Mementoes In Time

Stamping Tips and Techniques Part 1 - Papers

In a previous Tips and Techniques article 'Rubber v Acrylic', we looked at the different types of stamps available and compared the uses, advantages and disadvantages of each. In this series we are going to cover some of the basic stamping techniques. There are so many different techniques out there, so we can’t hope to cover all of them but this may turn into a longer series!


Stamping is one of the solid foundation card-making techniques and rest assured that if you haven’t tried it yet, it will catch up with you at some point.


I remember years and years ago, when rubber stamps for card making first became available. The range was quite poor, the designs rather very limited and there certainly wasn’t any consideration of using a stamp beyond pushing it onto an ink pad and then slapping it onto a piece of paper. Most people only associated rubber stamps with stamps made for business ,to stamp the word ‘Paid’ across a bill for example. This quickly grew into the multi-million dollar industry that it has become and if you have managed to avoid adding a few stamps to your craft stash, you must have a strong will.


Now, there are lots of stamp companies out there producing fantastic and creative designs which you can choose from and stamping can still be as simple as you like or you can get full on into a complex piece of artwork, stamping on a huge range of different materials, from basic cardstock,to candles, glass, fabric, wood and more!  We are going to be looking at the basic technique of stamping along with some of the accessories you might need.


In this first article, we are going to look at the papers and card you might have in your collection that you are thinking about using stamps on.

So what papers can I stamp onto?


I always think that one of the best bits about a stamping project is choosing the type of paper or card you are going to use, as the choice will greatly affect the type of effect you get. Stamping on glossy card will give a whole different look to stamping on vellum, or handmade mulberry papers.


You need to think about your project, if you are making a card for a particular occasion, then you will be trying to match that with the papers you use. For example, for a softer look, I will stamp onto handmade papers, which can produce a nice card for a special friend or to celebrate an anniversary or wedding. Here are some of the main types of papers you might come across.


Handmade Papers

These papers have a lovely texture to them but it can sometimes make stamping on them a little tricky. Some papers have flowers embedded into them, others are embroidered and these are probably best avoided unless you are confident that the image will take well.




The impression you get can be a bit patchy with the rough textured handmade papers, so if you are looking for a perfect image, this is probably not the best type to choose. In the photo below, you can see that the image is a little patchy in places because the stamp is not being applied equally to the whole surface and the ink itself was a quick drying one, so does not tend to be a very wet consistency. You can try using an ink which is nice and wet and holding your stamp on the paper a little longer.



Experiment with the inks you use on handmade papers. Some of the thicker papers will absorb ink quickly and this can also result in a blurry image as the ink is picked up by the paper and spreads out.



Vellum is a type of translucent paper which can either come plain or patterned and is available in a range of colours and thicknesses.You can stamp onto vellum but you need to be careful that the stamp doesn’t slide when you push it down as this will smear your image.



Vellum is not absorbent so the ink stays wet on the surface instead of sinking in and this is why it takes longer to dry. You can dry off your image with a heat gun but be gentle as this type of paper buckles very easily. If your paper buckles, you can let it cool down and then put the sheet under a heavy book to smooth it out but I have to be honest and say that I have never had much success with smoothing out buckled vellum.



I would always just find the right ink pad to use instead. I like to use a dye ink on vellum and leave it aside for around 10 minutes. You can use some of the pigment inks that dry quickly, like Brilliance ink pads and the super wonderful archival inks from Ranger which I have used in the photo above. These work really well on vellum.


Glossy, photo and Pearlescent Papers

Glossy papers and cards, including photo papers are coated,with a finish which is slick and shiny. You can get wonderful crisp images and this can work very well with fine detail stamps, as the ink never gets lost by being absorbed into the paper and spreading out.




However, this card is non-absorbent and so you will face many of the same problems as stamping onto vellum. Stamps may slide about since the ink remains on the surface, so you will need to apply your stamp directly to the paper, do not rock or move it about and then lift it straight back off.



Again, go for dye based inks or the solvent inks like Stazon, which work really well on glossy cardstock. I do love Stazon but you need to balance the advantages with the problems that come with using a solvent based ink pad, in terms of cleaning and preserving your stamps. See our previous article about Acrylic versus Rubber Stamps for more on this.


Pearlescent papers are also lovely to use but again,they are a coated type of paper, so the same rules apply.


Plain Cardstock

This is the staple of stampers. You can get your cardstock in different weights and thicknesses, in an array of colours and in either smooth or textured finishes. I love the linen and hammered cards for my cards but find it best to keep these for the base card and use a smooth cardstock for the actual stamping. This is because with the textured cards, the image often does not transfer well, even if the stamp has been well-inked.



If you think about the surface of a hammered texture card, there are hills and valleys, the ink adheres to the hills but does not reach the valleys. I find that in stamping ten images, only 3 or 4 will come out well, so it can be wasteful. Instead, I stick to the smooth cardstock which will very reliably produce a good image. I tend to use mainly white or cream as this gives me the flexibility to colour in my images with my pens and watercolours but you can stamp onto coloured card too.




Plain Paper

You can of course stamp onto papers, such as printer or photocopier papers. Papers are obviously thinner than cards, so the problem can be that the ink sink into the paper, making it damp and even warp. This is especially important if you are intending to colour your image with watercolours, as the extra wetness can really make the paper stretch. No amount of flattening underbooks will make it look good but if you want an ‘aged’ look, this can workquite well.




I only tend to use plain papers when I am making lots of cards on a tight budget, like for a school fete, or use them to test my stamp image out on before using it on cardstock and maybe wasting it. When you mount your image onto coloured cardstock, the colour tends to show through the thinner paper and this can look a bit cheap and nasty, so opt for using cardstock if you want a nice finish.


Watercolour Papers

Watercolour papers come in different textures and weights, just like other types of paper. You can get rough, hot-pressed and cold-pressed watercolour papers and each one is different to use.  I had a phase where I wanted to stamp onto watercolour papers all the time and I had mixed success with using them.


I found some wonderful heavy papers in a very snobby art shop, with a lovely rough texture that I thought would look great on some arty cards but found that they were not very successful when it came to stamping on them. The ink tended to‘bleed’ which would result in the image spreading losing the crisp definition. A little ink tended to go a long way! The most successful papers were the cold-pressed papers with some texture but not too much and the hot-pressed ones, which have a smooth finish.




Whatever papers you choose to stamp on, you are sure to get a range of interesting and beautiful effects, so get out the stamps and have a go and remember, there is no such thing as a mistake, just a learning experience!


I hope you have enjoyed this first article in our series on Basic Stamping. In the next article, we will be looking at all different kinds of Inks, including which inks to use with different papers and techniques.


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