Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stamp Care

If you dhave a stamp that doesn't give you a good stamped image, there are some things you can try. (Most are for CTMH My Acrylix or but I did throw some tips in for traditional wood stamps too.)
  • First off, our stamps all come with a foam insert. This keeps the stamps from sticking to the papers enclosed or the envelope, AND most importantly, it replaces the cushion that your traditional wooden stamps have in between the die (red rubber) and wood. Place the foam cushion underneath your scrap paper, noting where the edges of it are on the scrap paper. Then place your project paper on top of the scrap paper, inside of the edges you just noted, and stamp. Most small stamps don't need cushion, but we cannot apply even pressure for larger stamps and this is where the cushion comes in handy. Try it with your traditional wooden stamps too if you have problems, this little cushion actually has helped with some of those.
  • When you stamp, you should press straight down, with an even downward pressure, and pick  straight up. Don't push down and/or rock back and forth. This will give you shadowing or ghosting images, or even breaks in your images.
  • Use a block that fits your image. You can use a 2" square block to stamp a 1" image if you are careful and place your stamp in the center of your block, but don't try to use a 4" x 5" block for a 1" image. This will be more problems for you than it is worth. You are likely to get ink on your block and then on your project or misstamp your image from using a block that is too big. Blocks are an investment, get the best ones you can afford. While you don't need every size out there, do get an assortment of sizes so you can get enough variety that you aren't fighting your blocks.
  • Try inking your image and stamping it a few times on scrap paper.
  • For clear stamps: Take a clean eraser and erase the stamp; it could have a release agent on it (like using Pam when you bake). I went to the Dollar Tree and bought some white erasers. I carry one in my toolbox.
  • For Rubber Stamps: Use a FINE nail file and VERY LIGHTLY sand the image in one direction.
  • Try uing embossing ink, does it work better? or even try inking your stamp first with an embossing ink and then with the dye ink; don't clean the embossing ink off. At one of her workshops, Sandra McCall shared that clear embossing ink is actually conditioning to traditional rubber stamps.
  • Clean your stamps (and the block if needed) immediately after use. The longer ink remains, the more difficult it will be to remove. (Pigment inks such as Close To My Heart Archival Ink and Staz On will permanently discolor the stamp image. As was the case with rubber, you will also notice that over time darker inks like reds and purples will also cause some discoloration.) I actually like it when my stamps get stained. They're easier to find when I drop them !
  • Use stamp cleaner. When Close To My Heart first came out with My Acrylix stamps (premium-quality polymer) and said to use their My Spritz Cleaner, I thought it would be too expensive, but thought I'd give it a try. I bought 4 spray bottles and one refill. Since then I have bought 2 additional refills and am just now getting to where I need a third. I have used the cleaner straight out of the bottle. This year, because I was running out I started filling my little spray bottles with half water and half cleaner.
  • DO NOT use baby wipes or paper towels, on clear stamps, at least not CTMH My Acrylix. They both have lint which will stick to our My Acrylix and the directions say not to use them. I have favorite My Acrylix alpha stamps that came out years ago, even as a test before My Acrylix came out. and they are still sticking to blocks just perfect and holding the ink. But I don't use baby wipes or paper towels on them as directed. I pretty much use CTMH stamp cleaner or after a weekend of heavy stamping with friends, I will put all of my stamps and blocks in a bowl of warm water with a partial pump of Joy or Palmolive dishsoap to clean them. (I have a soap dispenser built in the back of my sink. This may equate to 1/2 teaspoon.) I use another bowl of warm clean water for rinsing. I dry them on a Kirkland (Costco brand) paper towel. They seem to be pretty lint free.
  • Use soap and water to restore tack. Dust, dirt, and oils may cause your stamps to become less sticky over time. If you find they seem less adhesive, simply wash the stamps with dish soap and water to restore their original “stick.” (Continual use of soap and water will eventually cause a build-up. CTMH recommends using this method occasionally, only as needed.) Don't forget to wash your blocks and even the carrier sheet on which your stamps are stored. If you have a set that us used alot, the carrier sheet will get irty and need to be cleaned occasionally.
  • Use alcohol to remove residue. If you notice a residue on the back of your stamps, rub them with alcohol using a non-abrasive, fiber free cloth. DO NOT USE ALCOHOL ON MY ACRYLIX BLOCKS. (Extensive use of alcohol is not recommended. Use this method occasionally, only as needed.) If you cannot find a fiber free cloth, look at my post on soak-off gel nails, I haven't had to do this yet, but would probably use one of the latex free round sponges I bought when looking for lint-free wipes.
  • Staz On ink was designed for permanently decorating non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, and ceramic, not for use in albums or with paper crafts. The ink has no effect on the stamp or block, other than discoloration. CTMH recommends cleaning your stamps with the My Spritz Cleaner as outlined above, immediately after use for best results. Although it is safe to use on your stamps, we do not recommend using StazOn cleaner (or any oil based cleaner) on My Acrylix blocks. Personally, I wouldn't use the cleaner on my stamps. I have a friend who used it all the time and now some of her stamps are quite gummy. Her blocks have clouds and now I know why. They may have changed the formula, since I found this information but why chance it when there is something that does work. I am NOT a StazOn fan. It isn't a good ink for someone with asthma. Also, I got some to try before it was available to the public, even when working with glass you have to use a fixative like Krylon or your images will wash off in the diswasher.
  • You can stamp with bleach using your My Acrylix. Just carefully clean your stamps immediately after use. TIP: When stamping with bleach, I like using gel bleach, Viva paper towels, and a glass dish. I fold the towel in quarters and put it on the plate, then pour on enough gel bleach to make a "bleach pad." I have found that this method gives me enough wetness that I don't have too much to splash bleach on myself and it gives me enough to create the images for which I am aiming.
Hope you found something useful here.

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