Have you ever had to scrap a card because you messed up your image during stamping?
There was a time, in my early card making days, that this happened to me a lot. And I used to get so frustrated at the waste. The waste of time, and the waste of supplies.
But that was before I learned the stamping tips that I am going to share with you in this post.
My Top 9 Tips for Perfectly Stamped Images
I know, I know. Nine tips? That sounds like a lot. But it doesn’t take much time (I promise), and the results will speak for themselves.
Tip 1: Work On A Firm, Flat, Even Surface
A perfectly stamped image starts with a firm, flat, even surface. There are no two ways about it. In order to get a crisp, clean stamped image, even pressure has to be applied to all areas of the stamp.
If the surface on which you are placing your cardstock is uneven or rough in some areas, your stamp will pick up on that and you’ll see it reflected in your final stamped image.
If your surface is too soft you won’t get a clean image either because your stamp will sink into the surface as you are applying pressure. A soft surface makes it hard to apply even pressure when stamping.
My favorite surface to work on is a self-healing cutting mat. It’s flat and firm but has just the tiniest amount of give. As a bonus, it also has a built-in ruler and gridlines which will help you make sure you keep things even.
Tip 2: Choose a Good Quality Paper for Stamping
If you read my post on choosing the best paper for card making, then you’ll already know that not all paper is created equal.
The quality of the paper you choose will affect the final quality of your stamped image. Poor quality paper can lead to feathering (where instead of crisp lines, the ink feathers outwards). You could also see bleeding (where the ink bleeds right through the paper). Or if the paper isn’t smooth enough, your image will stamp incompletely.
My favorite paper for stamping is Stampin’ Up!’s Whisper White cardstock (the regular, not the thick). It’s an ultrasmooth cardstock that gives you vibrant, crisply stamped images.
Although I personally don’t often stamp onto colored cardstock, I have also had good luck with stamping on Stampin’ Up!’s colored cardstock.
If you’re not sure about the paper you have, always test it before you commit to creating an entire card with it.
Tip 3: Choose The Right Size Acrylic Block
One of the things I recommend to new stampers and card makers is that you have an assortment of acrylic blocks in different sizes. That way you are guaranteed to have a block that is close in size to your stamp size.
This is key!
For a perfectly stamped image, you want to make sure that you choose an acrylic block size that is as close as possible to the size of your stamp.
If your block is too small, the parts of the stamp that overhang the edges of your acrylic block won’t stamp properly.
If your block is too big, you run the risk of the block accidentally tipping or tilting when you are trying to stamp your image.
In the picture above, the bottom stamp is an example of an acrylic block that is way too big for the size of the stamp.
Tip 4: Make Sure Your Stamp is Perfectly Clean
A perfectly stamped image starts with a clean stamp.
There are two main ways that stampers clean their stamps. The first way is with a stamp cleaning pad or cloth plus stamp cleaner. The second way is with baby wipes.
Now I have tried both, but my preference is to use baby wipes. Why? With a baby wipe, once your wipe gets too inky, simply throw it away and grab a new one.
With a stamp cleaning pad, if you don’t take the pads out regularly and wash them, then ink will build up on them. Once you get enough of an ink build-up, that build-up can actually transfer onto a clean stamp.
I’ll be honest with you. I prefer wipes because they are easier. I don’t want to have to worry about remembering to clean my stamp cleaning pad or cloth.
If you do choose baby wipes, make sure they are the unscented type.
Note that photopolymer stamps can stain when you use certain colors of ink on them (typically reds, pinks and black). To tell if a stained stamp is clean, simply stamp it onto scrap paper to test it out.
Now in addition to making sure there is no ink residue on your stamp, you also want to make sure that your stamp is dry before you apply ink to it. That’s why before I ink my stamp, I will stamp it a few times onto my grid paper. That way I can make sure it’s dry and that it doesn’t have any ink residue from the previous ink color I used with it.
Finally, before you ink your stamp make sure that there is no fluff or dust particles on it.
Tips 5: Make Sure Your Ink Pad Has Enough Ink
You’ve heard me talk about the fact that a perfectly stamped image is crisp and clear. For that to happen, there also needs to be enough ink on the stamp.
For the most part, when you buy a brand new ink pad there should be just the right amount of ink. However, over time and with use, the ink will be used up or may start to dry up (depending on the ink pad).
You’ll know right away when you ink your stamp. Or when you perform your test stamp.
If you’re having trouble getting enough ink, or an even coat of ink on your stamp (see tip 6) then it means that it’s time to re-ink your ink pad. This is something I’ll talk about more in a future post.
This tip relates to the two main reasons my ink pads of choice are Stampin’ Up!’s Classic ink pads. First off, the case has a really tight seal. I have had my ink pads sitting unused for years and they are just as moist as when they were new. I haven’t had as good luck with other brands.
The other thing I love about Stampin’ Up!’s ink, is that they sell ink refills for all their ink pad colors. Not all ink pad manufacturers do. So when buying ink pads, make sure you buy from a company that also sells the ink refills.
Tip 6: Apply Ink Evenly To Your Stamp & Avoid Getting Ink In Other Areas
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – there is a right way and a wrong way to apply ink to your stamp.
First off, take a look at the size of your stamp in relation to the size of your ink pad. If your stamp is smaller than your ink pad, then place your ink pad on your table and lightly tap your stamp onto your ink pad to ink it up.
If your stamp is larger than your ink pad, place your stamp onto your table, stamp side up, and then tap your ink pad all over your stamp using light pressure.
Why? It’s a lot easier to make sure that your stamp is well inked without being over or under inked.
When applying ink you always want to tap the stamp against the ink pad (or vice versa) using light pressure. Don’t squish down on the ink pad or ink will pool around the raised edges of the stamp. When that happens, you run the risk of inkblots and smears around your work.
You also don’t want to press and twist your ink pad against your stamp. Depending on the type of ink pad you are using, that could potentially damage your ink pad. It could also lead to the above problem of over-inking your stamp.
My final tip within this tip is to flip your stamp ink side up and take a close look at it before stamping. Double-check that your stamp is completely covered in ink and that no stray pieces of dust or fluff have stuck to the ink on your stamp.
Tip 7: Test Your Stamps Before Stamping
If you want perfectly stamped images every time, then it’s important that you get to know your stamps.
Although it sounds kinda funny to say so, your stamps have personalities. One stamp may require a little more pressure to make sure all the fine lines come through. Another stamp may require a really light touch.
The only way you’ll know, is by testing your stamps before stamping.
To test your stamps, all you have to do is to ink your stamp and then stamp it onto scrap paper. Which is one of the things I use my grid paper for.
I always test my stamps the first time I use them, and if it’s been a while since I’ve stamped with them.
Tip 8: Stamp Straight Up and Down, With Even Pressure
Okay…so now let’s talk about the actual stamping technique.
First things first. It’s important to get into the habit of always stamping straight down, applying light, even pressure, and then lifting your stamp straight up.
Up and down.
No side to side.
No wiggling your stamp back and forth.
Straight down. Even pressure. Straight up.
If your stamp is small, then it’s fine to hold the acrylic block onto which it is mounted with one hand when you are stamping.
However, if your stamp and acrylic block are on the larger side, then you’ll get a much better impression if you hold the acrylic block with both hands. Using two hands will give you more stability when you are stamping. And it will be easier to apply even pressure to your stamp.
Tips 9: Use a Stamp Positioning Tool
One of the best investments you can make as a stamper and card maker is a stamp positioning tool. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced stamper, you’ll find that a stamp positioning tool will make your stamping life so much easier.
The purpose of a stamp positioning tool is exactly as it sounds. It takes any and all guesswork out of stamping. It will help you position your stamped image exactly where you want it to be.
Not only that, but it’s also a real lifesaver if you accidentally get an imperfectly stamped image. Why? Because it allows you to stamp your image a second time, in the exact same spot. Something that is virtually impossible to do when you are freehand stamping.
I actually use two different stamp positioning tools. The first is called a stamp-a-ma-jig. I use it when I am working with my wood mount and cling mount rubber stamps. I originally bought mine through Stampin’ Up! Unfortunately, they are no longer available through Stampin’ Up! However, you can purchase them on Amazon. Check out this video tutorial on how to use the stamp-a-ma-jig for perfectly placed stamped images.
For my photopolymer stamps, I always use my Stamparatus. It’s actually my favorite of the two tools. But, it’s more challenging with rubber stamps. A Stamparatus relies on you being able to see through your stamp. With the cling mount rubber stamps, you can’t see through your stamp. So you can’t see exactly where the lines of your image will stamp. You can get it close…but close isn’t always good enough. Especially when it comes to stamping your greetings.
I’ll have a separate post with a video tutorial that will demonstrate how to use both types of stamp positioning tools.
There you have it friends! My top 9 tips for perfectly stamped images. I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions, as always, be sure to leave me a comment and I’ll answer you in the comments section. And if you have any additional tips, I’d love you to share them with my readers.