I love to craft, but freely admit that I’m a bit of a ‘crop sprayer’. By that I mean that I don’t just stick to one craft. I make cards, tags, scrapbooks, boxes. I work with polymer clays, making anything from a tiny miniature mushroom, or fairy baby’s little face, right up to a fairy tower for a princess, with turrets and fairy door and .. well everything a Princess Fairy Tower would have! I love to re-cycle or up-cycle by turning unwanted into something brilliant; and …. I paint. When the mood takes I will paint anything which stands still long enough. Not painting as in ‘lets paint these walls a different colour’, but painting on: canvas, wood, paper, card, coffee tables, dining room tables, chipboard, … or anything which doesn’t move when I’ve got a paintbrush in my hand and a need to use it.
But, I actually started out my crafty adult (w-a-a-a-y over the age of 21 plus tax) years ‘potterying’. Not on a potter’s wheel, but the other kind. Hand building. I can’t call it sculpting because (to me) that word kind of presumes that I might be good at it. Now I wasn’t bad, – in fact I made things which sold well at Craft Fairs, etc. But I really don’t deserve the title of Sculptor. I’m no Master Craftsman in any sense or form!
I learnt this incredible craft by going once a week to a genuine real sculptor (a true ‘Master Craftsman’ – coo, the things that this person could turn out were MAGNIFICENT!) where I spent 3 hours each week, being taught how to do ‘stuff’. Once the ‘magic’ of this incredible craft opened up to me I LOVED it. The Sculptor brought out the best in me and showed me ‘how’ to do what I had in my mind to do, and how to get from a doodled drawing into something solid which I could amaze myself at when it was finished. (Half the time I couldn’t believe I’d made *that*!) But I wouldn’t ever have been able to make the things I did had it not been for this incredible Master of the art at Sculpting who shared all the knowledge with me.
And that’s the thing. We all need someone with a little bit of knowledge about something, who we can ask for some general help from when, we want to begin something but aren’t sure exactly what we even need to know which would give us the confidence to do the ‘thing’ – whatever that thing might be.
A fabulous blogger who follows our little blog here, by the name of Mrs. P. made a comment on a post I did on the blog, and in it she said….
“Have you ever done a post on the basics ~ please read that as … OK I want to try making a card / stamping, I’ve bought some stamps, an ink pad & even some die cut thingy’s and then realising I have the skill set of a 4 yr old …had a tantrum, put said goodies away only to retrieve them every now and again to stroke them, sigh deeply ~ repeat from tantrum to deep sighing on a regular basis”
When I read the comment I actually felt her pain, for when I first began stamping I did virtually the same thing. I tried them, the images weren’t the fabulous things I’d hoped for so I put them away. I tried again, and same result… and over a period of time I muddled my way through things and eventually learnt what worked and what didn’t. So .. here I am, a total un-expert, trying to hold Mrs. P’s. hand, and give any help I can to encourage both Mrs. P and anyone else who finds stamping a pain in the you know what. As I said… I’m not an expert .. but here’s what I’ve learnt and what I think might help out.
* I’ll be using both words and photographs as we go through this bit of ‘help’, and in order to do this I’ve had to take a ton of photographs and do some stamping with you at the same time. I’m sorry about there being so many photos. With regard to the stamping .. I’ve tried to, as much as possible, stamp like a regular new stamper. So that any images here will show you that the images you’re stamping are fine, and also how to make good any little mishaps you might have. I hope all this helps.
When you face that blank card in front of you, it’s right at that moment that your nerve goes. Your brain whispers thngs like:-. What if I make a complete ba**s up of this and waste time and a card and what if it all ends up in the bin? I’m sure I can’t do this! Don’t listen to it. You and I are going to prove to your brain that you’re the boss, and this stamping lark isn’t anything like difficult.
- But first .. some rules and guidelines.
- There are no rules.
- So lets get onto the guidelines:-
The better the stamp the crisper the image. I’ve found that red rubber stamps give the most magnificent impression, however I LOVE clear stamps because I can see exactly where I’m placing the stamp. It’s all down to personal preference. And you won’t know which you prefer until you’ve been stamping for a short while. (There are stamps about which look like red rubber stamps but aren’t. We’ll have to talk about that another time)
Ink Pads: I hate to say this because .. well, I’m a canny shopper and watch the pennies, but … from experience … the cheaper the stamp pad you buy, the less ‘lovely’ the image is likely to be. Obviously there are exceptions which prove the rule, but I’m just speaking from personal experience here, and because of that I don’t buy stamp pads from Ebay or anywhere other than recognised stores which sell crafty goodies. (Not necessarily craft stuff only stores. I’ll buy from The Range, which is a fabulous place to shop for craft items (here in the UK) and I also have a selection of more affordable DoCrafts embossing stamp pads which work BRILLIANTLY. But I don’t buy from market stalls or things like that).
CLEANING UP! … You MUST clean your stamps after you’ve used them. As soon as possible after you’ve used them. Personally – I use Huggies Baby Wipes. The reason I use this brand is because they have no Alcohol in them. (Lots of baby wipes do have alcohol, so check the list of ‘ingredients’ if you’re buying them for your stamps, as alcohol spoils the stamps! Why its used in BABY wipes is a total mystery to me … if I’m protecting my crafting stamps from alcohol, then surely we shouldn’t be wiping our babies btm’s and hands/faces with wipes containing it? Yes? No? Is that just me thinking like that?)
Anyhoo ... let’s begin….
1. Begin on a piece of scrap card. Play with your stamps just like a child would play with them. Stamp over and over. Just to remove the fear of the action of stamping and making a mangled mess of inky shapes on a bit of card.
2. Now turn your bit of scrap card over, once you’ve done the first exercise. Then grab your computer mouse mat. (If you haven’t got one of those, please buy one. Just a cheapy one – so long as it’s that squishy rubber or sponge type – rubber like neoprene rubber or sponge like a kind of firm foam sponge with a bit of ‘give’ – and then keep it just for stamping). In the meantime, if you haven’t got a mouse mat, use something like a folded FLAT weave – not the bobbly type – tea towel*. Fold it, make sure there are no creased up bits which will make marks on your ink. Then once folded neatly … put it on your work area, where you’ll be stamping, right in front of you. (*or an old pillowcase would do)
3. Put a plain sheet of A4 on top of it. Just copy paper. Nothing posh or expensive. Use the cheap stuff. This is so you won’t mark your mouse mat/tea towel/pillowcase nor your desk. You DO need that bit of paper. (You can also check out the colour of a stamp pad on it, and .. it will also keep your cardstock clean too).
4. Now place your piece of scrap card on top of that, making sure that it’s positioned firmly over the folded tea towel at the bottom of the pile of paper and card. You’ll find that if you stamp your image over the edge of the mouse mat etc, then you’ll get a really rubbish image with bits missing and the chance of the line of the mouse mat pressing into the cardstock and giving it a ‘bend’.
5. Choose your stamp, if it’s a wooden one then you’re ready to go, if it’s an unmounted stamp then choose a stamp block which is plenty big enough to hold the complete stamp.
6. Choose your ink pad … then tap your STAMP with the Ink pad. Don’t leave the ink pad on the desk and jab the stamp up and down on it. Instead, pick the stamp pad up and hold your stamp in the other hand and tapping the ink pad onto the stamp, move it around so that the ink pad gets tapped all over it, watching as you do it so that you don’t wobble the edges of the stamp or stamping block onto the inky surface. If you do this by accident, then either use your thumb to rub away the excess or use a baby wipe to wipe it away so that it doesn’t end up marking your card. This tapping all over the ink pad is in case there are any ‘cold spots’ on the pad, where perhaps the ink is just a tiny bit less intense. By moving the stamp pad over your stamp, in a tap, tap, tapping motion, you’ll ensure that you have inked all the raised parts of your stamp equally. Oh .. and don’t ‘drag’ your pad over your stamp, because you’ll end up with a build up of ink in places and it will transfer to your card, making an uneven colouring.
7. Carefully place your stamp down on your cardstock and press down, firmly but not hard. You aren’t trying to push it through the desk top! But you do want to ensure that all the raised parts of the stamp are in contact with the card. DON’T ROCK YOUR STAMP! If you do then you’ll likely get a ghost effect of parts of the stamp. If you’ve done that then don’t fret. It happens to everyone. Just stamp it again. At the moment we’re only playing anyway!
8. Now .. take another, different bit of card and place it on the desk top, but not on the pad of tea towel and A4 paper. Tap the same stamp you’ve just used, with the same ink pad, and then using the same firm press, press that same stamp onto that piece of card. Check out the difference between the two images. Which one looks best to you?
Some stamps will work and give you the exact same image every time. However most of the others won’t. Most images which a stamper produces are much improved by the use of a mouse mat, or the folded tea towel/pillowcase. There’s something in that bit of ‘give’ which just makes the impression so much sharper, neater, better. But … if your stamp works without it then that’s great.
Each stamp may need a different method, so the best thing to do is stamp your stamp on some scrap card or pape before you begin your actual project, so that you can give it a test first.
Now .. choose your favourite image which you’ve stamped and let’s colour it in. . .
How do you like to colour things in? Is your craft room complete with specialist pens, crayons etc which you paid a price for? Do you get along with those things? Do you get great results? If so, then use those. Use the method which you love the most.
Not everyone is a colourist (the name for someone who colours their images with specialist colouring pens/pencils). For those who either don’t like the results they get with pens, or would just like to try something a little different, or if you don’t have special colouring pens … then here’s something you can do which won’t cost the earth. All your need is a few paint brushes which are suitable for water-colours and your stamp pads.
Choose a colour from your ink pads which you’d like to ‘paint’ your image. Stamp that stamp pad onto your glass cutting mat. (If you don’t have one of those … do you have a glass cutting board in your kitchen? Could you ‘borrow’ it, just to use one corner of it, just for this teach in? If not – do you have a little plastic palette, the type used by painters? Or.. do you have one of those foam plates which you used to see as picnic plates? One of those would work fine too. Last suggestion … a spare odd saucer or plate – but wash it thoroughly before any food use. You’re using dye inks here – so if you have an odd saucer which you don’t use then that would be best.)
You need a little pot, or a saucer for some water. You don’t need much water – just about a tablespoonful – so you don’t need a huge, great thumping dish!
As you see in the photo above, I’ve stamped a Danube Blue Memento ink pad onto my glass mat. I dipped my brush into the little bit of water in the pot, then dragged most of the water off the brush, and only then did I tap my brush onto the glass mat next to the inky blob.
Use your brush to mix a tiny part of the inky blob and pick up some ink, and take it straight to your image. (don’t hang around as the brush will dry pretty quickly). Use a brush size which is appropriate to what your ‘painting’. If you have a tiny flower then obviously don’t use a one inch brush!. lol.
Use as many colours or as few, as you like. Colour your image in any way you want. If you’re finding that you can’t paint in a neat way .. then paint in a ‘Contemporary Art’ way. Blob, stripe, stroke, dabble or anything you like which works for you. Remember, we’re only playing so anything goes!
Once you’ve done that… colour one of your other images which you’ve stamped .. only this time in different colours. Pens/Crayons/Inks/Paints … anything you choose – just use different colours.
Ok ... let’s use some words now ….
Of course … You don’t have to colour your image in at all. You can leave it exactly as it is, and it can look rather swish and very classic. . .
Ok .. we’ve done that stamp. Let’s try a different one, and this time a different colour of stamp pad.
Lots of people only stamp in black ink. I’m not sure if that’s because they love the black ink so don’t want to try any other colour, … or if maybe they just haven’t thought about another colour … or if perhaps they have no idea about what colour to use so use black for safety. Different colours can give you different results. Even stamp pads from the same company. It’s not that the ink isn’t the same, it’s the colour which is different. Each colour will do things for you which another colour might not do.
Let’s try … grey….
But .. what would it look like in another colour?
You can see how the exact same image gives a totally different ‘feel’ about it, simply by the choice of ink colour. If you want to stamp an image but are not sure of which stamp pad to use, then test stamp it first. Do a comparison like the one above of the rabbits. If you stamp them near to each other (but give a little space so that they have their own space to ‘be’) you’ll make choosing so much easier for yourself.
I think out of those images I rather like the Rich Cocoa colour in the middle. Let’s try that colour on another image …
Ok … so far we’ve only used an unmounted stamp here. Let’s try something different. Let’s go to a wooden mounted stamp, but let’s make it a difficult size. This next stamp is so big that I have difficult holding it in one hand.
Large, detailed stamps such as the falling fairy one above, can be a tricky to decide on what colour to stamp it in sometimes. You can just use one solid colour stamp pad and stamp it out like the church I stamped (above), then you can colour the image afterwards in various ways. Or .. you can play around with your stamp pad colours and stamp the stamp in an assortment of carefully placed colours so that you have some colours there already … like this …
This multi colour stamping is a great trick. But … you have to be quick – unless you’re using embossing ink pads – those dry slowly so will allow you the extra time you require to stamp the inks onto the stamp.
But .. if using Dye Inks… they dry quickly, so you need to be quick applying the inks onto the stamp. BUT … here’s the trick… If you feel you might have taken just a few seconds too long:- Hold your stamp up to your mouth, open your mouth as if you were yawning a big yawn, but take a breath in and HUUUFFFFFF a long huff on your stamp.
Imagine you were trying to blow a candle out with your mouth wide open, or if you had some fingerprint marks on your glasses (spectacles) and you wanted to get them off using a tissue … you’d HUFF on the lens and then wipe it with the tissue). HUFF! You might want to huff a couple of times if the stamp is huge. But again … try it out on scrap card first. Then you’ll know what to do to make it work for you and your stamp.
Ok … Let’s move forward onto something more kind of grown up, but still a ton of fun.
But … I’ve kept you here for quite long enough for one day. How about we do the second part of this ‘helper’ tomorrow, so that your b.t.m.’s don’t loose all feeling and you don’t get DVT from sitting there reading this. 🙂
Well it’s Monday again, and yet again, someone has stolen three days from last week. I’d like to know who’s doing that, and if I catch the little divil, I’ll string him up by his ears!
All that’s left for me to say is … I hope your Monday is wonderful. Be it peace filled or full 0f excitement. Just … whatever you’re doing today … at some point stop and realise that right at that moment you’re making a memory. All you have to do is commit it to memory, memorise it, and then perhaps share that memory with someone later in the day. Share it with me if you like. I’d love to hear about it!
Sending oodles of l ❤ve your way. Have a good one my friends ~