Beginners Guide

Welcome to the fascinating world of stamping!

Stamping has evolved big-time over the last few years - imagine a great archway that crosses over many creative avenues and enjoyed by many, many people - men included!  Visualize a lone tree with many branches and this tree has roots that connects to roots from a whole grove of nearby trees - and you will get some idea of how rubberstamping together with die-cutting, origami and paper-engineering, quilting, altered art, book-making, AND the world of genealogy - just to name a few areas -  criss-crossed with one another to form, borrow and expand on ideas and techniques of today!

Manufacturers have come and gone in this truly great age of crafting, and some like  have earned a place as trusted companies that lead the way and listen to their crafters to bring quality products for us to use. Online shopping has eased the way and social platforms have provided a means to share and inspire!

And crafters have responded!  Once a new product is released - crafters quickly find more than one way to use it, generating new techniques, recreating older methods into new ones [consider fashion nail stamping] - and sending ideas zipping around the planet!

So WELCOME to this and more!  To HELP YOU GET STARTED - here are a few helpful tid-bits to let you in on where to start, and if its not here - FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME - ASK ME what-ever you like, nothing is to small to chat about!

I began with the most basic of supplies - ink and a stamp, and some nice acid-free paper - or cardstock.

I also had a few art supplies on hand that led to some useful substitutions until I was able to purchase better quality items - crayons, markers, pencils....and a good dose of WILLINGNESS to try, try and try!

How you evolve after that depends on your STYLE - your INTENTIONS or PURPOSE.

Do I purchase Rubber or Clear Stamps?
 - this depends entirely on your preference. But ALWAYS go for quality!

There are now a couple of ways to stamp - which gives you the option of how you wish to manage your stamping to suit your lifestyle - and storage considerations!

Top of the line, "Traditional" rubber stamps mounted on a wood block have a nice 'heft' - that is they feel substantial and well balanced in your hand.  Rubber stamps should be of a good ' thickness ' so the design of the stamp is raised to a good 'height'  from the surface of the paper.  This allows you to stamp without getting annoying ink smudges.  You can get rubber stamps 'unmounted" - see below.

Clear stamps - are just that, composed of clear acrylic polymer and aids you when positioning the stamp as you can see through the stamp and clear block. Again quality counts. Good polymers will have a solid weight and feel; easy to clean and should last quite long if properly cared for.

Mounting of the Stamps - this is another consideration nowadays. Rubber stamps can now be 'cling mount ' -  that is there is a film backing which allows the stamps to be mounted temporarily onto CLEAR BLOCKS. The absence of the wood mount cuts back on the amount of storage required for the rubber stamps and there are many choices now to suit this style of stamping.  Of course, they sell the CLEAR BLOCKS in many sizes.   And even a handy storage case for your blocks!!!

What kind of stamp(s) do I start with?

1. -  FOCAL IMAGE - choose a STAMP to be your 'focal image '.  It can be one stamp, such as a flower or a cute animal.  If you are unsure - begin with a STAMP SET which should have a collection of related images for you to choose from. Either way, you can have multiple projects from either one stamp or many, so think more of what images 'appeal' to you!  Remember, if you love it - then its a YES!  Otherwise, don't buy what you don't like or you won't use it enough.

2. - BACKGROUND stamps and techniques - now you can have 'layers' by including a background stamp, such as the lovely style of "French Script" or "Typed Script" or "Woodgrain" or a really pretty, flourish and scrolls image behind your focal stamp!  You can stamp your Focal stamp and Background stamp on a separate papers and layer them or begin to learn a technique called MASKING. Especially popular are special techniques that are easy {although messy at times} to create dynamic backgrounds such as washes, mixed media, spritzing, stencilling, resist, etc. Learn a new technique every week!

3. GREETINGS stamps - add a greeting or 'sentiment' to your piece!  A card becomes a birthday card, or anniversary, celebration, get well, holiday, etc. etc. depending on the addition of a greeting stamp.  Birthday and Thank You greetings are pretty standard to begin with.  And holiday greetings - you can add as many of these as you like to your collection!  A good set of mixed greetings can be a real investment!

4.  ALPHABET stamp collection - eventually you will want to expand on what you can express - whether for a card or a scrapbook page, altered art - or labels!  Gifts too - can be personalized with monograms!

What Other Supplies Will I Need?

Understand this is a brief introduction - there is so much out there to explore, you will never grow tired!

You will need ink and paper along with your stamp [and a clear block if you choose cling mount stamps].
Inks are varied, but you should begin with DYE INK such as Stampin' Up!'s Classic Ink and you should begin with a neutral colour such as black or brown. This will allow you to stamp an 'outline ' image and then you can leave it or colour it with different colouring supplies {watercolour crayons, chalks, artist pencils, etc}.   Next you should purchase at least one colour of ink - adding colours that appeal to you as you go along.  If for instance, you begin stamping near Christmas - you might want a red and green ink pads.

DYE INK is easily washable - so you can clean your stamps quite easily.  Once you have been introduced to stamping, you may wish to expand on your ink choices - such as PIGMENT inks or ALCOHOL inks which are permanent, non-washable ink. As they are not affected by water - so you can do many different effects and techniques with them that you can not do with dye inks.

PAPER - purchase a white or off-white archival quality paper to begin. And just like ink colours, add to your collection as you so desire.  Another neutral such as a brown, black, grey, beige, etc. often is very useful to pair with white or off-white.  Then colours - are as many as there are stars in the sky!  8-1/2 x 11 size cardstock is quite good for CARD-MAKING as you can make 2 full cards per sheet. If you are going to be SCRAPBOOKING - you will need some 12 x 12 in. sized cardstock. Papers come plain or patterned. Single or Double-Sided patterns. Smooth or Textured. Specialty Surfaces ( velvet, glittered). They come in collections - often packaged together. They may have co-ordinating stamps, and accent pieces such as stickers, ribbon, flowers, buttons, etc. Again - more fun!

Store your papers flat - and away from the damage of sunlight, moisture - and basic common sense.  Watch out for the oils on your fingertips or someone's wet little fingers!  Cardstock can be spoiled from substances on moist fingers - so don't let people grab your precious papers unless they have clean hands!

Well - I hope this has helped you to begin your journey into the world of stamping!   Don't worry too much - you can't go wrong, just start and see where it leads you!  And don't forget - share this with others, introduce them to this fascinating and enjoyable hobby!


Written and Published by B. Taylor. Please do not copy without author's consent. Please contact B. Taylor at   2011.