Thursday, February 28, 2008

Unmounted Rubber Tutorial

Just a warning. This will be a long post. There isn't any artwork at the end as a payoff, either! I took these pictures when I cut the rubber for yesterday's post : ) You might want to refill your coffee cup before you sit down to read this...

I have been asked more times than I can count how I use unmounted rubber stamps. While there are many ways to use them, I have found a system that works for me that I am comfortable with. I am sharing my method here...if you have been hesitating about taking the plunge into the wonderful world of unmounted rubber, this tutorial is meant to help you get your feet wet!

This is a brief synopsis of what I do: I use unmounted rubber on acrylic blocks using glue sticks and store them in labeled CD cases. My "long version" is it are the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way...

First, you will need the following supplies:
  • Empty, regular-sized CD cases (not slim-line, not double): I buy mine in Staples, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Target, etc. I like Staples the best because they sell the biggest pack (25), and since I am constantly adding more stamps to my stash, more is definitely better.

  • Good Rubber Cutting Scissors: I use Kai scissors. I think they cut rubber better than any other I own. I am also particular about this -- my Kai scissors ONLY cut rubber. God forbid one of my children pick them up for ANY reason!

  • Unmounted Stamps

  • Glue Stick: Any kind will do.

  • Acrylic Blocks: This is an investment that you make ONCE. I own a bunch of these in various sizes; My suggestion is to get 4 to start: a big one for background stamps; a medium/large one (3-12" square is a nice size) for medium images; a little one (think 2" square) and a long thin one for alphabets. You can always add to your collection as you think you need them, based on the images you are stamping.

  • Stamp Cleaner or Water & a Scrubbie or Paper Towel: This method has unbelievably good and easy clean-up. Good for those of us who hate to clean anything!

  • Label Maker or Regular Labels: Easier to keep track of what you have if you label it, right?
To start, remove the black CD Tray insert from the CD case. Just kind of wiggle it out to remove it. I haven't found a use for these, so I throw them out. If anyone has any ideas on what to do with them, let me know! I hate to waste things.

Use the rubber cutting scissors to cut out the images carefully. Do not "undercut" the images; a little around the edges stabilizes them and will not leave a shadow of ink when you stamp. Be conservative -- you can ALWAYS cut more off if need be.

Place the cut images into the CD case. The example here fits perfectly, but many times there are too many stamps in a sheet to fit neatly in one layer in a case. Guess what? You can stack images two-high! MOST rubber stamps are thin enough to do this. I only have one company's stamps that are too thick, so I make multiple cases for these stamps. If you have too many stamps to fit double-stacked in the CD case, simply use a second case and split the stamps up so that they have room to play in their cases : )

If the stamps came with one, cut the Index Print to a size that fits into the top of the CD case. If you are double stacking the stamps, the index print will be too large, too, so simply cut it in two and put one on the top and one on the bottom. This step important -- you will be more likely to use the stamps because you can see the images in Black and White.

It the stamps did not come with an index print, you have a few choices: You can print the set image off of the stamp company's website (I do this ALOT), or you can stamp an index print yourself!

Here is the shamefully easy part.

To stamp, simply apply glue to the back of the rubber stamp with the glue stick and adhere to the acrylic block. Don't be afraid! The glue will come off both pieces, I promise : )

Before stamping, condition the stamp. Directions for doing that are HERE in case you missed that post.

Here is the best part!!! Just ink the stamp and stamp image where you want it. This is one major advantage over wood -- you can see exactly where you are stamping. For large images, use a mouse pad under the paper so that you can press evenly with a bit more cushioning.
If you are a scrapbooker, you will LOVE using unmounted Alphabet stamps. You can line up several letters at once and actually see where they are going. Just remember to line up the letters backwards -- start the first letter on the right side of the block, then the next letter on it's left, etc. I also like to stamp the word on scrap paper first to check placement of the letters (I invariably put the b,d,p's backwards). The beauty of using a glue stick is that you can move the letters a nudge if need be to adjust spacing and alignment. Once you use unmounted alphabets, you will have a hard time going back to the wooden ones!

Now for the fun part. To clean the image side of the stamp, simply spritz with stamp cleaner and rub over your scrubber (or do whatever you normally do). To remove the rubber from the acrylic block, simply peel the rubber off, spray both the rubber and the acrylic with stamp cleaner OR water, and wipe off with a paper towel.

That's it! Sparking clear acrylic again, and stamps that look like new!

Okay, time to label and store the stamps....

I have a little p-touch labeler but you can use any type of label. I simply label the edge of my CD case with the company name and the name of the stamp set (either the set's official name, or something that works for me). I store my CDs on these nifty plastic CD spinners (I paid $15.00 for each of them). Each spinner holds 120 CD cases. I have 6 of them -- and they are FULLLLLL. I am currently looking for these online and in stores, but I am having a hard time, but if I DO find them again, I will let you all know where : )

Okay, that's about it...I hope I have helped someone! If you have questions, leave me a comment about it (you can comment if this was helpful to you, too, that is always nice to know) and I will answer your questions when I can.


Debby said...

Hi Pat, I do have a question on this. What happens if the stamp already has the padding and the adhesive on it? I got some given to me by a friend and not sure how to mount them. I want to use them on the clear blocks. Will they stick to well and not come off when I put them on the clear block?
Thanks for the help.
Angel Hugs

Anonymous said...

Thank you sooooo much for the instructions on this!!!! I have wondered how people are using the cd cases and this helps alot! I have been putting them in binders, but alas the binders are getting heavier, at which point I use another binder, so my binders are getting out of control. I think I will look for wall mounted cd holders for this. Again, thanks!!

Orion Designs said...

Hey Pat,
I didn't realize that you didn't need the vinyl cling stuff for cushioning! What a revelation. Well, I guess I'll use your technique with any new unmounteds I purchase. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your tips. I sure like this better than the halo system I started years ago, or using the very sticky ez mount. Darlene

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Pat! Between this and your conditioning tut, I've learned tons! I've been using unmounteds for a while (they were among the first I bought). I knew I didn't want to deal with the the stuff you put on each stamp (can't remember the name) so went with Tack N Peel on my acrylic block. I really like that, but it is getting dirty where it touches the pad. Sure wish I'd known that I could just use a glue stick! That's what I'll be doing instead of replacing the TnP!

Cyndi - Dreams Unltd

Anonymous said...

Oops! Another comment, since I forgot to ask a question....

Do you use anything in the CD case to keep the stamps from moving around? I have my UMs in CD cases already, but they are loose and if they are not "packed" in they move all over. I was told to use double face tape to keep them in place so they sort of match up with the index on the front....

Cyndi - Dreams Unltd

rozie640 said...

WOW, thanks for taking the time to post all this info. You certainly are on top of this!!! Very clear instructions and great photos.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you posted this info. I just bought some of these stamps, by mistake, and was wondering what I was going to do. This will be so great! I can't wait to play now. Thanks again.

Sherry Pemberton

SixftPixy/Coleen Browning said...

I can't thank you enough, Pat!
The tutorials on everything you share are excellent, and so very helpful! I couldn't believe the difference in my stamps when I conditioned them! Thank you!
Being a new stamper, I was afraid to try unmounted stamps. The designs were too tempting, so of course, I bought some! Thank you for helping me understand the nature of them so much better! How fortunate all of us TJ's are to have you in our lives! I'm thankful every day!

cropmom66 said...

Hi Pat!
Wonderful tutorial! I have been toying with unmounting some of my stamps. I may give this a try now. I also have a lot of acrylic stamps that I just keep in a drawer, and are not very organized. This would work great!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Pat, you are the best teacher! My confidence just increased by leaps and bounds after reading this tutorial. I can hardly wait to try my um stamps now!

Thanks again Pat!

cathy said...

Hi Pat,
This was very interesting. I already use unmounted, but I'm always curious about how other people mount and store them. Thanks, Cathy.

Anonymous said...

Pat, Great instructions. I've been stamping 15 years and never heard of conditioning stamps. Thanks for the info.

Kari said...

So helpful, thank you so much. I've always wondered about unmounted rubber stamps...

Anonymous said...

HI Pat;
thanks for posting your method. I do a lot of what you do but I use a bookcase type holder for my CD's I got at Menards. It holds lots and I have all the titles facing me. I have them categorized by broad divisions (alphabet, sayings, flowers, collage, background, etc) and plan to label the shelf of each category. Like the glue stick idea. I was planning to go with the tack and peel sheet on my blocks with the unmounted rubber I am creating from my mounted stamps. thanks again. Jo

Tejal said...

Thank you so much for this great idea. I never thought of using glue stick. I used non permanent tape and it left a mess everywhere..
do you need to use a rubber mat underneath the paper? the one you're stamping on?


Terri said...

I never thought of using a glue stick to attach the unmounted stamps to the acrylic blocks. What a great idea.TFS. Could you leave the glue on the stamp so it stays put in the CD case?

dasimonds said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been thinking of doing this and this information really helps! You have answered so many of my questions. Thanks sgain for sharing this wonderful
I would love to see the answers to some of these questions posted here too.
Can't wait to try this!!

Unknown said...

This is great! I was wondering what to do with my growing number of unmounteds! I still prefer the artistic nature of rubber on wood, but there are so many new possibilities with unmounted stamps and acrylic blocks. I have been collected since 1978 when I discovered All Night Media!

Hugs, KJ

otagogirl said...

Hi Pat,
Thanks so much for posting this! I have been tempted to get some unmounteds, and actually have a few that I have been given. I was just inking and pressing, which didn't give the greatest results!
This sounds much better.
I's also like to know about unmounteds that have "padding" on them- like a fuzzy thin black liner. I also have unmounteds that are like SU stamps before they go on the block- with padding and adhesive. Would I have to permanently mount these?
Thanks again, this tutorial makes things much clearer!

Unknown said...

All my stamps are unmounted and in CD cases. My preferred method is the ez mount cling. But, if I was not going to use ez mount I would use the repositionable glue and then they would also stay in the CD cases without moving. Here is a good source for CD spinners:

cadye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cadye said...

Pat -

I too have gone the unmounted route. Oh the space it saves. I used to put all my stamps in CD boxes as well, but I have so many stamps now that I am running out of room for that (I never get rid of a stamp set!). So I have taken to putting them on hard plastic sheets and keeping them in 3-ring binders. I find that I can keep 4 or 5 sets on one sheet.

I have always used EZ-mount to mount my rubber stamps, but your way sounds a lot better. I can't wait to hear your answer on what do you do with rubber stamps that already have the foam mounting with stick stuff?


Tifany said...

Never fear! The find anything you want on the internet girl is here!

I believe the CD spinner you are looking for is made by Fellowes. I found it for holds 112 CDs. Here is the link:

E-mail me and I'll let you know where to send my finders fee...haha. Kidding. I hope this is what you were looking for!

Tammy Q Howell said...

I have recently been investigating the possibility of changing my wood mounted stamps to acrylic blocks. I am so happy to see this tutorial. I will try your method and see if I like it. I was considering EZ mount, but the expense and trouble of cutting them out was keeping me from trying the unmounteds. Thanks so much the tutorial. One thing I have been doing with my new SU stamps is to leave the slick paper on and not mount them. Then I cut a center piece of the slick paper completely off and put it back on when not using. I set aside the center slick piece and then use double sided tape to attach the stamp to the acrylic block. I put the tape over the sticky foam part and attach that to the block. It stays put and I don't need a mat to get a good impression. The problem is I can't store them in CD cases. I may have to try your way!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tutorial. I am going to put little dots (like the kind you use for a yard sale, but smaller) on the outside of my cds. Each color will represent a catagory. It might be quicker for me to find what I am looking for.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff.Nice informative post!! U have done nice job...Thanks for sharing..
Keep up the work.

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