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 below...in 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?
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.
Okay, time to label and store the stamps....