Monday, November 30, 2009
Feel Better Soon and Tips on Stamping with Clear Stamps
Leaves and bling, and purple and green. What more could you want?!?! This card is as straightforward as it looks.
Since I really don't have much to say about the card (except that I love it!), let's talk about getting good impressions with clear stamps. This card uses photopolymer stamps from PTI, which are high quality, stamp beautifully, and are very affordable. I love high-quality clear stamps but realize some people are either viscerally opposed to clear stamps or inexperienced and thus afraid to try them.
I fell in the latter group, got over my fear, and placed an order with PTI in August of 2007. Stamping with clear really is different from stamping with rubber, but the differences are easily overcome. For me, four main things affect clear-stamp image quality: ink, paper, stamping surface, and amount of pressure.
When stamping solid photopolymer images, I find some inks work better than others. Thicker inks like VersaColor (pigment inks), VersaMagic (chalk inks), Brilliance (fast-dry pigment inks), and ColorBox/SU craft (slower-drying pigment inks) give the best coverage and are my go-to inks for stamping with clear stamps.
These inks are very thick and sometimes require more frequent reinking than other types of inks, at least in my experience. I've bought pads that didn't work well at all, but once I reinked them, they worked beautifully.
A few other brands also work well with photopolymer, such as Memento and VersaFine and Palette. I use Palette Noir and Dark Chocolate for all outline images, clear or rubber. These work great for coloring in with any medium and don't smear.
Sometimes, SU classic and other thinner inks pool a bit or don't give complete coverage on clear stamps, especially poor-quality ones made of silicon rather than photopolymer. (BTW, I despise silicon stamps and refuse to buy any more of them...talk about visceral reactions!) I've heard you can ink clear stamps with VersaMark ink, then the dye ink, to get a good impression, but I've never needed to try that myself. Generally, SU classic works okay for me with clear stamps, especially with line images. But the thicker inks do give a nicer impression.
Another factor that affects image quality is paper. Cheap paper rarely takes ink well, in my experience. Some people prefer smooth paper like SU's whisper white; some prefer paper with a bit of tooth like PTI's white. I generally go with PTI's white because it's heavier, thus making a nicer one-layer card, and because the thicker inks dry faster on it than on smooth paper.
Basically, I'm too impatient to wait for thick inks to dry on smooth paper and tend to smear them. Grrrr.
Stamping surface also affects image quality. I rubber stamp mostly on a self-healing cutting mat, but for solid-image clear stamps, I stamp on a special pad made for stamping. It's like a giant, extra-thick mouse pad, purchased at JoAnn's years ago. I've read at SCS about people using sheets of craft foam, which would probably work well and cost less. You just need an even surface that has a bit of give to it.
Finally, the amount of pressure you exert with clear stamps is less than what's required with rubber stamps, especially with sentiments or outlined images. This simply takes practice to get right. Just yesterday, I put too much pressure on a clear sentiment and had to cover it up because the lines came out all blurred. Urgh. Solid clear images can take a lot of pressure, but even they will get blurred around the edges if you push too hard.
I hope this post helps those of you who are struggling with clear stamps or are too afraid to give them a try. Rubber and clear both have definite advantages and disadvantages, and everyone's priorities will vary.
Isn't it great we have so many options these days?