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Tips for Picking Your First Stamps

How to Buy Rubber Stamps

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An Outline Stamp

An Outline Stamp

Kate Pullen

Buying your very first stamps should be an exciting time, however when faced with the huge selection of rubber stamps that are available today, the task can sometimes feel daunting. So how does someone wanting to try their hand at rubber stamping pick the right stamps to start with?

The Challenge

It should be so simple - go into a stamp shop - buy a stamp – job done! However the reality is often quite different, with row after row of stamps of all shapes and sizes, each one vying for attention. This is an exciting prospect for many stampers, but for beginners it can be quite daunting.

There are two very good reasons why planning the first stamp purchase is important:

  • Starting a new hobby usually costs money and no one wants to waste money on unwanted or inappropriate supplies.
  • Some stamps are more suitable for beginners than others. It would be a shame to be put off stamping because the wrong sort of stamp caused disappointing results.

Picking the Right First Stamps

Before going to the shop or buying on line, it is useful to make a few decisions that will help you plan your purchase. Narrowing down the types of stamps required will help you head straight to the perfect stamp!

Project
Before making stamp choices, it is useful to decide what projects you are likely to be working on. If you are going to be making greetings cards for a birthday, invitations for a party or perhaps creating decorations, the type of project will help determine the type of stamp.

Tip: When buying a stamp for a specific project, instead of buying a single image and text stamp combined, try buying the two as separate stamps. This will give more flexibility from your stamps and maximize the potential ways the stamps can be used.

Size
Smaller stamps are easier for a beginner to work with than larger stamps. Very large stamps need constant pressure to ensure a consistent stamped image and this can be difficult to achieve for beginners. Likewise very tiny stamps can be difficult to work with as they are easy to ‘rock’ when stamping spoiling the finished effect. A good sized stamp for your very first project is a stamp that fits comfortably in your hand.

Tip: Build up your confidence using stamps before moving onto very large or very tiny stamps.

Fancy or Plain
Very fancy or detailed stamps look fantastic, however are slightly more tricky to work with than plain images. Detailed stamps require careful inking and constant pressure to stamp effectively.

Tip: Simple stamps have plenty of scope for decorating and embellishment meaning that they are great for beginners to use when exploring different or new techniques.

Outline or Solid Image
Stamps either have an outline of the image, meaning that the stamped image can be colored or decorated, or are solid. Solid image stamps are colored fully with ink and are good for creating strong or embossed images.

Tip: The choice of an outline or solid stamp will largely depend on personal preference and any projects planned. Outline stamps offer great opportunities for exploring different coloring techniques.

Mounted or Unmounted?
If you are starting stamping now, you are faced with a choice of mounted or unmounted stamps. The main difference is one of cost, with unmounted stamps being generally cheaper. Unmounted rubber stamps however (not clear acrylic stamps) need to be mounted, either using a mounting foam or by permanently attaching the stamp to a block.

Tip: Remember that unmounted clear stamps need to be attached to acrylic blocks. These blocks are not expensive but vital for the successful use of the stamps.

Making the First Stamp Purchase

  • If the budget will allow, try buying an outline and a solid stamp. This will allow you to try the two different types and explore the use of different stamping techniques.
  • Keep a look out at second hand sales and on websites such as eBay.com. Often stampers sell off their old or ‘retired’ stamps and this can be a good way to purchase a range of different types of stamps at a good price.
  • Ask the stamping store owner for advice if necessary. Some stores will offer sample stamps in store for you to try or have free workshops that are great for beginners.
  • Set a budget and stick to it! There will be many temptations that face stampers and setting a budget early on and sticking to it will help avoid a workshop of unwanted or unused supplies later on.
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