How to: use your traditional rubber stamp

custom rubber stamp

While using a rubber stamp seems simple, it can be surprisingly tricky to achieve good, consistent results, particularly with more detailed stamp designs.

Hand-printing with a stamp is imperfect in nature [and why we love it], but with a bit of practice you can get your technique down pat, and achieve the look you're after. [Or, if you're looking for sharper, more consistent prints, consider a pre-inked stamp instead].

If your stamp print isn't quite turning out the way you expected, it's likely due to one of three things: your ink, your surface or your technique. Here's our tips for getting the best from your traditional rubber stamp.

It's all about the ink.

Make sure your ink pad has enough ink. Brand new ink pads can be a little bit ‘juicy’. In this case, use a paper towel to blot excess ink from the pad. Try storing your ink pad upside down (with the lid on, of course) to help keep ink at the surface of the pad.

Keep in mind that larger stamps or designs with lots of printable area will need more ink, while smaller stamps or stamp designs with fine lines will require less. Make sure you don't use *too* much pressure when inking your stamp, as you'll end up with ink in negative spaces and you'll get a blotchy print as a result. 

Use a strong surface.

Always use your stamp on a solid, even surface - your packing table, a desk or your kitchen bench all work well. Place some paper on top of your surface [large sheets of butchers paper are ideal] to provide some additional support and also keep your table top clean.

Perfect that technique.

Press your stamp onto the ink pad. Before you stamp, take a look at the surface to make sure the whole design is covered. Then, press straight down onto your surface with firm, even pressure, and pull straight up. With larger stamps, you can gently rock the stamp to ensure the entire design makes contact with your surface.

Large stamps and designs with lots of solid area will need a bit more pressure when stamping. You might find you need to press down with your fingers onto the stamp with your fingers to apply even pressure across the whole surface of your stamp. We find that stamping is best done standing up, it helps to apply even pressure. 

For small or very fine, detailed stamps, applying only light pressure will ensure your print doesn't turn out smudged.

When you’re done stamping, allow a few seconds for the ink to dry before you touch it. Most dye-based inks dry almost instantly, but other types of ink can take longer.

Take good care of your gear.

Keep your stamp clean. Build up of ink over time can impact your stamp print, so when you’re done using your stamp, give it a gentle clean with a damp cloth (we often use alcohol-free baby wipes). If it’s been a while between cleaning, you could try using a soft toothbrush and some mild soapy water – just don’t get water onto the timber block and be careful, particularly if your stamp has fine detail. Store your stamp in a dry, shaded environment, keeping it out of direct sunlight will help avoid ‘yellowing’ of the rubber.

If you have any of your own tips, feel free to share them the comments!

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