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 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?


  1. Another gorgeous card. I love it!

  2. Love that card! Thanks for all of the tips and for enabling me - now I think I need that stamp set! Maybe I better check and see what similar images I already have first - but that probably won't stop me anyway.

  3. Susan,
    LOVE the purple and green and you know I LOVE bling!!!

  4. I love your cards! I also appreciate all the tips you tell us especially between SU and PTI.

  5. You're teasing me with your beautiful leaves again, Susan. ;) So beautiful with the bits of bling!! Great tips too!!

  6. Oh this is sooooooo lovely ... who could not feel better recieving this beauty!!
    PTI do produce some amazing images .... I have been good ;) soooooo maybe Santa will bring me some this year!!!!!!
    I have a mixture of clear & rubber stamps and have been lucky enough not to encounter problems - I use all types of ink and card. For me the clear has the slight advantage because I can see where I'm putting the ink!!

  7. gorgeous...great tutorial about clear stamps. I agree...I resisted buying the clear but there were so many wonderful images and sayings that I just had to try them. I have also found that you really need to condition some of the clear before the first time you use them so they can grip the ink. I read you should gently! rub over the top with an emery board to remove the factory residue.

  8. i also love the papertrey stamps. and want that leaf set!! i never heard emery board, but i use an art eraser and rub it over the clear stamps to get residue off. i agree with the pressure, too. i heard su is coming out with unmounted stamps that you can put on an acrylic even more choices are going to be out there! i love su stamps and love the image with red rubber...but hate the bulk of wood blocks and not seeing where they will appear on the page. all these choices...i will have to try them ALL!! (purely for scientific purposes, you understand.) :) shannon

  9. Lovely card. Thanks so much for the tips to clear stamp stamping.

  10. Perrrfect card! You keep that set taunting me. Mine has been here a week but I can't ink it until my self-imposed chore-list is finished.

    For me, clear stamps joined my collection only after I got my first PTI set and marveled at the storage solution that came with them. AWESOME!
    Many thanks for the stamping tips. I had always heard I needed to stamp on a hard surface. Maybe the softer surface will solve my problems. Too often the stamped image is uneven, but you saved me by recommending Micron pens for repairs.

  11. Thank you for sharing yet another beautiful card!

    Yes, it is great to have so many options, but what's even better is having intelligent folks like you checking out all the options and sharing your excellent analysis of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  12. The purple bling is just perfect with that pretty soft green! I've found that the benefits of storage and being able to see where I am stamping have outweighed my prejudices toward clear stamps. Thanks for all your info regarding inks for them. Another tip - sometimes just cleaning off a clear stamp with an eraser can help it to ink more smoothly. PTI paper is the best!! Nice heavy cardstock makes such a difference - esp. on a C&S card!!

  13. your card here is perfection!! I'm still jealous!! :-) and great tips on the use of clear stamps!!


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