good, crisp image. For example, with a clear stamp, you need to apply much less pressure – it’s quite easy to stamp too hard and get 'ghosting' around the edge.

3 Invest in a good inkpad
A good black ink is essential. Which is the best? If you ask a different stamper, you’ll get a different answer! My favourite is Ranger Archival Jet Black which is a permanent, water-resistant ink. Other permanent inks include VersaFine and StazOn. If you want to colour with alcohol-based markers, you’ll need a dye based ink like Memento instead.

5 Stand to attention!
I personally find I get a better impression if I stamp standing up. This way I am vertically aligned over the top of the stamp and I can much more easily apply even pressure over the whole of the stamp surface.

I hope you've found this short guide useful. If you have any questions about how to get started, post them below and I will do my best to help.

You might also like to check out the FREE projects available on our website.

Happy stamping!

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