Friday, August 26, 2011

How To: Acrylic Stamps (Clear Stamps)

Clear Stamps, Cling Mount Stamps, and Rubber/Wood Stamps
 Hello again! It's finally Friday! Wahoo!
Last weekend I had a blast teaching a Make 'n Take at the Scrappin Pad booth at the CK Convention in Tulsa! At the Make 'n Take we used both wood and acrylic stamps. I had many people stop by that had never stamped before or that had never used clear/acrylic stamps! That's why today I'm going to talk about acrylic stamps, how to use them, and how they are different from wood stamps!

I actually have a blog that is just stamping and mainly cardmaking. It is! On this blog I mainly share How To's and scrapbooking.

What is a clear/acrylic stamp?
A clear stamp is a stamp that is made of clear polymer. They cling onto a clear sheet and you simply pull it off and place it on a clear block to stamp. They are perfectly clear so you when you stamp you can see right through the stamp and the acrylic block.
They are perfect for lining up letters on a block to form words, building one complete stamp by adding different stamps onto the same block, and you can even curve words on the block! A quick tip for lining up stamps on a clear block is to put the block over a grid mat or glass mat with grid lines. There are also some clear blocks with lines already on them.
Clear/acrylic stamps are also less expensive than wood or cling mount stamps.
Stampin Scrub, Stampin Mist, Stazon Cleaner, and Towels
How do I clean my clear stamps?
Cleaning your clear stamps is very important. You must have the proper cleaning tools to keep your stamps in good shape.
I use the Stampin Mist cleaner and the Stampin Scrub by Stampin Up. They are my favorites. The SU cleaner doesn't leave a film on my stamps and the Stampin Scrub's pads can be totally removed for rinsing out. With use the inks from your stamps will collect in the pads and you will need to rinse them out. Some other stamp scrubbers do not have removable pads and this makes it a little trickier to clean.
When you use solvent ink or Stazon you HAVE to use Stazon cleaner. Solvent ink is a permanent ink and must be washed off right after you use it or it will stain and turn your stamps yellow. The Stazon cleaner has a dabber type end and you simple scrub the stamp directly with the dabber and use a towel or paper towel to wash it off. I use towels that I get in a pack from WalMart. They are in the photo above.
Some people use baby wipes to clean their stamps and this is fine. I think it's more environmentally friendly to use washable cotton towels. They are inexpensive and can be used over and over.
If you want to use baby wipes you MUST make sure you are using alcohol free. If they aren't your stamps will turn yellow and brittle.

What tools do I need to use a clear stamp?
- Clear Stamp
- Acrylic Block: these come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some also come with lines so you can line up your stamp.
- Ink: any ink can be used on acrylic stamps, but you will need to proper cleaner. You can also use acrylic paints.
- Stamp Cleaner

How do I use a clear stamp?

What ink can I use on clear stamps?
You can use any type of ink on clear stamps! You can even use acrylic paint!
If you use Stazon it is important to clean the stamp with Stazon cleaner as mentioned above.
You can even use markers to selectively color your stamp.
Versamark Ink: (Typing that makes me realize I need to do an entire post on Versamark ink!) Versamark ink isn't just for heat embossing! Versamark ink also comes in handy when you have an acrylic stamp that is tacky. By tacky I mean that even after you have coated the top layer with ink it still sticks to your paper.
All you have to do to take that tackiness away is first ink the stamp with Versamark and then ink with whatever ink you are going to use. This tip even works with Stazon. Don't worry! The Versamark ink will not damage your other ink pads unless it's the sparkly Versamark. Then it will just add some sparkle to your other ink pads.

How acrylic stamps differ from wood and cling mount stamps:
Wood Stamps: Wood stamps have been around, well, since forever! A couple of the most well known wooden stamp companies are Stampin Up and Hero Arts.
I love wood stamps and there are some die hard wooden stampers out there! Wood stamps are more durable than acrylic. The actual stamp is made of rubber which can stand up to tons of usage, heat, and it will give you a perfectly clean image with any type of ink. The rubber stamp is then mounted on a wood block. With wood stamps you don't have to use an acrylic block because the rubber stamp is mounted on wood.
A disadvantage of wood stamps is that you can't see exactly what you are stamping like you can with clear stamps. Now there is a tool called the Stamp-a-ma Jig that will help you line up wood stamps, but there is something to be said for seeing exactly where you are stamping!
When you use acrylic/clear stamps you have to have an acrylic block to mount the stamp on. With wood you just ink and go.
Storage: Another advantage of clear stamps is storage. Wood stamps take up a lot of space. Clear stamps come on a clear sheet that you can store in 3 ring binders or binders with clear sleeves. BUT you must keep your clear stamps clean on both sides or they can fall off of the sheets and trust me...they are difficult to find!
I also store my clear stamp sheets in baskets. I simply flip through them to find the one I want to use.
Clear Cling Mount: There is a third category of stamps that I have to mention. They are called Clear Cling Mount. These are great if you are a rubber stamp lover, but want to see what you are stamping.
Clear Cling Mounts are rubber stamps that have a cling material on the backside so that you can put them on an acrylic block to stamp. Some have the image of the stamp printed on the back and some don't.  (See photo) A downside of these is that they sometimes have trouble staying on the acrylic blocks!

My Favorite Clear Stamp Companies:
Technique Tuesday: Hands down one of my favorite clear stamp company. I used to teach the TT classes at my local scrapbook store, Just 4 Keeps. Ali Edwards recently joined with them and has created some awesome stamps! I am giving away one of her stamp sets! Click HERE to read about it! Also HERE or your local scrapbook store is a great place to buy.

Hero Arts: Hero Arts makes every type of stamp! Rubber/wood, cling mount, and even acrylic! They are awesome and just teamed up with Basic Grey! My all-time favorite company!

Inkadinkadoo: This brand of stamps is manufactured by EK Success. I just love their style and range of images! You can buy them at Hobby Lobby or HERE.

We R Memory Keepers: If you know me you know I love anything that matches. I can't help it! It's such a time saver! That's one of the reasons I love their stamps! They have a huge selection with matching paper packs to go with the stamps! Love that! To shop click HERE or visit your local scrapbook store!
Hero Arts: Hero Arts has been around forever! They made every kind of stamp you can think of! They also have a wonderful blog full of inspiration!

Common Problems:
My stamp didn't stamp my image perfectly!
Try stamping on a good solid surface. Glass mats are perfect for stamping! Some companies also offer foam mats, but I prefer glass! Glass mats are easy to clean and very durable so they are worth the investment.
Another thing to keep is mind is how you stamp. Do not rock your stamp. Simply press down evenly and lift straight up.

My stamp didn't ink evenly!
Always ink your stamp facing up. That way you can see where you have ink and where you don't. Also DO NOT rub the ink pad back and forth. PAT the ink onto the stamp. When you rub the ink pad back and forth you get ink into the little crevices and you will not get a clean image when you stamp!

My stamp won't stay on my block!
The back of your stamp has to be clean to cling to the block OR the sheet it came on. Oils and dirt from our fingers will cause this to happen as well. Simple clean the back of the stamp and it should stick!

My stamp sticks to my paper!
As I mentioned above in this post, coat your stamp with Versamark before you ink it. Sometimes new stamps are tacky and as you use them this will go away!

Phew! That took me almost all day to type up! I hope that isn't overwhelming and at the same time I hope I covered everything!
If you have ANY questions please don't hesitate to ask! You can ask by posting here or you can email me at!
Don't forget! I'm giving away a Technique Tuesday clear stamp set! Go HERE to enter!
I hope this post was helpful!
Have a great weekend!

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