TYPES OF STAMP
Stamps are available in two formats: mounted to a wooden block, or unmounted in sheets. These sheets can be cut up and either mounted to repositionable foam, or else painted on the back with a repositionable adhesive, eg: Stamporium Ultimate Adhesive, then used with an acrylic block.Stamps are available in two types: traditional rubber (pink, red or grey) or polymer (which is translucent).
LOOKING AFTER YOUR STAMPS
The two main points:
Never wash a mounted stamp under the tap - the rubber can come off the cushion. However, if the rubber does come off, don't panic - stick the image back on using rubber solution glue.
Never leave a rubber stamp out in the sun - this makes the rubber brittle and it can perish over time.
Stamp-cleaning mats are excellent - just wet under the tap and re-use over and over. Dry off on kitchen towel.
Alchol-free baby wipes are excellent for cleaning stamps, hands, and also to remove most inks from the handle of the stamp (the block). Finish by blotting with kitchen towel.
Filthy, ink-clogged stamps can be cleaned with an old toothbrush - either dampened with plain water or with a designated stamp cleaner. Rinse off by wiping with damp kitchen roll, a damp flannel or old towel, then dry with kitchen roll.
Absolutely disgustingly gunged stamps? Use Staz-On cleaner - this will remove virtually any ink build-up. Finish by wiping with damp kitchen roll etc, as above.
Polymer stamps can become a little sticky after cleaning: simply dust with baby powder.
STORAGE OF MOUNTED STAMPS
Store stamps flat, rubber side down, or else standing on edge (as in a stamp shop) facing away from the sun.
DON'T throw them into a pile in a box where the rubber or polymer is distorted by the blocks of other rubber stamps pressing down on them. This will create a permanent dent in the surface. Also, don't store in wire baskets (for the same reason). Once damaged in this way, you will find the damage is permanent.
You can layer stamps on top of each other but not too many or, again, you may distort the rubber. Keep the big (heavy) ones at the bottom and make sure the rubber is supported. Personally, I think two layers is enough.
A good stop-gap for storing stamps are pizza boxes (clean, unused ones) but again, not more than 2 or 3 on top of each other, or there will be too much weight on the bottom layer.
Huge block stamps can be difficult to store: investigate the option of deep drawers or cardboard boxes which can then be stored on a shelf. Block stamps are expensive and need to be kept out of the sun - on all surfaces! An easy, cheap option whilst you are searching for the perfect storage solution is use an old box - one that held detergent tablets. These have a small flap, which can be tucked inside or fastened with self-adhesive Velcro tabs. They are the right dimensions and made of very strong cardboard, so are stackable. If you don't like the appearance of the box, paint it or collage scrapbook papers over the top.
Clear nail varnish painted on the wood around the stamp helps to keep it clean, if ink stains really worry you.
If you get do ink on the block of the stamp, just get over it! A stamp is a tool, and made to be used - don't get too worried about it, or you will be too afraid to use it.
STORAGE OF UNMOUNTED STAMPS
Unmounted stamps are popular as they take up much less space. Store the acrylic handles in a drawer and use over and over.
If you prefer to use your UMs without adhesive (using glue stick on the back, and washing off when you clean your stamps) storage is very easy.
Stamp the image onto the front of an envelope, and tuck the stamp inside. Store upright in a card file box, by category.
Too big? Use giant envelopes, and store flap-side upwards in a ring binder.
WITH ADHESIVE OR EZ MOUNT
The back of the stamp will be sticky, or clingy (to adhere to the acrylic blocks used as handles).
Stick onto the front of transparency sheets, with the index (image) sheet behind, so that you can identify your stamps, and store in a ring binder.
OR: Use a photo album (the sort where you peel away the protective sheet). Place the index sheet on the cardboard under the protective sheet, smooth back down, then stick the stamps on the front, over the index sheet so that you can see which stamp is which. Simple!
Don't put too many stamps in each binder, or they will be too heavy to stand up. Again, the aim is to keep the stamps clean and out of the sun.
©Susie Jefferson for Blade Rubber Stamps 2009
Susie Jefferson is a regular teacher of popular Classes at Blade Rubber