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Rubber Stamping Tips & Ideas

Brayer Uses

A brayer is a rubber cylinder with a handle so that the rubber can be rolled on paper or other materials. They come in different widths and some allow the handle to be detached.

Here are some of the many uses for them.

Corrugator Uses

A corrugator is a small device used to crimp paper, giving it a wavy texture like corrugated cardboard. The plastic variety were originally made for wringing the last bits of artist paint out of tubes.

Here are some tips for using them. (Some of these ideas are from Gingerwood.)

Roller Wheel Uses

A roller wheel consists of a plastic handle, a stamp on a wheel, and an ink cartridge (available in many colors). The ink cartridge and stamp wheel are snapped into the handle. With a roller wheel, the stamp is automatically inked and you can stamp continuously.

A "T" shaped stamp positioner or other thick straight edge is a nice guide for stamping in a straight line.

Shaker Card Tips

Shaker cards are made with a piece of foam core board between two pieces of card stock. A window is cut through the center of the foam core board and also through the front piece of card stock. A piece of acetate (clear plastic) is placed between the front card stock and foam core so that you can see into the opening. Small objects such as confetti are placed in the opening in the foam core board so that they move around when the card is shook.

Shaker card adhesive - After looking for the ideal adhesive for assembling shaker cards, Mono Adhesive permanent bond by Tombow was recommended by another stamper.

Be sure to use a brand new craft knife (X-Acto knife) when cutting out the piece of foam core and the center of the foam core. Otherwise the foam core will have rough, messy edges.

Hold the craft knife blade at a right angle to the foam core when cutting to get straight edges.

When assembling, place the adhesive right next to the opening in the window without letting it show through the window. This will reduce the chance that confetti or other items inside will get stuck between the layers when the card is shook.

Apply the adhesive continuously, without any gaps around the opening in the foam core board in order to reduce the chance of "leaks."

Fill the inside of the foam core board window with confetti, store-bought snow, small seashells, sand, or anything else you might find.

To cover rough foam core egdes, cut strips of paper to fit and glue in place.

Wearing Stamped Pins

While my stamped pin collection is far smaller than those of many other stampers, I still don't like having to pin them on each time that I want to wear them to a stamp meeting.

Pin Vest - One way to solve this problem is to buy an inexpensive vest at Kmart or Walmart. You can then use fabric stamps to decorate the back of it and attach your pins to the front. If you get a denim vest, remember that a lighter denim will be easier to get the pins through. I have my vest hanging in my stamp room on a decorative hanger when I'm not wearing it.

Pin Ribbons - Another idea that I have seen friends use is to buy one inch thick ribbon and put a safety pin at one end. You then pin that end to your clothes and attach your pins to the ribbon. This seems to work well at conventions when you're rapidly acquiring pins from other stampers.

Sources of Inspiration

Here are some ways to find inspiration when you hit "stamper's block."

Paper Edgers

I have over a dozen pairs of paper edges. They have many uses and add a lot to stamp art. Fiskars is one of the companies that makes paper edgers.

Scallop edge scissors are my favorite. They can make two different types of corners. Use the curve of one scallop to round a corner. Or use the peaks on either side of a single scallop to cut an interesting corner. It would look something like ^U^ on a bottom corner. You may need to experiment with these two corners to get them to work.


Stamping Space

my old stamping room
A previous stamping area.

my current stamping room
My current stamping area. (5/2001)

Having a place to work where you can leave works in progress until another time and where all of your supplies are organized, makes it easier to find time to stamp and make that time more productive.

Even if you don't have a rubber room to yourself, you can set up an area for your supplies. After thinking for a long time what the best method of organization for my supplies would be, I decided to put up shelves over my work table. I used particle board shelves and metal wall brackets to keep it as inexpensive as possible. (My set of eight shelves probably cost around $100.) My stamps are organized by subject in labeled cardboard trays from soup and juice cans, that I got from the local warehouse store. The lower shelves are only far enough apart for the trays to fit between them. In this way, you have make-shift stamp drawers. Having the stamps up on shelves keeps the workspace clear. In addition, the use of the shelving brackets makes the shelves flexile -- the upper shelves are farther apart to leave room for shoeboxes containing ribbon, and other supplies, and boxes of envelopes. I also have a desk organizer which I purchased from Sam's Club for around $30 which makes good use of the vertical space under the first shelf.

In my current work area, I have a six foot table and another table slightly shorter table arranged in an "L" shape. This gives me an ideal work area, with lots of work space and table top storage space.

I have two lamps which clamp onto the table top. I find it necessary to have two lamps in order to eliminate shadows while working.

In my previous stamp area, my collection of different colored papers were organized by color in a crate pendaflex filer that I got from The Container Store. This crate was stored under the table when I wasn't working. I bought casters (wheels) that are sold for these crates and found that this makes the crates much easier to pull out from under my work table when I need something from them.

In my current stamp area, I store my colored papers in a literature organizer which I bought from the warehouse store, Sam's Club, for $33. It has 24 shelves made to hold about a ream of paper each. These are also sold at office supply stores, but usually at a higher price. This is a great way to organize card stock and be able to see all the papers you have, if you have the space for this set up.

I also have a plastic storage unit with drawers to organize supplies, such as stamp pads and embossing supplies. These can be found at department stores such as Kmart, Target or Walmart.

Each of my different embossing powders is stored in a plastic sandwich container. These are stored on stacked letter trays. When I emboss, I can spoon powder on the card while holding it over the container and I don't lose any powder.

Stamp Notebook

It's nice to have a notebook with images from all of the stamps in your collection. I keep a notebook like this in a loose leaf binder with dividers to separate the different sections. I recommend a looseleaf binder so that as your collection expands, pages can be easily rearranged and inserted. Either blank white paper can be used to stamp the images on and placed in the notebook, or the images can be stamped on paper, cut out and then placed in magnetic photo album sheets in the binder. The advantage of photo album sheets is that while they take up more space than regular paper, images may easily be rearranged when new categories are created in the notebook as your collection grows.

When I'm going on a trip and can't take my stamps, I take this binder and a notebook so that I can plan cards to make later. A stamp notebook is also good to have so that you can verify whether you have a particular stamp while shopping or to show other stampers your collection.


I have often found it difficult to keep my rubber stamp spending under control. Here are some ideas that I have found helpful.

Stamp Carving

It is really fun and easy to carve your own rubber stamps.

You need the following items:

In the DC area, you can get RS carving supplies at Purrfect Stamps in Gaithersburg, MD and Pearl Art and Crafts.

The Speedball carving tools are great because they are "V" shaped so that they lift the excess rubber out as you cut. (Much easier than trying to carve with a craft knife!)

There are two different Speedball kits that I've seen. One includes a plastic handle tool and five different sized carving tips, including a "straight" blade. The other kit includes a wooden handle tool, about three different carving tips and a block of rubber. I would recommend the plastic handle set because the plastic handle is easier to change carving tips than the wooden handle sets, and you get the full set of carving tips. However the wooden handle set includes everything you need to start and so it is a nice starter set.

  1. First you need to transfer your image to the rubber so that you have an image to carve around. You can create your own artwork or trace an image with a pencil on tracing paper, or you can use a photocopied image. Using either method, transfer the image to the rubber by placing the paper on the rubber, image side down, and rubbing with an iron set to low heat. Peel up a corner of the paper, holding the rest of the paper in place with the other hand, to see if the image has transfered. If not, continue rubbing with the iron until the image is transferred sufficiently. This should take under a minute.
  2. Most speedball kits include a "straight" blade similar to a craft knife. This blade can be used to cut straight down through the rubber to cut the image out of the rest of the block.
  3. To carve out the image, select a carving tip based on the amount of detail of the image to be carved. For a simple image, a larger tip; for a more detailed image, a smaller tip works better. Carve away the part of the rubber that does not contain the transferred image. Always keep the hand that is holding the rubber between you and the rubber and cut away from yourself so that you don't slip and cut yourself.
  4. When you've carved your image, ink your stamp and stamp it to see how it looks. You can then carve a little more, if necessary, and test it again until you are satisfied.

Mounting Your Own Stamps

Once you have carved your own stamps, you may want to mount them on a wood block or by another method to make them easier to use. If you use a wood block, you can buy cushioning (see web sites below) or cut a piece of a computer mouse pad for cushioning. Rubber cement is one possible adhesive to use to put the mount, cushioning and rubber stamp together.

Another method of mounting rubber stamps is acrylic mounts. The benefits of this method is that you just buy one acrylic mount in each of a couple of sizes and then you can use them with all your stamps since they are a temporary mount. The acrylic mounting system uses an acrylic block, cling plastic to allow the stamp to adhere to the block temporarily, foam cushion (optional depending on thickness of stamp rubber), and the rubber stamp. Foam cushioning can be purchased with adhesive already applied to both sides to make assembly simple (see links below).

Web sites selling stamp mounting supplies:
Blockheads Rubber Stamps and Accessories
Sunday International

Miscellaneous Tips

March 2000

Make confetti
Make confetti with various shaped paper punches, using different colored paper. (see confetti flinger instructions web site below)

Tattoo stamp pads
These stamp pads can be used to make washable tattoos with your stamps. They're made by Stewart Superior, 1-800-558-2875, http://www.tattoopads.com.

March 1999

When you get a set of notecards with an appeal for a donation to a charity, save the envelopes to use with stamped cards.

Crumpled tissue paper
Save the crumpled tissue paper from gifts. Crush it in your hands so that it is evenly crumpled. Then apply a complementary color of ink with a brayer. Gold and silver look great. Use it as a layering paper with stamping.

If you haven't already gotten into collage, here's a way to start. Create a collage box and add any items that could be used in collage work. A collage box will help inspire you by keeping all of your materials in one place. Examples are:

Collage helps you extend your stamp collection by allowing you to add other elements to your stamped work.

Paper scraps
Save scraps of paper for use with paper punches.

Card log
If you find it impossible to remember what stamps you used on someone's card last time so that you don't give them the same card twice or need a list of ideas for cards when you're stuck, start a card log. In a spiral bound notebook, note the date, the person the card was made for and the occasion on one line; on the next line, note a description of the card and the stamps used. You'll end up with a resource of card ideas and list of to whom you've already sent them.

Rubber cement is a great glue to use in paper craft. Since it's not water-based, it won't warp your papers. In addition, acid-free rubber cement is now available. (Not known whether it was acid-free before.)

Dressed up doilies
Add some extra color to paper doilies used in stamping projects by adding color, gold or silver ink with a brayer. It will bring out the detail of the design more clearly also.

Gocco screen printer
Amazing! I saw a demo of this great gadget and had to get my own! The Gocco screen printer allows you to quickly make a large number of prints with multiple colors of ink. It basically works by making a screen from a photocopy. Ink is then applied to the screen and you start printing. The ink takes about 30 minutes to dry and during that time, you can even apply embossing powder to the wet ink and emboss! For more information about the Gocco printer, see the web page at http://www.gocco.com.

The Gocco printer start-up kit sells for around $100 and includes several colors of ink and enough supplies to make 5 screens. The printer and accessories are available in the Washington, DC area at Purrfect Stamps (Gaithersburg) and Pearl Art & Craft (Rockville and Alexandria). See RS books page for books on this topic.

November 1998

Paper Scraps
Save scraps of paper for using in paper pulp for paper making. (Paper making kits available at many craft stores.)

Uses for old road maps

Kreate-a-lope Envelope Maker
These are great envelope making templates. They are made from light-weight acrylic, so you just tear the paper along the template and no cutting is necessary. They're made by Green Sneakers, Inc., P.O. Box 614, Bel Air, MD 21014. They come in several different sizes, including 4 3/8" x 5 5/8" (A2) and 5" x 7 1/8"(A7). A set of two costs about $10. Using these templates, you can quickly make envelopes from wallpaper, wrapping paper, newspaper/comics, magazine pages, etc. (Tip: If you don't like the slightly torn edge you get using these templates, use a craft knife to cut around the template -- just be careful not to cut the template with the knife.)

Marker Color Guide - I created a WordPerfect document for listing all the Marvy LePlume II marker numbers and color names. Then I printed it and marked each color next to its listing. I use this list to choose colors for stamping projects since the marker caps don't always represent the marker color very closely. You can download the WordPerfect 6.0 copy (for Windows 3.1), or download an ASCII text version.

Leaf rubbings for Fall cards
Try adding an extra something to your Fall cards by doing leaf rubbings. (Remember doing these with crayons in elementary school?) Choose a flat leaf with a nice shape (color is not important here). Since the veins are more prominent on the back, lay it face down. Place a piece of letter weight paper (same as printer paper) over top and color over the leaf with the side of a colored pencil. (As always, I highly recommend Berol Prismacolor pencils) Use good fall colors such as brown, orange, bright yellow, green, and deep red. You will need to hold the paper and leaf in place while coloring to prevent slipping. This is a great technique when you don't have many Fall-related rubber stamps.

Holiday Card-Making Tips

July 1998

Spare cardboard
Save the cardboard backing from notepads. This can come in handy for sending with photos or a special card that needs protection. It can also be used to for the backing of a picture frame with a stamped border; cut a triangular piece of cardboard and attach to the back for a support.

Paper scraps
Save your paper scraps for making bookmarkers (long strips), layering with stamped images, or adding to a collage.

Use lined or unlined 5x7 index cards for postcards. They come in many different colors.

Handmade paper edges
The Art Deckle by Design A Card gives paper a really nice deckled edge that simulates the edge of handmade paper. This product was also reviewed in the Rubberstampmadness May/June 1998 issue. It is a metal ruler with one side having an irregular edge. You place your paper face down and tear along the irregular edge of the Art Deckle. This gives you control over the tearing, and results in a torn/feathery edge that you don't get with deckle scissors.

The Art Deckle comes in lengths of 6" $15.00, 12" $21.95, and 18" $37.95. Each length has a slightly different depth to the deckle edge with the 18" being the deepest and 6" being the most shallow. (I have the 12" and really like it for cards.)

Contact Design A Card at P.O. Box 5314, Englewood, FL 34224 or (941) 475-1121

Child's birthday card
Decorate the outside of the card as usual and color. Inside, stamp a scene in black ink and leave for the child to color. You might include a small pack of crayons. (This almost seems like cheating!)

June 1998

Removing lint and glitter from stamps
Tape works great for removing fuzz and glitter rom stamps before inking.

Stamp Positioning
A piece of clear acrylic works great with a stamp positioner instead of tracing paper. It can be reused and doesn't slide under the positioner.

Heloise's Art & Craft Recipes Pamplet includes recipes for modeling doughs, glues (including envelope glue), paints and drying flowers. Write to Hints from Heloise Pamplets, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279, include a business SASE, a check for $3.50 and indicate that you want the Arts & Crafts pamplet.

Microwave Flower press
A great, new product is available for instantly drying and pressing flowers. It's the Microfleur by Art Quest. You just place flowers in the microfleur and put it in the microwave! Dried flowers are a great accent to rubber stamping. Ask at a local craft or stamp store.

May 1998

RS Cleaning pads
For an easy way to clean your stamps, go to the hardware store or a discount department store (such as Walmart) and buy a painting pad. They are flat and their fuzzy texture easily removes ink from detailed stamps, as well as pigment ink from any stamp. Just wet and rub your stamp over it. These are just like the pads that RS companies sell, but much less expensive.

CD Cards
Save the free CDs that you get in the mail or at computer shows. You can decorate the CD and make an insert for the front of the case for a really different type of card.

Colorful packing material
To make colorful packing material for gift bags or boxes, accordian fold a piece of colored paper, unfold and then run it through a paper shredder.

Learn calligraphy so that you can write an appropriate message on a card for any occasion without buying tons of new word stamps. There are many calligraphy books available and most craft stores sell felt-tip calligraphy pens in a variety of colors. Just remember that it takes practice and don't get frustrated. With a bit of time invested, you can do "beautiful writing."

Berol Prismacolor Pencils
For really great colored pencils, try Berol Prismacolors. These pencils have a really nice soft lead and so you can get variations in color easily.

Rubber Mounted Stamps
To make your rubber mounted stamps much easier to use, pull the rubber die off of the mount, then carefully cut around the image. You can usually reapply the die to the mount without extra adhesive. This will eliminate the problem of the corners of the untrimmed die printing.

April 1998

Dryer sheets for layering
Use used dryer sheets for layering instead of mulberry paper. Try tinting it by adding color with a brayer.

Removing stickiness from scissors
Goo Gone is wonderful for removing that sticky gum from your scissors after you've used them to trim rubber dies with adhesive on them (like rubber mounted stamps that need to be removed from the mount and trimmed before using or unassembled stamp sets.) You can find this in craft stores such as Joann's Fabric and Crafts, or The Container Store.

Simple Paper Casting
Press wet toilet tissue into a cookie press, press the water out and then let dry. The design can then be colored with chalks and added to a card.

Stamping with Kids
My friend, Marlene, in a rubber stamping club that I attend, says that whenever she wants to stamp, her kids want to stamp too. What she does to keep them busy so that she can get some serious stamping done is stamp some of her larger images on white paper for her kids to color with their crayons. This way they feel like they're "stamping" too.

Mouse pads for stamp cushion
I have found that the free mouse pads you can get from computer companies at fairs and conventions make great stamp cushion (and they're free!) Sometimes you have to peel a plastic layer from the top before using it.

Wallpaper Books
Old wallpaper books are a great source of patterned papers to use with stamped art. You can get them by asking at a local hardware store for discontinued/old books.

Image Swaps
Exchange sheets of stamped images with friends to collect new images to cut out and use with your own stamps.

Free Envelopes
Ask for extra envelopes where cards are sold. (I've had mixed luck with this, but it's worth a try. Sometimes you can really hit the jackpot.)

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Stacy Ichniowski
Email: stacy@tealdragon.net
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