Until recently, all stamps came ready to use, mounted on a wooden block. These days, there are a few other options on the market. You can buy foam stamps, acrylic stamps but my favourite is the rubber stamp die that comes unmounted, without cushioning. Many companies have moved to selling unmounted rubber dies. They give purchasers more choice in mounting systems, take up much less storage space, can usually be placed more accurately because you can see through the acrylic block (used to support the stamp while stamping with it) and usually cost less than wood-mounted stamps.
To Mount a stamp:
Acrylic stamps or rubber stamps which already have sticky back system do not need other mounting/cushioning as they cling to an acrylic block/handle, as is. For rubber dies, there are a few different methods available to mount the rubber for easy use on an acrylic block. It is helpful if you have a few different sizes of acrylic blocks as small stamps are easier to manage and stamp on small blocks and larger stamps obviously need a block large enough to take the whole stamp.
Here is the process I use to mount my stamps. I find this to be the easiest and quickest way:
- Decide on a mounting system that you like. There are a number available – the most common ones are *EZMount, *double-sided tape (such as 3M Poster Tape #109, the best tape to use on acrylic blocks as it is low tack and will not leave any residue when you remove it and it holds the rubber die on the block), *Velcro or a *magnet system. *Some people used to use on & off glue but this is more messy system.
- Unmounted stamps usually come in a sheet of plain rubber. It can be easier to trim them into individual stamps before mounting onto your preferred mounting system. At this stage you don’t have to trim them too closely, but always be very careful not to trim so closely that you damage the rubber image as you cut. Do not tear the rubber, either, as this can also damage the image.
- I prefer to use EZMount to mount and cushion my stamps.EZMount is a sheet of foam that is ultra sticky on one side (to stick to the rubber) and smooth on the other side to stick to your acrylic block. So clean and easy! Just peel the backing off the sticky side of your EZ Mount foam and stick the rubber sheet or individual die on it, with the image side up.
- Cut off any extra foam around the rubber stamp. For this you need very sharp scissors. Small blades allow you to get around curves more easily and be very careful not to damage the image as you trim. I use Kai scissors, which are sharp and the ones I have found best suited to cut through foam and rubber at the same time.
- Peel the backing off the smooth side of foam.
- Use straight, vertical cuts to carefully trim around the image – be very careful not to damage your image. Cut through both the foam and the rubber. Be sure to cut completely around the image and do not tear the rubber.
- Once your stamps are cut, they need to be stored carefully (it can be easy to lose a small stamp) and again there are many methods that people use. You can use special boxes, CD cases or specially purchased systems or if you use ezymount, put the backed stamp onto a transparency sheet and store in a clear plastic sleeve. (I can fit up to 6 sleeves with stamps in one of my drawers). I store my stamps by theme and I stamp each image onto a sheet of paper the same size as my intended storage container (plastic sleeve or cd case). It makes it very easy to identify which stamp I want to use and where it is stored.
Stamping with unmounted stamps:
When you use unmounted stamps, simply put the image you want to stamp onto an acrylic block. If you use EZ Mount it will cling to the acrylic block on its own. Ink the stamp with the desired color and stamp! Its simply that easy.
If you don’t use the EZMount system or a system with some cushioning, you will need to stamp on top of a cushioned mouse pad or similar. The mouse pad acts as your cushion, so you get a complete image.
Cleaning unmounted stamps:
Cleaning unmounted rubber stamps is no different to any other rubber stamp. Personally, I prefer plain water and a sponge to clean my stamps – easy, clean and doesn’t harm rubber (or acrylic) stamps. Then I dry them with soft, lint free towel or clean paper towel.
If a little ink staining worries you, you can buy special cleaners for certain inks at a craft or stamp store. Some people advocate using diluted window cleaner with strong paper towel or a baby wipe but I am not sure about how they might react with the rubber with repeated use. (Stamp cleaners, baby wipes etc. should never be used with acrylic stamps - plain water only for these and although the acrylic will stain it does not affect their use.)