How to Know What Kind of Stamps You Should Buy

I’ve had many customers ask me how to know what kind of stamps they should buy.  The simple answer is:  Buy the stamps you like to work with best.  They all have pros and cons, so personal preference is a big factor.

It used to be that Stampin’ Up! only sold rubber stamps with wood blocks.  Over the years they’ve added more options, and it’s easy to get confused.  So here’s a quick guide to Stampin’ Up! stamps:

Rubber Stamps

Rubber stamps are made from high quality rubber with a layer of foam between the rubber and the block they’re mounted on.  They’re pre-cut and ready to mount on blocks.

Stampin' Up! rubber stamp mounted on wood block

Stampin' Up! Timeless Textures rubber stamp set showing how stamps come pre-cut in a sheet.

Pros:

  • The rubber holds up beautifully over time, especially when you use a cleaner that conditions as it cleans, like Stampin’ Mist.
  • The raised areas of the stamp are higher than on photopolymer (or clear) stamps, so you’re less likely to get ink between the lines.
  • The foam layer provides cushioning when you stamp, so you’re more likely to get an evenly stamped image, even in the center of a large stamp.

Cons:

  • You can’t see through the stamp to position it on your project.  When positioning is important, especially with sentiment stamps, use the Stamp-a-ma-jig for best results. (see the video below on How to Use the Stamp-a-ma-jig)
  • When you ink the stamp, it’s easy to get ink on the edges of the rubber, which will create stray marks on your project.  Tip:  Look at your stamp after you ink it, and wipe any ink off the edges.

Stray ink marks caused by ink on the edges of a rubber stamp.

Stampin’ Up! sells two types of rubber stamps:

Wood Mount Rubber Stamps

Pros:

  • Your stamps are always ready, no hunting for the right block.
  • They don’t fall off the blocks
  • They’re the easiest stamp to use with the Stamp-a-ma-jig.

Cons:

  • You pay for the high quality wood blocks with every stamp set, so they’re the most expensive.
  • They take up a lot of storage room.

Clear Mount Rubber Stamps

Pros:

  • Less expensive than wood mount, but more expensive than photopolymer.
  • You have to purchase clear blocks to mount them on, but you only buy the blocks once, not with every new stamp set.
  • They take up much less space on your stamp storage shelves!  Here’s the difference between wood and clear mount cases:

Wood-mount stamp cases vs. clear-mount cases from Stampin' Up!

Cons:

  • Clear Mount stamps can come off the clear blocks easily.  See video below on How to Get Clear Mount Stamps to Stick to the Blocks.
  • When you use them with the Stamp-a-ma-jig (SAMJ), if the stamp comes off the block you have to re-stamp the SAMJ image sheet or you’re positioning will be off.

Photopolymer Stamps

Stampin’ Up! resisted making clear stamps for a long time until they found a material that meets their quality standards.  Some clear stamps that are cheaply made can get dry and brittle, turn yellow, and even tear easily if they’re too thin.  Use photopolymer stamps on the same clear blocks you use for clear-mount rubber stamps.

Pros:

  • You can see through the stamp so you can position it without the SAMJ (except for the occasional small sentiment).
  • They stick to the clear blocks really well.
  • They’re flexible, so you can change the shape of a line or word.

Photopolymer stamps are flexible so you can make lines and words curvy

Cons:

  • All clear stamps get stained, especially with inks that are black or have some red in them.  The staining doesn’t change the performance of the stamp, and as long as you clean them well, the ink won’t  transfer to new projects.
  • They stick well not only to the clear blocks, but any plastic or smooth surface.  I’ve lost more than one stamp that got stuck on something, because I didn’t see it.
  • Without the foam layer found in rubber stamps, you can get unevenly stamped imagesTip:  use a layer of foam under your work, like the Stampin’ Pierce Mat or a couple layers of craft foam.  In this photo, the image on the left was stamped without the Stampin’ Pierce Mat under the sample, the one on the right was with the Mat.

Vintage Leaves stamp set from Stampin' Up!, showing images stamped with and without Stampin' Pierce Mat

  • Since the raised lines of the stamp aren’t as thick as on the rubber stamps, you might get ink in between the lines.  Especially with Stampin’ Up!’s really juicy firm foam ink pads.  See the video below on How to Use Stampin’ Up! Inks.  It has tips for using pads that are very juicy.  Here’s what a stamp looks like that got ink between the lines:

Photopolymer stamp with ink between the lines

Watch these videos for more tips for using Stampin’ Up! stamps and inks:

 

 

That’s the scoop!  If you’re wondering what kind of stamps you should buy, bookmark this article so you can refer to it!

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