Mounting Unmounted Stamps

There are many reasons to buy unmounted rubber stamps over traditional wood mounted rubber stamps. 

Why unmounted stamps are a smart choice

1. Cost – One can buy a sheet of 20 stamps for the price of two or three wood mounted stamps.

2. Storage – Hundreds of unmounted stamps can be stored in a small space. Unmounted stamps can be stored in binders on one shelf. A single book of stamps is easy to transport when stamping away from home.

3. Ease of use – Unmounted stamps are traditionally used with acrylic block systems. Because the block is clear, the stamper can see exactly where an image will stamp every time! There is no need to use a stamp positioner. No need to guess!

Trimming the Die

Regardless of the choice of mounting system, most rubber dies need to be trimmed before use. Using sharp, small-tipped scissors, carefully trim away excess rubber. Cut close to the image being careful not to cut into it. Try to keep the scissors straight up and down or tilted very slightly away from the underside of the rubber. Do not angle the blade of the scissors under the bottom of the image. If the die is undercut, there will not be sufficient support to allow the image to make a good impression. When cutting, follow the contours of the image or word. Do not cut in a squared shape. Use the tips of the scissors to nip out any little corners of excess rubber. The least little bit of extra rubber can pick up ink and cause unsightly shadows around the stamped image.

** KAI brand scissors are highly recommended. 

Choosing the Cushion

There are several cushion choices available to rubber stampers. Since Oxford Impressions stamps are highly detailed, we recommend all of our images be mounted with cushion to get the best results. The most common cushions are Easy Mount Cling foam, Adhesive foam cushion, and traditional red rubber. Oxford Impressions recommends the Easy Mount Cling foam made for use with acrylic blocks.

Easy Mount Cling Foam - Easy Mount lives up to its name. It is very simple to use. Peel off the parchment paper to reveal the extremely sticky surface of the foam. Lay the unmounted stamp sheet on the sticky surface. Start at the top edge of the stamp plate and roll it down to the surface of the foam so there are no bubbles or wrinkles between the stamps and the foam.

Once the stamps are in place, use sharp scissors to cut through all layers and trim the stamp. Cutting through the thick layer takes slightly more effort than cutting though the rubber alone. Be sure to keep the cutting blade of the scissors straight up and down or angle the bottom blade slightly away from the stamp. Do NOT undercut the image. If the foam is cut out from under the rubber, there will be no support of the die. Getting a good, clean image will be much more difficult. 

** If the stamps have intricate edges that require close cutting, trim the dies first and lay them on the sticky side of the foam. If the stamps are positioned really close together on the rubber sheet, it is also a good idea to cut the stamps out first and then apply to foam. Trim through the foam around the die. Be sure not to undercut the image. Scissors can get gummed up from trimming the foam. A little Goo Gone on a cotton ball will clean the gunk off the scissor blades. You can also rub the scissor edge along an embossing pad BEFORE cutting the sticky foam to make the cutting easier.

When each stamp is closely trimmed, remove the slick paper backing to expose the vinyl back of the foam. The stamp is now ready for use. The cling side will stick to any acrylic block. Stamp as usual. The stamp will not slip around on the block. Clean the die while it is still stuck to the block. This will help protect the cling surface. Avoid getting any alcohol-based product on the foam as it may cause damage. The foam backed die will easily peel off the acrylic block for storage.

Red Rubber Cushion – take trimmed dies and lay them out on the cushion. Place the stamps so they fit fairly close together to prevent waste. Trace around the die with a ball point pen or permanent marker. Remove dies from the cushion and turn them face down. Apply a thin coat of rubber cement to the back of the dies. Set them aside and apply a thin coat of rubber cement to the traced areas on the cushion. Let both dry for about 15 minutes before placing the die back into position on the cushion. The die can only be removed if lifted immediately since a strong bond occurs within seconds. Press the die and cushion together. Using sharp scissors, trim the cushion around the mounted die. While the cushion does not have to be trimmed as close as the die, it is still very important not to undercut the cushion. Keep the scissor blades straight up and down when cutting.

Adhesive foam cushions – Place the rubber dies on top of the paper covering the sticky adhesive and get a rough idea of the amount of foam needed. Mark the area off on the paper. Without removing the paper, cut off the amount of foam needed to mount the dies. It is much easier to cut through the paper than to work scissors into the adhesive. Peel the paper off the section that is to be used and press the dies firmly to the cushion. Trim around the mounted die being careful not to undercut. Use a cheap pair of scissors for adhesive foam cutting as the adhesive will really gum up the blades. Some of the mess can also be avoided by wiping the blades of the scissors against an embossing ink or resist ink pad before cutting. It will slightly coat the blades. Scissors that have been gunked up with adhesive can be easily cleaned by rubbing the blades with a cotton ball soaked with Goo Gone.

Mounting the image 

Unmounted dies give one the flexibility of choosing a temporary or permanent mounting system. 

Acrylic Blocks – Acrylic blocks are made for use as a temporary mounting system. Cushioned dies are applied in a variety of ways to the acrylic block for stamping. They are then removed for storage. Cling foam mounted dies do not need any type of additional adhesive. The cling makes dies stick to the block. When using foam or traditional red rubber cushion, there are a couple of options. One can use double-sided tape to temporarily mount the cushioned dies to acrylic blocks or one can apply a thin coat of Aleene’s Tack it Over and Over glue to the back of the cushioned die. The Tack it glue needs to dry 24 hours before use, but will leave a permanently tacky surface to the back of the stamp. The dies can be peeled from the blocks over and over. Most people store their tacky-backed dies to page protectors with cardstock inside.

Wood Mounting – If the dies are cushioned with double sticky foam, peel the back off the foam mount and stick to the wood’s surface. If the dies are mounted with red rubber cushion, rubber cement will form a good bond with the wood. Coat both the die and the area on the wood block where it should be placed. Let dry 15 minutes, then stick the die to the wood.