You can click on the images to enlarge them if you need more detail.
Keep all your scrap pieces of card, they're ideal for practising on and for making small, stamped toppers. Keep your eyes open too - the pieces of card at the bottom of this picture lined a pack of chocolate biscuits! Don't forget that if a textured piece isn't suitable for stamping on the textured side, it may be if you turn it over and use the other side.
Lay your stamp flat on your working surface and take the ink pad to your stamp - this way you can make sure that all of the stamp gets an even coating of the ink. Try not to be too heavy handed, lots of light tapping is much better than a little heavy squishing.
If you have been a little heavy handed and got some ink on the edge of the rubber, take the time to clean the edges before you stamp - a cotton bud can be very useful for this.
These images show some common mistakes, from the top left:
- uneven pressure on the stamp mean that some parts have been missed
- top right shows what can happen when excess ink isn't cleaned from the edges of the rubber
- the bottom picture hasn't had the excess ink removed and the stamp wasn't put down cleanly resulting in blurring so let's look at how to avoid these.
I have used a stamping mat although this doesn't suit everyone so before you buy one, you could try using an old telephone directory which will do a very similar job. Putting a piece of scrap paper under your card will help to protect your working surface. Turn your inked stamp over and lining it up where you want to place it on your card, carefully but firmly place it straight down.
Once you have it in place, keep hold of it with one hand so that it doesn't move and use the fingers of the other hand to exert gentle pressure all over the stamp. Do not 'rock' the stamp - you are more likely to end up with mistakes such as those pictures above. When you've done this, lift the stamp straight up to avoid smudging your image.
This is just a little tip when you are working with a wood mounted stamp - if you are wanting to make the image into a topper, line two of the edges up with the card (in this picture I've lined up the top and left hand edge) and before you lift the stamp off the card, use a pencil to mark where the other two eges are. If you use these pencil marks as your cutting line, the chances are your image will be in the middle and is easily trimmed so that you're happy with it. Keep one hand on the stamp untill you've done this, the only reason I haven't is because my other hand was holding the camera.
Before we go on to use the image in a project, I just want to mention stamping with unmounted stamps. You will need something to mount them on and the most popular method is acrylic blocks which come in a variety of sizes. It's useful to have a few sizes but if you can only manage to get one to begin with, you're better will a large one because you can still use it for small stamps but not vice versa. If your block is a reasonable size for your stamp, place it centrally as in number 1 in this picture - although, having taken the photo I can see that the stamp needs to come lower down on the block or the church spire probably won't stamp properly! A lot of the time you are likely to be using stamps that are quite a bit smaller than one block and too big for another one you have. In this situation, it's best to put the stamp on one side of the block and put a clean, uninked stamp on the other side of the block (2) to balance it and reduce the chances of 'rocking' and spoiling your image. Sometimes, to get a good balance it will be necessary for the two stamps to be very close to one another on the block (3) - in this instance, it's better to ink your stamp up before you add the clean one to the block so that you don't get some ink on the clean stamp accidentally.
My stamped image ready to use. We're not colouring it in on this occasion, we'll cover that in another tutorial but the rest of this one will show you that even if you aren't confident about colouring yet, you can still make a lovely card.
Giving your topper an edge helps it to stand out. All I've done here is to stroke the edges with the same ink pad I used to stamp with.
You could add the ink with a sponge instead or you could do what I've done here, which is both! Use a piece of sponge to pick up a little ink from the pad.
Tap it onto your scrap paper first to make sure you haven't got too much on the sponge.
Gently dab it on the four corners of your image then see if you like what you've done - you can always add more but you can't take it off again.
Depending on the size of the image, you can decide at this point whether you want to add it to the sides too.
When you've got it how you want it, add some DST (double sided tape) to the four sides of the back and turn the corners back just a little. Cut a piece of silver mirror or foil card 4mm larger than your image to give you a 2mm border all round.
Lay your image onto your silver mat and when you are satisfied that you have it centered, stick the four corners down.
Gently pull the backing from the DST to stick the image down firmly. Doing it this way is the easiest way to get your border even.
Cut a complementary piece of paper one centimetre wider than the silver mat and tear at an angle at the bottom so that it reaches about two thirds of the way down your base card (in this case the base card is a DL) for your second mat and use DST to stick your image and silver mat to it. You can either use DST or foam pads to attach this to your base card.
All you need to do now is add your greeting and any embellishments you like - and if you're feeling brave you can even add a tiny bit of colour like I have to the heart on this one.
As you can see, you can make a stamped card very simply that someone will treasure - I intend to enter this one into a challenge in fact!
Now it's your turn! I don't mind whether you're a new stamper or a seasoned stamper, I'd love to see your take on this card. You can use any colourway and stamp you have in your stash, and follow this layout adding your own twist or not as you choose. If you do make it and have a blog, please link it back to here so that I can come and have a look at your masterpiece - I am confident that it will be a masterpiece!