Stamping 101: Getting Started.

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: I love stamping. There is something magical about making a stamped image. It is a craft that ANYONE can do. (Without much effort, I might add.) If you want to get started on the craft there are three things you need: stamps, ink and paper. Let's talk about them.

STAMPS: the star of the show
Acrylic? Wood? Unmounted Rubber? It can be confusing and hard to choose. I know. It wasn't that long ago that I started stamping myself. There is no right or wrong answer, and I don't like to play favorites, so I have a little of everything.

Rubber stamps (wood or unmounted) seem to cling to ink best. The image comes out crisp and the color intense. However, placement is an issue. You can't see what you are doing. (This can be solved by using the stamp-a-ma-jig, a stamp positioner, but that takes more time and effort than I am normally willing to use.) I love the surprise of a perfectly stamped image when pulling the wood block away.

Acrylic stamps are clear, so you can see where you are stamping. Genius! However, clear stamps seem to resist dye or water-based inks. To solve this, I use solvant, pigment or embossing ink. Another great thing about acrylic stamps is the storage. They take up virtually no room! I store mine in jewel cd cases.

My thoughts on stamp type: buy the stamp images you like. Don't worry whether it is wood or acrylic. Both have positives and negatives; both will make great cards/crafts.

Starting-out Stamps: There are a few of stamp sets that I consider essentials and I would highly recommend buying when you are starting out. (Remember that you don't need to have ALL of these before you begin. I started out with one lonely wood-mounted stamp and one little green stamp pad.)

Backgroud Stamps: I adore making my own patterned paper with a background stamp. I really love Papertrey Ink's Polka Dot Basics and A Little Argyle, Stampin' Up's Medallion, Wplus9's Woodgrain and brand new Hearts stamp sets.
Sentiment Stamps: Because I am a card maker, sentiments are a must. I love All Occasion Messages by Hero Arts, Signature Greetings by Papertrey Ink and Short & Sweet by Stampin' Up.
Flower/Nature Stamps: Wplus9's Woodgrain Silhouettes Bundle is a fabulous all-around nature set. It is both masculine and femine. Very versatile. If I could only own one stamp set, this might be it.
Birthday Stamps: I adore Lawn Fawn's bake me a cake set! So cute. Just ordered it yesterday.
Baby Stamps: Papertrey Ink's Baby Button Bits is my favorite baby set I own. Such a clever idea! I also love Wplus9's Kisses and Cuddles set, but I don't own that one yet.
*I am still on the lookout for a good wedding set & a sympathy set. Let me know if you have a suggestion.

I must make a disclaimer before talking about ink pads: am not an expert. I am still trying to find my favorite brand.
Dye-based ink: Good on all paper, but fades over time. Not waterproof. I like Stampin' Up!'s dye ink a lot, especially with rubber stamps.
Chalk ink: Fabulous rich, matte finish. Stains clear stamps. I like ColorBox Fluid Chalk ink.
Pigment ink: Vibrant colors. Can be used on mediums other than paper, like fabric. Stampin' Up!'s craft line of inks are awesome.
Solvent ink: StazOn is so fun! You can use them on metal, plastic, acrylic, foil, leather and some even some glass surfaces.

*I use Memento ink when I color with my Copic Markers because it won't bleed. However, I don't feel like it is a very dark black. I am still looking for an alternative.

There are so many brands of paper out there, so I am not going to really get too into this. However, I do want to tell you my favorites. When coloring with copics, I prefer to use Neenah Solar White paper. I buy a huge ream at Xpedx for a great price. I also use Neenah's kraft cardstock. For colored cardstock, I like both Stampin' Up and Papertrey ink. They both have matching products, so it is fun to buy the inks, accessories and paper that go together. Papertrey ink's cardstock is really thick, so if you use a Silhouette or Cricuit cutter, it doesn't work as well. It does make a fabulously sturdy card, though.

Good luck with your new hobby! Comment or email me if you ave any questions.


  1. I really like "Thoughts & Prayers" by Stampin' Up! for my go-to Sympathy Set. I like the sentiments a lot and the images are gender neutral.
    Stampin' Up! Thoughts & Prayers Set

  2. I'm not into stamping, however, I just have to say how thorough and detailed this information is. Great job Hannah!

    p.s. I just looked at the column on the right in your blog and realize now that you're related to Sarah at Redhead Recipes. Her blog is great. I've tried a few of her recipes.

    Have a lovely weekend!

  3. Storing your clear stamps in jewel CD cases? Simply Brilliant! What a great post. I was pretty much inevitable that I would get sucked in to stamping sooner or later.

  4. great post! i don't have any copics but i found out that i love versafine in black ink! works really well! its about $10 @ michaels but i used a 40% off coupon ;) love PTI, HA, and SU!

  5. I inherited a ton of stamps and inks and chalks from an aunt and had no idea where to start so I took a free beginning stamping class at Archiver's and it was so helpful! I would totally recommend it to anyone starting out!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Great post! I too store my stamps in the CD case although the "thicker" ones are getting harder to find. One of these days I have plans to unmount my wood block stamps and put them all in cd cases it's real easy to do...just takes time. That will reduce storage space greatly.

    I agree Thoughts and Prayers is a great sympathy set from Stampin Up another set is from PTI called With Sympathy.

  8. I am so jealous of your huge stamp collection =)
    Great post by the way.

  9. Thanks for the good hints here. Did you know that Stampin' Up! now offers rubber stamps that are clear mount? They stamp like the wood mount but you can see where you are stamping. They are available in the wood mount too for those who like to live dangerously.

  10. I did know that, Bonnie! I am going to order some as soon as I see the new catalog. I love Hero Art's cling stamps, so I am sure I'll love Stampin' Ups!

  11. I love you post! Thanks so much for the shout out! :)

  12. I ONLY use clear stamps...because like you said: I need to see where I'm goin' - LOL
    And I've only used Papertrey Ink ink since I got in to cardmaking...but they have reformulated their's really not good. So I just now ordered my very first ColorBox inks to see if that's going to be what I move to in the way of ink.
    I've heard of this Neenah paper...then heard you can get it at Wal*Mart? - so I assumed it was quality too. It's that good, eh? Might have to check it out sometime.

  13. Hi, Miss Hannah –
    The new pigment inks…no, not good…not good at all. You can even tell on the design team samples when they use them – they do not leave a good impression. And, this is in addition to the color being pretty off. I sort of was OK with the color being off – it was close enough….but it sure wasn’t perfect like their original dye inks. For me it really is the quality – or lack there of – of the ink pad…it’s just a mess.
    The good ones to get are the originals: dark chocolate, enchanted evening, raspberry fizz, scarlet jewel, ripe avocado, plum pudding, pure poppy; get ‘em before they switch ‘em! They switched to pigment because the light colors in the regular dye inks were too light. Don’t get any of those – they are too light – LOL Oh – new leaf is the old formula which is good, but the color is way off….like way….off…pretty color though. If it’s from PTI and it says pigment – run….far away…and fast – ha! But if it doesn’t, and it’s not light, it’s fab. True Black is goodness too…but if you color I think you can’t use that kind…but for sentiments, it’s really great.

  14. This was fun to read. I like hearing others' preferences. I agree with Nancy - try VersaFine Onyx Black. It's simply the best. It's kind of a hybrid ink - a pigment in that it sits on top of the paper and gives a beautiful crisp image, BUT it won't bleed when you use Copics or anything else watery on it! (At least not when it's on paper.. doesn't dry on glossy).
    I've had my clear stamps in CD cases for years and am just now switching over to some binder size pages I got, as I was finding the cases too small for some stamps. I love the full page method, as I can see so many more all at once, and quicker too!

  15. I was so glad to read Michelle's comments because I have had horrible experience with the new colors as well. I contacted them about this and I can't say I got a good CS response. My friend got the same response when she contacted them and also brought the issue of the Perfect Match asking if maybe she got a bad dye lot.

    My Lemon Tart I just bought doesn't even show up at all, and when I contacted them I have to pay to send it back to have it re-inked.

    I am glad to read it's not just myself to have experienced this. I have spent a lot of $ and I agree, they are messy and do not stamp well at all. It's very disappointing. I love their stamps, but not happy with their new formula of inks or the way their response to their customers concerns.

  16. Well, they were listening at PTI. They are making changes to their ink. It is upsetting to those of us who invested a lot of $ in the inks, but this is what was put on the PTI blog last night. I just wish I had read this before purchasing mine. Thanks Michelle for posting your comments because you might have saved someone else.

    From Nicole at PTI:

    There has been much discussion in the past as to the quality control issues we have had in regards to our ink. There have been various issues, different with each customer. In the end we were left with a product that was not meeting our expectations and dedication to quality 100%, all the time. Our current manufacturer has not been able to improve the formula into something that we can unequivocally have confidence in, so after some difficult decision making, we have decided to discontinue the entire current line of Papertrey's exclusive inks, with just a few exceptions.

    Fresh Snow
    Vintage Cream
    Tea Dye Duo
    Other than these three colors, the rest of the Papertrey ink collection will be discontinued.

    This decision was very difficult to come by. This is a big change that effects everyone. But after much deliberation, we have decided that it is best for everyone if we start with a new slate, a new manufacturer and a new product that we can all be confident in. We don't want to continue to sell you a product that we have seen as unstable in the past. With some people attaining fabulous results and others not. And we certainly don't want you to invest in anything in the future that's the same way. This is just one of the reasons why we feel it is finally time for a change.

    We have found a new manufacturer that has given us new hope, has renewed our confidence. And let me tell you, there are big things underway for our ink. A fresh start in a big way. We found someone that looks at ink in a fresh new way, giving us the opportunity to bring you something bigger and better than ever.

    What does this mean for me, the customer?

    The decision to discontinue the current line of ink was difficult, but necessary. It was a decision we just reached recently, so unfortunately we were not able to prepare you for this change with as much notice as we would have liked. On that note, we will not be gaining any additional inventory for any of the inks or refills that are currently out of stock. We don't see it as a wise decision to invest more into a product that is unstable as these inks have proven to be. And we definitely don't want to provide you with a product that might possibly not meet your expectations.

    What if I still want a ink pad or refill in your current formula?

    As of tonight, June 14th, at midnight EST, what we have left of available stock in the current inks and refills will be all that's available until it's gone. Any ink purchased after this time tonight will NOT be able to be refunded or exchanged. This disclaimer will be placed at the top of the ink page as a reminder as well.

    When can we expect to see the new formula?

    The new ink is currently in the process of being thoroughly developed and tested. We are currently anticipating a possible October 15th release. This is a tentative date and we will definitely keep you updated as the time nears closer. We have not yet established how many of the inks we will be able to release per month, but we will try to have them all become available as soon as possible.

    If you have any additional questions regarding this change, please be sure to stop by the Ask the Papertrey Team forum or email Customer service and we will be more than happy to address your concerns.

  17. I'm so intrigued by the cards you make Hannah and I'm wondering if this might be my next crafting venture ... I'm so new to the whole cardmaking craft that I guess my first question is whether the first step in cardmaking is to become a "stamper" ... is there a "become a cardmaker" tutorial or book you (or your readers) can recommend that might take me from start to finish with making some cards (including a supply list)?

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your faves! I think Verve has the best sympathy set (Forever in our Hearts - I'm still looking for a great wedding set myself. :)

  19. Nice blog. I like your post about stamping and the beauty of it. I've done a lot of printmaking projects as well. I especially love cutting out letters and stamping t-shirts and baby clothes. Keep up the good work!


Thank you for reading! I love hearing what you have to say and appreciate your comments.