Reasons stamping can go wrong.
Whenever I purchase new stamps or receive them with craft magazines I subscribe to I always like to test them out before using them on a project. If you cannot get a clear stamped impression from a stamp there are three things that could be causing the problem. The stamp, the ink or the method. I have spent a fair bit of time and trial and error and believe I have come up with the best method and a reliable ink. Sometimes the stamp itself can be at fault.
To test out new stamps I always use my Tonic Studios Tim Holtz Stamping Platform. I know there are other platforms available but when I came to the point that I knew I needed one I did a load of research into the different features of them all and decided this was the right one for me. You can read my post about the stamping platform here.
Why I needed a Stamping Platform
Why did I need one? With the Fibromyalgia (not to mention a bonus gift of some Arthritis in my hands) I could no longer rely on my hands to get a clean even print with stamps. With a flat acrylic block, you are required to ensure you have pressed evenly against the whole stamp. For a large stamp, there was not only the issue of my hands letting me down with the physical pressing but also the problem of Fibro Fog (especially if I get distracted) knowing where I have pressed and where I haven’t.
I was increasingly finding I was not getting good results, even when I used Rocker Blockers (from Crafter’s Companion) which I find far superior to basic flat acrylic blocks and always guaranteed me a clear impression before I began having difficulties with my hands. The benefit of a stamping platform is that if for whatever reason you do not get a clean impression you can simply re-ink and go again and you are guaranteed to be exactly in the same spot. When using traditional stamping blocks even the best eyes can be slightly off when stamping for the second time and then you risk shadowing.
The Ink Used
The ink you choose to use can make a big difference when it comes to getting a clear stamped impression. This is more important with some stamps than it is with others. Certain stamps made from Polymer like the Hunkydory and Dreamees ones never seem to have issues and you can stamp them with a variety of inks straight out of the packet, but others made from cheaper? materials can have issues like pooling. You can see exactly what I mean if you look at this test of a fairy stamp.
I always use Ranger Archival Ink to test new stamps, especially the ones that come as free gifts with magazines. Naturally, they have a restricted budget so have to rely on cheaper materials. If you use an ink pad like Memento which I love, especially when I am colouring with my Spectrum Noir Alcohol Markers, you can easily get the pooling effect I talked about. As well as the Ranger Archival Ink VersaMark is another reliable ink for working with stamps where the ink is pooling due to the sticky consistency of the ink. once a problematic stamp has been used with Versamark it can then often work fine with inks like Memento afterwards.
How much work is needed
When it comes to trying out new stamps a lot of my decision as to whether to keep them or not is based on how much work is needed to get a clear impression. There are times that even using the platform and Archival Ink I do not get a clear stamped impression the first time and I need to go again. When I am using quite large stamps I sometimes find it beneficial to use a brayer over the platform to take the pressure off my hands, there is a selection to choose from at Amazon. Sometimes even after braying I don’t have a complete image and have to re-ink and press certain parts again by hand. That was the case for this stamp I shared a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be honest I only kept it because it was absolutely beautiful and I loved it. Other stamps like the Doilies displayed further up simply would not give a clear impression no matter what I tried.
Testing stamps when you receive them
Stamps like anything else that is manufactured can simply have rogue faulty ones that have been missed by Quality Control. There is absolutely no reason to assume that just because you have got a difficult one there is a problem with all of the stamps from a particular manufacturer. This is one of the reasons I have now tried to start testing my stamps as soon as I get them, rather than squirrelling them away and finding faults months or even years later when it is too late to do anything about it.
I hope this has been useful for you if you have been struggling with your stamping. Remember if you are having problems don’t just give up and assume it is you at fault.