When stamping an image on your paper, use an old mouse pad beneath the paper. It is soft enough to have a bit of give which gives you a better image.
Color your stamps with crayola markers (or any water-based markers), give it a huff with your breath to moisten and stamp. You can get some really beautiful results with very inexpensive markers.
Punch or cut out shapes from fun foam and glue to cardboard or foam core. You can make wonderful background stamps for pennies.
Use styrofoam packaging as stamps. I have a piece of styrofoam which came from a display at Dollar General. The display was empty and I offered to purchase the styrofoam insert. They gave it to me since the display comes with the product in it. They had no use for an empty display. Another foam stamp option is the weird shapes from electronics and computer parts. I have some really interesting packaging left from my husbands order of computer pieces. I attached to chipboard from a cereal box and have huge background stamps.
Make your own ink pad re-fills.
Purchase only a couple full-sized ink pads. You will pay less for the mini-ink pads and they take up less space. I have a couple black stamp pads and a brown stamp pad which I use for most of my outline stamping. I color the image with watercolor pencils, colored pencils, markers, etc. once the outline is stamped onto the paper, or onto the stamp itself. Purchase the re-inkers when you buy the stamp pad. If these are colors you will be using all the time, it’s a good idea to have the ability to re-ink the pads before you run out.
Purchase stamps that are basic shapes you can turn into many things. For example, circles, ovals, squares and rectangles are basic shapes. Hearts, stars, flowers, tags, sentiments, alphabets, and numbers are basics too. You can make a tremendous amount of things with these few sets. They never go out of style and are always useful in your art practice. Get the basics in different sizes and increase your options.
Make a DIY stamp cleaner from a travel baby wipe container. I found mine at Dollar Tree. They came in two colors, red with Elmo on it and blue with Cookie Monster on it. I covered the image with decorative contact paper. Use two paint pad edgers from the hardware store. They have metal hook edges, which you will have to cut off. Use doubled sided foam tape and attach one to each interior side of the box. Write Wet on one side and Dry on the other. Spritz the wet side with stamp cleaner, rub the inked stamp on it then rub the cleaned stamp on the dry side. The stamp is ready to go next time. Stamp Cleaner Solution: 1 part Simple Green to 9 parts water for rubber stamps. For clear stamps use baby shampoo and water. Another brilliant DIY from Lindsay the Frugal Crafter.
Store your clear stamp sets in page protectors in a three ring binder. They store on a book shelf and are easy to page through to find the image you want. When your collection grows, label the 3 ring binders to indicate what’s in them. For example: nature, sentiments, shapes, flowers, birthday, holidays, etc.
Use the small alphabet stamps you find at Michael’s and Walmart (for a buck usually) as one stamp. Just wrap them with tape and use them as background stamps. Also, before you cut them apart, ink them up and stamp the interior of the box they came in. Believe me, you will never be sorry you did this. It makes putting them back in the box so much easier. These little alphabet stamps are handy for a lot of things. I love mine.
Some more things you can do with stamps:
- Make your own designed tissue papers for art journaling. Use a waterproof-ink stamp pad and stamp images and designs on tissue paper. Use as you would any other decorative tissue paper.
- Use the mini-alphabet stamps to make word tiles. Just roll out the clay or dough and stamp the words into it. Cut into shapes and let dry or bake (depending on your clay). You can also make “type-writer keys”, jewelry, embellishments of all sorts, ornaments, tags, etc. this way. You can do this with other stamps too. If you have a poinsettia flower, for example, stamp the image onto salt dough (or clay) and bake. Paint as desired and dip into varnish. Let hang as it dries. Now you have a beautiful ornament for your tree.
- Use stamps to make your own paper. Stamp on plain or patterned papers, craft paper, book pages, any type of paper you have. I like to stamp plain images and color them with colored pencils, markers or watercolor pencils.
- Stamp your images, color and cut out for unique die cuts and embellishments. Use the negative space left from your cut out image as a stencil. Stamp image onto cereal box chipboard and cut out for a unique art journal cover or tag book.
- Use background stamps on art journal pages for all over designs. Use on plain white paper rolls or craft paper rolls and make your own wrapping paper. You can stamp with ink, watercolor paint or acrylic paints too. Just make sure you clean your stamps well afterward.
- Use heat set dye-based ink (or embossing ink) and embossing powder for really cool raised designs. You need a heat gun for this technique. (Refill your embossing ink pad with glycerine. I find mine at Walmart in the pharmacy dept. Also, use 4 oz. of distilled water with a teaspoon of glycerine in a spray bottle and it will refresh your dye-based ink pads.)
- Use permanent ink and stamp images and sentiments on fabric. I have a burlap tote which is begging for some French words and the Eiffel Tower.
- Use a stamped image for making color swatches for all your media. If you have a fairly simple image, say an umbrella, cupcake, or a hot air balloon, use the sections for your color charts. These are adorable and also very useful for your art practice. Punch paper with a three-hole punch and keep in a three ring binder. You will have accurate color charts of all your media.
- Stamp sentiments on ribbon for great embellishments.
- Use stamps to make labels for all your storage. Pretty and practical.
- Use stamps to make cards for jewelry displays. I used frame stamps to make cards for my earrings.
- Use stamps to make your own business cards and stationary.
There are many, many things you can do with stamps. If you are just starting out I recommend the basics first. I don’t have many of them. I don’t have very many stamps at all, really, but I was given most of mine or bought them second hand. I plan to expand my collection by purchasing the basics as funds allow.
Wood backed stamps take up a lot of room and are more expensive. You can use a second-hand store purchase of Jenga blocks for mounting your stamps if desired. Rubber stamps and clear stamps can be stored in page protectors and three ring binders. And they cost a lot less. You need a clear acrylic block to use them if you want a complete image, but I often use my larger ones without it. I just stamp part of the image as a background on my art journal pages, sort of rolling the stamp onto the page.