This is essentially the FAQ posting that Charley (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote for the newsgroup rec.crafts.rubberstamps.
I've put in a lot of HTML to help you get to the subject you want. At the end of most sections, look for a little (top) to click back to the table of contents.
Revised Feb 27 99 -- Dean B
Here it comes................
This FAQ is Copyright (c)1994-99, Charles Bandes, and may not
be republished or cross-posted without my permission.
1: What techniques are available for stamping?
1.4 Reversing an image
1.5 Fabric Stamping
2: What resources are available?
2.2 National Stampagraphic
2.3 Eraser Carvers' Quarterly
2.4 Vamp Stamp News
2.5 The Rubber Stamper
2.6 Online Services
2.6 This FAQ
2.7 Mailing list
3: How can I make my own stamps?
3.1 Buying unmounted dies
3.2 Paying to have a sheet of custom dies made
3.3 Carving your own stamps from erasers
4.1 Dye-based inks
4.2 Pigment Inks
4.3 Cleaning Stamps
5: Shameless Plugs
5.1 Zum Gali Gali
Ok - here's the meat of the FAQ - ready or not, here it comes...
Chapter 1 - Stamping techniques (Basics)
Often when you're looking at mail-art, you may notice that
the stamped images often overlap (scenes inside a TV-set, giant mouths
consuming cities...) You may well wonder 'how'd they do that?', the
answer is masking - which is really the same thing as stencilling or
frisketing, depending on your vocabulary.
A simple masking experiment - choose two stamps, then choose
one to go 'in front' of the other. Stamp this one onto a piece of scrap
paper (a fairly heavy paper works best). Carefully trim that print,
cutting the edges as close as you can. Then stamp that image again
onto your good paper. Cover it with the cut-out you just made.
Then stamp your second image, part on the cut-out, part on the blank
paper surrounding your image. When you remove the cutout mask,you will
have an overlapping image, the second stamp will be cropped right at the
egde of your first print.
This same basic technique can be used to create unique and
exciting effects - make a mask of a horizon, and stamp your favorite
patterns to make the ground-plane, mask negative-space simple shapes...(top)
Embossing powders give very professional looking results, and
are very easy to use, if you're careful. Used properly, these powders
will give your stamped images that look gof an embossed invitation.
Here's all you have to do...
Print your images, a pigment-based pad works best for embossing
(like those from Clearsnap or Imprintz...) While the ink is wet,
sprinkle the powder onto the stamping, and shake it off (like
kindergarteners do with glitter and glue) Then heat the powder to make
it set. The best heat source, IMHO, is a heat gun - these can be
obtained for about $30 at most craft or hardware stores, and also at
many stamp stores... If you don't have a heat gun, you can heat the
powder in a toaster-oven, holding a hot iron over it (DO NOT IRON IT
DIRECTLY!), holding it near a HOT light bulb...(top)
Stampers often forget that they can build many layers in an
image. By stamping repeatedly on top of other stamped images, you can
build a wonderfully rich surface. Experiment with printing softly
colored background layers before you begin to add foreground elements.
1.4 Reversing a stamped image
To reverse an image, print the stamp with a heavy wet ink onto
a nonporous surface (a rubber eraser works particularly well), then
stamp that print onto your paper. The ink won't take to the eraser, so
it will transfer pretty well onto your paper. (top)
1.5 Fabric Stamping
If you stamp with a regular stamp pad onto clothing, the images
will wash out. That's great for messy stampers, but not great for
those who want to use stamps to decorate clothing.
There's two schools of fabric stamping right now, though others
will surely emerge. #1 Use regular *pigment* pads, and then emboss.
#2 print with deka fabric paints instead of traditional inks.
Neither system is perfect.
[Before you delve into either of the below, check out
the "More on Fabric Stamping" section below.]
#1 - Pros: You probably already have the ink-pads, pigment pads allow
for printing with very detailed stamps, clean-up is easy and
Cons: Embossing powder makes fabric feel 'crunchy', emobssing
fabric without a heat gun is a nightmare, colors aren't
quite as rich as fabric paints.
#2 - Pros: Colors are very rich, no special treatment is needed to set
the colors (tho it's smart to iron them...), Don't need to
hassle with powders, Colors merge with the fabric for a more
Cons: You'll need to invest in many expensive colors and blank
stamp-pads, harder to get the multi-color effect you'd get
with a pigment pad, colors set easily, clean-up can be
tricky, colors are very thick, they only really work well
with big and bold designs, don't even try your line-art
stamps with this, it could clog them.
IMHO, If you are seriously into the fabric stamping thing, #2 is
the way to go, even though there's some headaches with it - the fabric
will have a much nicer printed feel. If you just want the occasional
stamped shirt or tie, #1 is the better route, it's easier, faster, and
less expensive. (top)
There's been a little confusion about what I mean by these processes,
so I'll go into greater depth now.
- Pigment ink pads
- Clear Embossing Powder
Ink stamps, and print. But, instead of doing the whole shirt at once,
do smaller areas at a time. When you finish an area, sprinkle with
embossing powder, and heat. (A heat gun is really fairly necessary
for this, since you want to aim the heat...) Repeat this
process until the design is finished.
DO NOT use other kinds of powder, because it tends to clump a little
bit in unstamped regions, clear doesn't show up, but if you were
using colorful powder, it would look very spotty.
- Deka Fabric Paint
- Blank Stamp Pads (1 per color)
- Fabric (we'll say a T-Shirt)
- Stamps (of course! - big, bold designs...)
First, load up the pad with paint. For the sake of argument, let's
say we're using a foam pad, tho i think felt would be fine.
Ink your stamps, and print onto the fabric. The paint will stay
wet for a while, so be careful completing your design.
When your whole shirt is done, and the ink seems dry. Iron the shirt
to heat-set the paint. This is a very important step!
Hand-Carved stamps are great for this technique.
#3 - I've recently discovered alcohol-based fabric-ink
'dabbers.' They seem to be the
best of both worlds, but I don't yet have sufficient
information to go into depth about
them... Suffice it to say they seem pretty nifty, and are
worth a try.
1.5.5 More on Fabric Stamping
I've recently discovered more about the Deka paints,
and I'm sold on them bigtime!
Here's what I do --
I use the uninked ColorBox foam pads, I expect uninked foam pads
from another supplier would be just as good,
but I don't think felt would work.
My first step is to put two or three drops of white vinager on the
pad, and work it in with a spatula. I believe this slows the drying
process of the ink, and makes the pad live longer. Next I work the
paint into the pad, a little at a time, until about half the bottle has
been absorbed. (This takes patience!)
Once the ink has been absorbed, stamp with the pad as usual. I've
actually found that linear stamps work best, I don't know why.
What's great about this method is that Deka has a huge range
of colors, so you can get some really exciting effects -
I just covered a pair of jeans in flourescent lightening bolts earlier tonight.
Worth mentioning - DON'T use the metallic Deka paints in this method - it
doesn't work. (Which is a real shame, I really wanted to stamp w/ silver
ink on black jeans.)
Also of interest - there's an exciting new fabric ink pad on the market
It's called Fabrico, sold by a company called Tsukineko.
It looks for all the world like a colorbox, raised felt pad, and all that,
nice rich colors,and my first experience with it was very positive.
After stamping one pair of jeans, I ordered a full palette, but I tend to go a
little overboard. I've had mixed results with these. I really, REALLY want to
endorse them heartily, since they generally print beautifully, and most of my
attempts have been very successful. However, I had one shirt that I stamped
with Fabricos that faded dramatically with the first washing. (It was a 100%
cotton t-shirt, which had been washed many times.) Bottom line - these are
still the best fabric inks I've ever used. They aren't perfect, and you should
test your fabrics before you go whole hog into them. On the plus side, the
people at Tsukineko have been doing tests on my faded shirt, and have been
EXTREMELY helpful, helpful to the point that I will never buy anything from
Clearsnap again so long as Tsukineko continues to make similar products which
they support this well. Try them!
Likewise, a small company called Pele's has an excellent
black fabric ink/pad combination - don't think she has
other colors, but it's a great, rich black. (top)
Chapter 2: What resources are available?
(More and more publications keep surfacing every month - this is far from complete)
The very best resources, IMHO, are the stamping publications, namely
In my opinion, this is the one absolute must-have for all stamp
enthusiasts. It has grown, over the many years I've known it,
from a small tabloid-format newspaper to a large-format square
bound magazine pushing 150+ pages an issue. It is published
bimonthly, features beautiful color plates , consistently
well written articles that appeal to rank beginners to seasoned
stampers alike, and is IMHO the best source of advertisments for
industry resources as well. (Most of the companies I list
herein are taken from the pages of RSM.)
Subscriptions cost $24/year for six issues, a sample issue is $7
Their address -
408 SW Monroe #210
Corvallis, Oregon 97330
Phone: 541-752-0075 (old area code was 503)
Web page: http://www.rsmadness.com
2.2 National Stampagraphic
A smaller publication, geared a bit more towards the mainstream,
with more emphasis on beginner sorts of topics. They have
a somewhat more eclectic bunch of articles and writers, and
their layout has a 'diamond-in-the-rough' sort of charm all its
own. Also important to note is that Franklin Stein (Editor) is
a member of the online community, and frequently contributes.
He is NatStamp@AOL.com, I believe. Give it a look - it doesn't
have the mass-market slickness of RSM, but there's great stuff
in every issue. It is published quarterly, and issues average
around 50 pages (that's a guess)
Subscriptions cost $18.00 Single copies $5.00
Their Address -
Art Stamps, Inc
P.O. Box 370985
Las Vegas, NV 89137
Phone - 702-396-2188
Fax = 702-396-2189
2.3 Eraser Carver's Quarterly
This is really a small 'zine, but it contains some useful
information for eraser carvers, and provides a great way to
showcase the carvings you're really proud of - they make an
effort to print the stampings they recieve in the mail.
Definitely worth checking out if you're into the carving
They average about 16 pages, but they're
packed with good stuff.
Subscription - $10 for four issues, sample copy $3
Their address -
P.O. Box 222
Clay, NY 13041-0222
Phone: (315) 635-1477
Checks and money orders should be payable to Mick Mather
2.4 Vamp Stamp News
This is a nice, fairly young stamping 'zine. My sample issue
was 24 pages long - and I like it :). It's similar in format to
Stampagraphic, though much less established, and appears from
the sample issue I have to focus more on resource listings
and catalog reviews than on articles, though my issue has a few
'helpful hint' type articles, which are well put together.
Of particular interest to this group is the 'Online
News' Section, which lists goings on on Prodigy, AOL, GEnie,
CompuServe, Delphi, and the Internet. (Quite thoroughly, for
that matter - easily the best treatment I've seen.)
Subscription: $20 for 12 issues, samples $2.50
Vamp Stamp News
PO Box 386
Hanover, MD 21076-0386
2.5 The Rubber Stamper
This is a new publication, and to be honest, it's not my cup
of tea. However, I'll do my best to give a fair appraisal -
I've only seen one issue, and it's very likely that this
magazine will grow and mature with time. (These are my opinions
only, not those of Zum Gali Gali.)
Here's my opinion --
This magazine is very slick and professional-looking, and
apparently geared towards newbie stampers looking for
cookbook-style "projects." The style is firmly on the cute
end of the spectrum, with a bit of that new 'layered' look
tossed in for variety. From what I've seen, this mag has none
of the respect for creativity shown by RSM, NatStamp,
or VampStamp. However, it does offer many potential
helpful hints for newbie stampers, and a few interesting
techniques here and there - the problem is that all the
techniques read like ads for specific products.
My (personal) final word - a nice slick publication that
will appeal to newbies and those with particular interest
in cutesy stamps. Not a good choice for seasoned stampers
or those interested in finding their own personal styles.
Subscriptions: $25 for 6 issues (92 pages, mostly ads)
The Rubber Stamper
Englishtown, NJ 07726-9982
2.6 Online Services
To my knowledge, Prodigy, America Online, GEnie, Compuserve and
Delphi (does delphi even exist anymore?)
all offer stamping special interest groups.
We also have our own internet newsgroup -
rec.crafts.rubberstamps, with participation growing
If you have experience with any of these stamping SIGs, please
let me know, and I will add the information to the FAQ.
Stamp-related web sites continue to sprout up, I don't have
a sufficient list to be useful. (In June of '96 there were
2.7 This FAQ
This FAQ list will be updated periodicly.
If there is information you would like to see added to the FAQ,
please email it to me at
email@example.com, with a
subject of 'FAQ additions' - I get a LOT of mail, but will
do my best to reply personally.
2.8 The Stamping Mailing List
Subscribe/unsubscribe commands go to
firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the
body put: subscribe rubberstampers
Email/posts go to email@example.com
I haven't been on the list for some time now - simply too
much volume there for my busy emailbox, but I definitely
recommend the list to everyone interested in a vibrant
conversation about stamps. (top)
Chapter 3 - How do I make my own stamps?
3.1 Buying unmounted dies
Ok, this isn't really 'making my own' since someone else has
designed the image and turned it into a rubber die for you,
which is really the hard part. Still, it's a great way to
save money, if you're stamping on a tight budget. Many stamp
companies will sell you their dies at half-price if you buy them
unmounted, and mount them yourself. You get a first-quality
die, and then have to find wood and cushion to mount it. If
you do this carefully, you get a stamp that's just as good
as a professionally assembled one.
(Catie Kniess says she finds home-assembled stamps are
often of *higher* quality than some of the mass-produced ones
giant companies are making these days. I have to agree, though
I think the small mom+pop companies still have superior
quality standards in general.) (top)
3.2 Having someone else vulcanize your designs
If you're an artist, or have a collection of dover clip-art
books that you want to turn into stamps, you might want to
pay someone to make you sheets of your own designs.
**(Please note - the dover books are not completely
royalty-free, though for your personal use, you porobably don't
have to worry, you should still look very closely at the fine
print in the book to make sure you're not infringing on their
rights. Dover's policies seem to change from year to year, and
from book to book so if you want to be covered, look carefully,
and contact Dover to be extra certain.)**
High-quality dies are very costly to produce, as they require
an expensive engraving on a metal plate before the mold can be
made. For your own personal use, though, a slightly lower
quality die will probably be fine - you can have them made
fairly inexpensively by California Rubber Stamps or
Stamp Pros. Both of them will produce for you a 4x5" sheet of
vulcanized dies from your camera-ready art for $20 or less.
IMHO, California dies are of higher quality, though neither are
up to my professional standards for my company.
Alternatively, many stamp companies offer a single-stamp custom
stamp making service. This often costs two to three times the
price of a stamp of equivalent size from their catalog, but you
get a high quality stamp that's professionally trimmed and
mounted. If you only want a single stamp, this may be the way
California Rubber Stamps - 1-800-274-6789 $20 for 4x5" sheet
[California Rubber recently JACKED their prices way way
up, I think it's $50 now, instead of $20 - use
them at your own risk]
StampPros - 1-811-713-4095 $15 for 4x5" sheet
either should be willing to send you a sample die if you are
considering their service. (top)
3.3 Carving your own stamps - abridged version
For now, I'm not going to delve into all the intricacies of
this subject, but I'll do my best to cover the basics.
The first step, get an eraser and an ink pad, press the
eraser into the ink, and print it on paper - you've
just made a stamp of a rectangle. Not very exciting, you say?
Well, you're right. So it's now our task to make that a more
I always start with a drawing of some kind - I'll usually trace
my eraser (I prefer the white plastic erasers, Magic-Rub or
Staedtler-Mars, also the carving blocks from Nasco or Dick
If you draw in pencil, your drawing can be transferred to your
eraser quite easily. Remember that fine details are difficult
to carve, start simply, with big bold shapes, as your skill
improves, add smaller details.
Once you have your design, it's time to transfer it to your
stamp. Put your eraser on top of the design, flip the paper
over, and scribble on the back of the paper (the part that's
over the eraser) with a heavy, even pressure. This will
transfer your design, AND will insure that your stamp
prints the same way you drew it - transferring
it reverses the image, as does printing the stamp.
I carve with an X-acto brand knife, I find that they are the
sharpest and sturdiest brand. I particularly like the X-acto
Gripster. Linoleum gouges can also come in handy -
Speedball makes a good line of these as well as safer
'Linozips' which are better for cutting erasers than for
Remember that the parts you cut away will be the parts that are
white in the print, what you leave will be the part that takes
the ink - it's a different mentality than drawing, since you're
taking things away.
Be careful not to undercut your lines - I always cut v-shaped
like this: NOT like this:
___ ___ ___ ___
this will make your stamp more stable.
If you want more information, bug me about it - I'll put
more in the next FAQ, also check out Eraser Carver's Quarterly. (top)
Chapter 4: Inks
You basically have two choices for consumer-grade stamping inks,
dye based, and pigment based. What's the difference, you ask?
4.1 Dye Inks
Dye-based inks are like the kind people have been using for
decades in offices and other mundane places. The
old-fashioned ones were horrible, but recently there have been
some wonderful newcomers to the dye-based world, making these
really viable. Dye inks are a liquid dye that soaks into the
paper, providing a color. They are translucent, so the color of
the paper affects them greatly. They dry quickly, and work on
many sorts of surfaces.
Recommended brands - Clearsnap Vivid, Clearsnap Brush Box,
Abracadada Rainbow Pads, Stewart Superior
Dye pads, Tsukineko Kaleidacolor
Pros - Dry quickly, work on many sorts of surfaces
Cons - Translucent, limited color selection, quick-drying is
less good for embossing. rainbow colors bleed together
4.2 Pigment Inks
These took the stamping world by storm about five years ago,
and they're really wonderful for some things, and really not so
good for others. These inks are much more like an acrylic
paint,they offer a huge and beautiful range of colors, but they
dry slowly and do not work well on coated stocks (they NEVER
dry on Kromecoat, for example.) For a rich, multicolor print,
a rainbow pigmnent pad is your best bet - I swear by my pigment
pads. BUT if you're doing a large edition, the slow-drying
inks may smudge as you stack them up - be warned.
Recommended Brands - Clearsnap Paintbox and ColorBox, Imprintz
Pigment Pads, Niji ColorCubes, anything by Tsukineko.
Pros - Wide range of colors, slow drying makes them GREAT for
embossing, excellent non-bleeding rainbows, Opaque
Cons - Dry slowly, don't work on coated paper. (top)
4.3 Cleaning stamps
I can't stress this enough, it is critical that your stamps be
kept clean. I speak from sixteen years stamp collecting
experience, and also as co-owner of a stamp company. Dirty
stamps will eventually become hard and brittle, and fine
detail will clog with ink - especially if you use pigment inks.
Not to mention the contamination you'll get in your stamp pads,
remember, a clean stamp is a happy stamp!
I clean my stamps just with a damp Bounty paper towel folded
several times on a styrofoam meat tray. Others like to use small
sponges or more complicated devices. Since most inks are
water-soluble these days, I do not feel that solvent-based
stamp cleaners are necessary - water usually does the job. If
you want to try a solvent-based cleaner, try diluting 1 part
Windex in 10 parts water. I clean stamps as I work, it's really
not a chore. (top)
Chapter 5: Shameless Plugs
5.1 Zum Gali Gali - my company!
Zum Gali Gali is a small, relatively young company specializing in
original, offbeat designs that you haven't seen before. Some
unique categories include Judaica, New England imagery, *Amazing*
carvings by Robin Taylor of ECQ fame, photographic postoids, not to
mention more offbeat animals and people than you could shake a
Our 38-page 800+ image catalog can be yours for $3.00, which we
cheerfully refund with your first order, or you can get our latest
flyer for free, just by sending me your address.
Grab bags are also available - $8 for a 10 die grab, $12 for a 20
die grab, $16 for a 30 die grab. Specify general-interest or Judaic,
and please add $2.50 shipping+handling.
For a catalog send $3.00 made out to Zum Gali Gali to:
Zum Gali Gali Rubber Stamps
PO Box 610187
Newton Highlands, MA 02461
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and write something about the stamps FAQ in the subject, 'cause I get a lot of mail.
Any advice gratefully accepted - if you have something you'd like to add,
please feel free.
Charles Bandes - Zum Gali Gali Rubber Stamps
Charles Bandes "When in doubt, draw a frog!"
Zum Gali Gali Rubber Stamps "Stamp the Planet!"
Last updated Sunday, March 14, 1999