What Are Clear Stamps? Get a Clear Stamps Definition Plus Get Instructions for How to Use Clear Stamps and Find Bunches of Ideas for Using Them to Decorate Your Craft Projects.
What are clear stamps?
“Clear stamps” is a catch-all term describing any craft stamps that are clear. When they’re brand new, clear stamps are usually close to transparent; over time, they can yellow or get “cloudy” in appearance. Clear stamps can be made of different materials such as silicon or photopolymer.
When new, most clear stamps are tacky, a property which allows you to temporarily adhere them to a clear acrylic block and then remove them with ease after you’ve finished using them. For this reason, they could possibly be described as cling stamps; however, there are also rubber stamps that are NOT clear stamps that have this capability – so the term “cling stamp” doesn’t automatically always apply to clear stamps.
Clear stamps can be sold as individual items, but they usually come packaged in sets.
How to Use Clear Stamps
In case you’re asking yourself, “How do clear stamps work, anyway?” here’s an explanation of how to use clear stamps.
Your first step is to select a stamp you want to use. Then you take the stamp, remove it from its protective backing, and press it onto a clear acrylic stamping block. Make sure it is firmly adhered and will not come loose. If it’s an older stamp that seems to have lost its “tackiness”, you might need to wash it with soap and water, pat it dry thoroughly and then reattach it to your stamping block.
When you stamp with clear stamps, you’ll want to work on top of a craft mat or similar surface. Some of the stamp sets I bought included a thin, flat piece of foam that provides a suitable surface for stamping on; if your stamp set happens to have this, it’s the best surface to work on top of. Not all stamp sets have this – so if yours doesn’t include a small foam mat, then just feel free to use any ordinary craft mat you might happen to have on hand. You could also experiment with using a mouse pad or similar surface that has some flexibility. I tend to get the best results when I stamp on top of a surface that flexes a bit.
You take your card, scrapbook layout, piece of paper or other surface to be stamped and you place it on top of your craft mat or work surface. Then you grab the acrylic block with the stamp on it and apply ink to the stamp. You can do this by rubbing the stamp’s surface directly on an ink pad or by using a brayer to apply ink to the stamp.
Then you take the block and “eyeball” the position where you want to stamp the image. Then when you’ve made up your mind where you want the stamped image to go, you stamp the image firmly onto your paper or other surface.
That’s it! That’s how to use clear stamps.
Acrylic Blocks for Clear Stamps
Acrylic stamping blocks come in different shapes and sizes. Some are square and some are longer rectangle shapes. If you do a lot of stamping, you’ll want to have multiple options for sizes and shapes on hand – bigger blocks for bigger stamps and smaller blocks for smaller stamps. At the time you select the stamp to use for stamping, you’ll also want to choose which of your stamping blocks is best suited for use with that particular stamp.
Here you can see a picture of my favorite stamping block; this is how it looked when it was brand new. It has accumulated some wear and tear since I originally took this picture, but it still looks pretty good overall. You can get a LOT of use out of each stamping block you buy, so think of them as a long-term investment in your crafting.
Clear Stamps for Crafting: What Crafts Can You Use Clear Stamps for?
If you do a lot of card making, clear stamps are likely to be an excellent investment for you.
In particular, you’ll want to buy or borrow at least one set of alphabet letter stamps and one multipurpose set of sentiment stamps to use on your handmade cards. If you’re a beginner to card making, I’d recommend buying three stamp sets — one alphabet letter set, one set of sentiment stamps, and one set that includes a simple, pretty floral image or other similar multi-purpose image.
In addition to the stamps, you’d want to consider buying one or more ink pads. For these, I’d recommend sticking with either pigment ink or dye ink and avoiding solvent ink like Stazon. Pigment ink is my personal favorite, but I also use dye inks like Distress ink pads.
After your supplies arrive, I challenge you to just test out how many cards you can make with just those 3 sets. You’ll quickly see that you don’t need huge numbers of stamps to be successful with card making; it’s possible to make zillions of cards with just a few well-chosen stamps. Of course, you can always buy more; it’s nice to have lots of choices for stamps to work with, but you might find that you end up using the same few stamps over and over again.
For example, as you can see from the gallery above, I get a huge amount of mileage out of just one flower stamp. I’ve used that simple flower to make hundreds of cards, and I’ll probably use it to make hundreds more in the future. If a stamp set seems expensive to you, just compare it against the money you’d spend buying greeting cards to see if it’s a good purchase. If you’d make just one or two cards with that set, it probably isn’t worth the investment; but if you’d make dozens or hundreds of cards with it, you’ll know that it’s going to pay for itself easily.
Collages and Mixed Media Art
You might or might not want to use stamped images in collage and mixed media art. I actually tend to avoid it, because I sell the art I make, and legal issues make it complicated to figure out whether you’re legally allowed to sell artwork you make with rubber stamped images. Before selling any art that includes stamped images, it’s wise to check with the manufacturer regarding their policies on selling art using their stamps.
You can actually use clear stamps to create your own calendars and planners, if you want to. Or you can buy existing calendars and planners and then use your clear stamps to enhance the entries you write in your planner or calendar.
If you keep a bullet journal, clear stamps give you an edge with creating artwork or text to put in it.
If you keep an art journal, there are many possible approaches to creating the imagery you’ll feature in it. If you’re not inclined to sketch or draw every image you include, clear stamps can give you a ready source of images and text to consider including.
Clear stamps are my favorite solution to use for scrapbook journaling blocks. These are the types of clear stamps I reach for most frequently when scrapbooking, but I also use alphabet letter stamps to create many of my page titles. I occasionally also use sentiment stamps on my scrapbooking layouts and mini album pages.
There are many interesting travel-themed clear stamp sets that will give you imagery and sentiments suitable for using in travel journals.
Coordinating Sets of Clear Stamps and Dies
As of 2021, one of the hottest paper craft trends is coordinating sets of clear stamps and dies. You can use these sets to create lovely images and then easily cut them out without having to resort to using old-school scissors.
Clear Stamps Storage
Typically, clear stamps come packaged with a backing sheet. You should save this backing sheet for permanently storing your clear stamps on.
Otherwise, the packaging your clear stamps come in might or might not be worthy of saving to use for long-term clear stamp storage. Some clear stamps come packaged in hard plastic that is ideal for long-term storage. Others come packaged in clamshells that don’t hold up well over time. In that case, you might wish to use another solution for storing them. Old-school CD cases work well for storing clear stamps; if you store yours in CD cases, you can also get yourself a CD-rack like the ones people used to use for storing their music CDs.
I store all my clear stamps in larger Artbin organizers along with my old-school wood-mounted stamps. Here’s a picture showing what one of my organizers looks like:
How to Clean Clear Stamps
You’ll want to clean your stamps promptly after each use to avoid having them become stained and also to avoid allowing dust or grime to accumulate on them. Dust can prevent them from sticking to the stamping block, so it’s important to keep them ultra clean.
The method you’ll use for cleaning your stamps depends on the ink you’re using. Make a note of manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning both the ink and the stamps themselves. If you use a dye ink or other water-based ink, you may be able to use ordinary soap and water to clean your stamps.
I don’t recommend using Stazon ink with clear stamps, because the solvent-based and alcohol-based ink can cause the stamps to deteriorate with the passage of time. However, if you aren’t concerned about having the stamps for the long term, and you do decide to use Stazon ink with your clear stamps, you’d want to use Stazon’s recommended cleaner for cleaning your stamps with.
Are clear stamps better than rubber stamps?
Clear stamps and rubber stamps both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Images from rubber stamps tend to be sharper and cleaner than rubber stamps are – so in this regard, rubber stamps tend to be better than clear stamps.
Otherwise, clear stamps offer many advantages that you might prefer. Clear stamps tend to be cheaper, and they also tend to take up less space and be easier to store than old-fashioned wood-mounted rubber stamps.
These days, clear stamps also tend to be more widely available; many popular stamp manufacturers have discontinued their rubber stamp lines, but they are still offering clear stamps for sale. So if you’re looking for affordability, easy availability and easy storage solutions, you might agree that clear stamps are better than rubber stamps. It just depends on what your priorities are.
I personally use both sorts of stamps in my own arts and crafts, but I far prefer old-school rubber stamps. Because I live in a small space, I tend to keep greater numbers of clear stamp sets on hand, but I also still hang onto a few favorite old-school rubber stamps that I NEVER want to part with. I think both types of stamps are fantastic, and I highly recommend both kinds of stamps to you.
Where to Buy Clear Stamps
Wondering where’s the best place to buy clear stamps? I recommend the following online craft stores as being fantastic sources for buying clear stamps:
- Click here to shop for clear photopolymer stamps at Scrapbook.com.
- Click here to find clear stamps at A Cherry on Top Crafts.
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- Learn how to cut paper shapes, even if you don’t have a die cutter
- Check out scoring tools for paper.
So there you have it: Those are the most important basics you need to know about clear stamps. I hope you found this information enlightening, useful and inspiring. Happy stamping!
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Posted By: Amy Solovay
This page was last updated on 10-23-2021.