Today I want to talk about basic stamping techniques. I have uploaded a You Tube video to show examples of what I’m about to discuss. Although I primarily use stamping in my bullet journal and art journal, these techniques are universal and can be used for scrapbooking, card making, etc.
I’m using next week’s layout in my bullet journal as an example. I ran into a number of issues with stamping and had a lot of corrections to make. In the spirit of honesty and “real life” I wanted to share the before picture of my terrible stamping and then the after picture where I managed to “fix” it. I figure there are a number of beginners out there who are anxious to stamp in their journals because of stamping disasters, so I decided to share these basic techniques with you.
First and foremost, I wanted to touch on acrylic blocks. There are a variety of different sizes out there and for good reason: there are a variety of different stamp sizes. You want to make sure that you use the right acrylic block based on your stamp size. The acrylic blocks I own are in sizes extra large, medium, small, and extra small. I also have a long rectangular block and a small rectangular block. You want to fit the stamp on the corresponding block.
The reason for this is simple: it allows even pressure creating the “perfect” stamped image. Pressure is a big part of stamping and brings me to the next section.
Stamping the Image
When stamping your image, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. For one, you want to make sure you have enough ink on the image and the ink is even throughout. One way of trying to ensure this is to hold the stamp pad in your hand and tap the pad onto the image. I find this to be really helpful in providing even saturation. When you push the image into the pad on the table, you may get ink splotches where you don’t want them, and then inadvertently transfer it onto your page.
Next, you want to provide even pressure when stamping onto your page. This can be done by making sure you have the right sized acrylic block. The next way to ensure even pressure is everyone’s least favourite, and most time consuming method: PRACTICE. Practice, practice, practice. You have to take stamp quality (see below) into consideration and then maybe do some practice on an scrap piece of paper. Pressure is tricky because too little, and your image is incomplete; too much and it’s splotchy (or bleeding into the details) and ruined.
You also want to avoid rocking the stamp back and forth. Doing that will result in swearing/tears/rage/all of the above because of an uneven image.
Now, what got me on my layout was the fact that my ink pad was drying up. No amount of inking or pressure was going to correct this. I was able to order a re-inker to saturate my stamp pad again. It worked great and now I am ready for more stamping.
I’m starting to feel like my real artistry lies in my ability to fix my mistakes! This layout is a prime example. With my trusty Tombow Mono Drawing pens (3 sizes to allow for different levels of detail), and my absolute favourite, can’t-live-without white gel pen, I was able to turn this layout around. I want to mention that I use a white gel pen as opposed to white out /liquid paper/correction tape because the white gel pen disappears on the bullet journal paper better. Since bullet journal paper tends to be an off-white, liquid paper is too visible. The number one thing to note with the gel pen is that, if your image is still a bit wet, it will pick up the colour (red = pink). Just wait for that first coat to dry and apply another layer.
With fine tip pens and a steady hand, you can almost fix every stamp mistake, especially if the image is too light. I would almost prefer a lighter/incomplete image to a splotchy one. A splotchy one can be adjusted/fudged a bit with the gel pen.
When an image has been smudged, You can go over the outer smudges with an eraser, Be careful erasing over the entire image. If the image hasn’t dried yet, then you will smudge the whole image. If it has dried, then you run the risk of dulling the image. I find my Brilliance stamp pad is pretty good for maintaining it’s, well, brilliance :P.
But when it comes to mistakes, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to LET THE IMAGE DRY! I cannot emphasize this enough! This is my biggest shortfall. I don’t wait long enough. You can use a hair dryer or a heat setting tool if you are super impatient. When using a heat setting tool though, don’t hold the tool too close to the paper, it will burn it. I have done this too many times than I care to mention.
So the last factor to “perfect” stamping is stamp quality. The better quality the stamp, the better the stamped image. A good quality stamp is also more forgiving when it comes to technique. It may not be as high maintenance when it comes to pressure. You still want to make sure you have the right sized acrylic block but it’s not as critical with a good quality stamp. My favourite stores are Studio Calico, Simon Says Stamp, Ali Edwards, and Studio L2E. The Ranger Ink stamps are also really great quality.
Quick disclaimer on Simon Says Stamp. This is an online store with probably a million different products. They carry a ton of different brands and it can be super overwhelming. I have yet to order from them and be disappointed. You want to be careful with Michaels Brand stamps, like recollections, as those are definitely more temperamental and definitely need more practice (as you can see in the above image).
I also want to mention that you want to make sure you gently remove the stamp from the film it comes with. Sometimes they get stuck and are hard to get off. Be as gentle as possible as you can stretch out the stamp and ruin the image. This, again, comes from experience. You also want to make sure you but the stamp back onto this film to keep it sticky and protected.
If you’re just starting out and want to make sure you enjoy it before loading up on supplies, the things I would recommend are as follows:
- A good stamp pad
- A nice stamp set (spend a little bit more money on it. If you get the cheapest you can find, you might be disappointed and turned off of stamping)
- Acrylic block in small or medium. You can normally buy them in sets. If that’s too much of an investment, a piece of plastic could work, a long as you’re able to apply even pressure.
I hope you all found this useful. My usual disclaimer still applies: I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands or products mentioned in my post or my video. I just wanted to share my experience as best I could. If you have any additional comments or anecdotes to share, I’d love to hear them! I am a bit of a crafting disaster at times so I do a lot of problem solving and testing. I’m also open to additional tips and tricks or information relating to what I discuss in this post. Please feel free to share in the comments or on social media!