Using Photo Style Stamps

Many of Oxford Impressions stamps are made by digitally adapting photographs for stamping.  These stamps can make amazingly clear photo-like imprints with a little advanced planning.  Here are some tips to help you make the right decisions when choosing appropriate inks and papers.

1. Cushion the image - When using very detailed stamps, cushion of some type is a necessity. We strongly advise permanently adhering some type of cushion to the rubber image. Oxford Impressions recommends the Original Cling Mounting Foam System. If you choose not to cushion the image then you must cushion the stamping surface.  A thick computer mouse pad works well or a large pad of newsprint will do.  To get the best impression, cushion must enter the stamping equation. 

2. Trim image correctly - All of Oxford Impressions stamps are unmounted and must be trimmed. For detailed mounting instructions see "Mounting your Unmounted Stamps".  The important thing to remember when trimming unmounted stamps is not to undercut the image.  Cut with the blade of the scissors straight up and down or with the bottom blade angled slightly away from the image. Cut very close to the image, following its contours. Good, sharp scissors will make a big difference when cutting out stamps. Oxford Impressions recommends KAI brand ergonomic scissors. 
** Excess rubber will pick up ink on the edge and leave a shadow line around your stamped image.   If trimming a word stamp, follow the general shape of the letters.  Do not cut it square. 

3. Choose the right paper
Very detailed stamps usually look best stamped on glossy or matte coated paper. Papers with even a slight texture will rob the image of detail and should not be used. Papers with high absorbency, such as plain copy paper, usually do not work well.

Unfortunately, choosing glossy paper will not always insure the best image.  Stamps with a large area of solid color will form a vacuum and when the stamp is pulled away, the ink will puddle on the paper.  The glossy paper will not be able to absorb the large amount of ink evenly.

4. Choose the right ink - The best inks to use for photo-adapted stamps are dye inks of medium wetness.  An overly juicy ink will fill the fine lines of the stamps and cause a speckled appearance when stamped. However, juicy inks can be used with good results when applied with a brayer. Most pigment inks are too thick and will clog the fine lines of the stamp.  Embossing highly detailed images is not recommended. The line details are too fine and the image will blur together.

Oxford Impressions recommends Stewart Superior brand Memories Dye inks and Archival Brand Inks by Ranger Industries. If ink pads are new, apply ink with a brayer.

5. Ink the stamp properly - Inking stamps rubber side up will help to ensure even ink coverage. Make sure the stamp is lint free! Use tape if necessary to clean off all stray bits of material. Tap the ink pad firmly on the upturned rubber, starting at one side of the image and working to the other side. Look at the image to make sure all surfaces appear wet with ink and tap over any surface that appears a bit dry. If the ink is beading up on the stamp surface, either the die is over-inked or, if it is a new stamp, there is residual releasing agent on the rubber from the manufacturing process. In any case, clean the stamp and begin again. If an even coating of ink cannot be achieved, then apply the ink with a brayer.

When a photo-style stamp is properly inked, one should clearly be able to see the "picture" image on the rubber. What one sees on the rubber is what one gets on the paper. If there are spots and blobs of ink on the stamp surface, they will show up on the paper when the image is stamped.
6. Stamp the image properly - Once the stamp has been inked, hold the block by the edges.  Keep the stamp parallel to the paper and lower it flat so that all surfaces touch at the same time. Avoid having one edge of the stamp touch first and rocking the rest of the image down.  It is not necessary to "slam" the stamp to the paper.  Place the stamp gently on the paper and then press firmly. If the stamp is large, use the fingers of the other hand to press in the middle of the stamp block. Do not wiggle or rock the stamp as this will blur the impression. To lift the stamp, lightly hold the paper surface and pick the stamp straight up. Let stamped image dry thoroughly before touching. Oxford Impressions recommends heat setting all inks that have been used on glossy or matte finish paper.

To learn about common photo-stamp errors, go to Photo Stamp Clinic in the Tutorials Section of the website.