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What is Rubber Stamping?

Lorna W.
Lorna W.

Do you remember the rubber stamps teachers used to mark your papers with words of encouragement like "Great job!"? Rubber stamping has become more sophisticated, but you can still enjoy it just as much.

Rubber stamping is used mainly for paper crafts, making decorations, cards, invitations, gift tags, scrapbooking and so on. But as with other crafts, potential surfaces to be stamped are only limited by your imagination.

Rubber stamps are used for many crafts.
Rubber stamps are used for many crafts.

The rubber stamps themselves are actually only partially rubber. The design that will be stamped onto surfaces is imprinted into the rubber, with raised surfaces providing the outline of the image. The rubber is attached to a base that makes it easy to hold. On all but the lowest quality stamps, there is a thin layer of foam between the rubber and the base so that the base will not touch the surface and leave a mark when the stamp is used. Rubber stamp bases are commonly made of wood, but plastic and foam are also used. A sticker of the stamp image is usually placed on top of the base so that you can clearly identify the stamp you want to use. Rubber stamps vary in size from a single heart or star that is half an inch (1 cm) wide to complex invitation outlines or floral scenes that could fill an entire sheet of paper.

Stampers usually use inkpads to apply color to their rubber stamps. Inkpads can come in a single color or be segmented so that two or more colors appear on the same pad. There are also different styles of ink, ranging from the general-purpose industrial black inkpads that a library would use to stamp books to pads that are basically fine sponges soaked in paint. The more paint-like inks result in higher-quality images, but they also require careful use, as they're more likely to smear when stamping. Some stampers forgo inks in favor of markers that they apply directly to the stamp for precise coloring.

Stampers usually aren't content with printing a single image on a piece of paper. They might combine and layer multiple stamped images to create a larger picture or theme. Frequently, they will color the outlined image that a rubber stamp provides. Sometimes, they will add glitter to the ink before it dries, given the outline a shine. Embossing is also a popular option. To emboss a stamped image, embossing powder is sprinkled on wet ink and then heat is applied, causing the areas with embossing powder to become slightly raised and shiny. Another embellishment option is hand-drawing additional details to an image.

Rubber stamping is a diverse and open-ended craft. Whether you want to decorate a single letter or create your own greeting cards and gift bags, consider giving rubber stamping a try.

Discussion Comments


I have phototectronic plates that I would like to make into rubber stamps. Is it difficult to do. I cannot find the rubber for this process anywhere.

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    • Rubber stamps are used for many crafts.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Rubber stamps are used for many crafts.