Saturday, November 3, 2007

Adventures in Acrylic Stamp Land: The Skinny on Acrylic Stamps

I ordered a whack of acrylic stamps (despite the fact that I'd never tried them before) and I was a little (a LOT) disappointed when I first played with them. They do not ink well with classic inks and I found that they do not ink well with S.U.'s craft ink either. Since I own all the S.U. inks and card-stock I was bummed: heartbreak city :0( but wait! Esther (marvelous m.i.l.) had bought me some chalk inks to experiment with, and lo and behold they work amazingly. Now I just need more colours, lol. The great news is that you can emboss with chalk inks (that made me a happy camper, since I was convinced they'd dry too quickly.)

ETA: (APR 02) If you sand Fancy Pants stamps with a sanding block or sand paper (not too coarse, though) they'll work well with even Stampin Up Classic ink and definitely with Craft ink. This is nice, because I don't always want the chalk ink colours or look and I am reluctant to buy a zillion inks. Other techniques to prime difficult acrylic stamps include using an eraser on them, or just cleaning them a lot... :0)

Edited to Add: The Encore pads in silver & gold work beautifully and Versamark works like a dream with embossing powder over it. S.U. craft ink on top of Versamark works well. Some people swear that S.U. craft inks do work by themselves. I probably haven't been patient enough (knowing me!) I'm told these inks also work well: other pigment inks, Colurbox Cats eyes, Versafine & Fabrico.

On a 'craft/pigment ink side-note,' I did read a pointer about them that makes total sense: Don't store new craft/pigment pads upside down as they will flood and make a bloomin' mess! (True in my experience.) So, with S.U. pads this is confusing: if they're too juicy, store them with the writing side down since they are designed to be upside down by nature. Older/dried craft stamp pads can be stored regularly.

Some things I learned while researching acrylics (and playing with them):

1. STAMPING: They require a lighter touch and some people like to stamp with a thin mouse pad or fabric underneath for stamps sans cushion. Some suggest gentle rocking motion.

2. PURCHASING: Apparently, quality matters: the dollar ones will stamp less clean images. (Not sure if this is true yet since I haven't bought dollar ones yet. I'll keep you posted.)

3. CLEANING: Don't use Stazon or regular cleaners to clean them (if you are worried about durability; I, however, loved one stamper's comment on s.c.s that they are "tools not jewels.") Ideally, purchase acrylic cleaner from the company you buy your stamps from (different companies use different polymer) and occasionally clean with soap and water to make 'em sticky again. (Too many washes with dish soap causes build up.)

When cleaning AVOID baby wipes that have any alcohol or oils/lanolin in them. See this great s.c.s post for more on baby wipes.

4. STORING: Store acrylic stamps in their original containers out of sunlight. It makes them yellow and can make 'em brittle.

PRIMING your stamps: I'd err on the side of caution. Some recommended ways in order of least to most "dangerous!":

1st. Ink the stamp and stamp it on scrap paper a few times;
2nd. Ink stamps with a pale colour (prevents staining.) Rub the ink with your finger all over the stamp; repeat. Clean stamps well.
3rd. Rub on the stamp with a fabric ink pad (like classic S.U.) & clean really well with Stamp'n'Scrub.
4th. Rub with a paper bag/textured card stock/eraser (while stamp's on the block=no tearing.)
5th. As a last resort I might try fine fine fine sandpaper, but it seems risky.
6th: Rub with baby powder. (Not sure about this one, but it would cut down on oils in the stamps that cause ink to bead--may dry them out over time though.)

CARD DETAILS: For the card below, I've used Dew Drop versa Magic ink in Aegean Blue (wee bit lighter than "Blue Bayou") and White Pearls translucent embossing powder (from Michael's.) Then I rubbed on "Not Quite Navy" craft ink.
The acrylic stamps used to make this card (swirls on the main background card) were reasonably priced on ebay ($13.99) and are made by Autumn Leaves. They're called "Swirls V2" by Rhonna Farrer. Here's the whole set:
The metal bit that joins the two ribbons is a Tibetan silver spacer ring with a silver jump ring and an aluminum tag. I've also used S.U. silver brads. The flower stem is from Stamping Bella (the grey stamp in the photo above--NOT acrylic, by the way.) I was looking for a pretty (reasonably large) flower stem for a long time. I think this one will go amazingly with S.U.'s "Doodle This" set (or the "Scribble This" set, for you Aussies--forgive my dirty talk,heehee!) The stem is stamped on Stampin Up's 'Prints Designer Series Paper' [By the by, there's a great special on designer papers 'til the 3oth.] I've distressed the "Soft Sky" paper with a nail-file (used it on the aluminum tag & brads too.)

For details on how to make the flower please hop over to this "prima" post.

Perhaps you're wondering If I would buy acrylic again? Absolutely. Since you make up for the money you invest (in the acrylic blocks & chalk inks) by saving on stamp purchases & shipping costs, conserving storage space, and saving trees (not to mention having your pick of every stamp ever made--I love to use my acrylic blocks for unmounted rubber too. I used to use foam & Alene's Tack it Over & Over, but thanks to Tracy I'm switching to EZ mount.
A POINTER I wish I'd had when I started acquiring acrylic BLOCKS: 3 sizes of blocks will do for most stamps. I'd choose 6x6 if you're interested in "Fancy Pants" or other background stamps (stamp set pictured above. Click the photo for a better look--They'll run you around $39.00 & the right bottom corner stamp is just under 6x6). I'd also get a medium sized block one & a smallish block. By limiting your number of blocks, you can buy high quality ones with side grooves/grips & a grid in the block (indispensable for lettering.)

ETA: a good video for lettering techniques

Thanks for checking out this particularly verbose post! :0)


Anonymous said...

Another tip... invest in a Hot Marks type tool. You just want the hot knife attachment. Use it to trim ez mount from around your um's. It cuts like buttah! I think there's a video on Youtube if you want to see it done. Your scissor hand will thank you!

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Thanks Mari!

That's an awesome tip. I'd LOVE one of those. Santa? Are you listening? I'll stop being naughty, promise!


Anonymous said...

so much investment in time & munny,all your work is beautiful,love momp

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all this wonderful info on using clear stamps. I have had a few problems and I know have not gotten the most use of these wonderful stamps.

I am sharing this link with some friend so they can also benefit from your generous sharing of this information.

Thanks once again - now where do I get more chalk ink pads!!!???

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Thanks so much Sandy, I'm so glad this was useful for you I wish I could email you, but maybe your friend will see this and let you know :0) Here's a little more info on "priming" acrylic stamps for use with Stampin Up inks:

If you sand Fancy Pants stamps with a sanding block or sand paper (not too coarse, though) they'll work well with even Stampin Up Classic ink and definitely with Craft ink. This is nice, because I don't always want the chalk ink colours or look and I am reluctant to buy a zillion inks. Other techniques to prep acrylic is to use an eraser on it, or just clean it a lot... :0)

Happy Stampin'