Lost Angeles Rubber Works Presents:
Rubber Stamps: What are These Things? An Introduction for the Clueless...

What are these things?
How are they used?
Crafts & Techniques
Mail/Altered Art
How to save money -- mount your own!
Online Resources
Other resources -- magazines, books, & CD-Roms (includes link to online bookstore!)
NEW! Samples & Demos

If you already are an experienced stamper, you have my permission to skip this rant. You might want to scan the text for interesting links, though.

Rubber stamps..the word brings to mind office supplies, right? Those metal self-inking stamps that say things like "ACCOUNT OVERDUE" and"PAID". Perhaps you didn't realize that the little wooden blocks at the local craft store with the pretty pictures on the top and the nice rubber mats on the bottom can be used to create art of your own (yes, there are people who don't realize those are rubber stamps!).

Basically, rubber stamps are a tool to make repeated images on any printable surface. The rubber die is the part that prints, and is usually mounted on a wooden block for ease of handling, with a cushion in between to even out the pressure and make the stamp print better.

Most stamps (including the ones you can buy from our catalog) are "vulcanized". This is the culmination of a rather lengthy process. Artwork that eventually becomes stamps is pasted up on a board and the design is then engraved onto a metal plate; on this plate, the printing areas stick out and non-printing areas are recessed; unfortunately rubber stamps can't be made directly from the engraving since the printing surfaces will be reversed! The engraved plate is therefore placed in a vulcanizer with a matrix board, where they are squeezed together under high heat and pressure. The resulting matrix is then placed in the vulcanizer again, this time with a sheet of raw gum rubber, which is forced into the matrix by the pressure and cured (or "cooked") by the heat. Voila! A sheet of rubber dies! The matrix can be used over and over again to press hundreds of stamps. The resulting dies are cut apart and mounted for use.

If you are handy with knives and linoleum cutters, you can make your own stamps out of carved erasers (similiar idea as the potato prints you made in elementary school). This is a little too involved to get into here, but you can check out the zine, Eraser Carver's Quarterly, or go to Tabloid Trash for tips and samples. Rusty Clark, the creator of Tabloid Trash, claims to be an "entirely unskilled artist type". However, she carves terrific designs! We also have some designs based on eraser carvings.

Another material to make stamps out of is clear photopolymer. Early photopolymer used to have such faults as being sticky and incompatible with some inks, but newer photopolymer resins have pretty much solved the problem. They are great for one-off custom stamps with your own, or non-copyrighted vintage artwork! You can get an "Art Stamp Maker" with all the supplies and instructions you need; for more details on how to use and purchase one, check out this page on our site.

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Stamps are a fun way to create art because you don't have to know how to draw, and even if you do, they can save you time. Instead of spending an hour painstakingly outlining and shading a horse's head, you can just ink up a stamp and whack out the image in two seconds.

You can start with a few stamps, a couple of inkpads and/or markers and just have some casual fun stamping. Be warned, however; rubber stamping is so much fun it can become addictive! Some people become so deeply involved their collections contain thousands of stamps, as well as almost every color of dye and pigment inkpads and inks available; several dozen different varieties, colors and sizes of paper and cardstock; and almost every accessory imaginable, including embellishments, confetti, heat guns for embossing, stamp positioners, envelope templates, fabric inks, and shrink plastic. Don't say you weren't warned.

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Crafts & Techniques
People use rubber stamps for decoration and personal expression. You can, of course, use them to make elaborate greeting cards, but you aren't limited to stamping only on paper. You can stamp pottery, wood, T-shirts, shower curtains, automobiles, food, your kids' good report cards, your photo and scrapbook albums, even your own flesh (check out our temporary tattoo supplies!); basically, anything that doesn't move fast enough to evade you. You can combine stamped images with other things: integrate stampings in a collage, add texture with thermal embossing or flocking, add depth with cutout images on poster tape, combine different stamped images with masking...actually, a description of the techniques available would fill several books. Check out your library or bookstore; we now have a terrific online bookstore with well over a hundred titles.

You can find some stamping-related supplies online; Fiskars sells a lot of terrific scissors (including zigzag and other patterns), paper punches, and rotary cutters as well as other supplies. The Scrapbooking Idea Network has info and links on how to make scrapbooks and memory albums (many people use rubberstamps to decorate them). Clearsnap sells pigment and dye-based inkpads as well as other supplies, including glitter glue and embossing powder. We now carry a selection of their ink pads and embossing supplies. Fascinating Folds sells papers and related supplies, including paper to stamp on and make cards with; they also have books, including how-to's on origami folding. Also check out what we have; we have a nice selection of cards for stamping, as well as precut pop-up cards from Neato Stuff.

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Mail Art/Altered Art
Don't be surprised if you walk into the local Museum of Modern Art and spot a print or drawing with a rubber stamped image there. The Dadaists (including Marcel Duchamp) were particularly fond of using unexpected stamped images in their works, and Mail Art is a present-day continuation of this aesthetic. Mail Art is egalitarian in nature; it bypasses the closed walls of the gallery and brings art out where anyone can participate. There are no rules and no limits, no value judgments on whether you are a "good" or a "bad" artist according to today's fads. If you would like to learn more about Mail Art, go to Global Mail's WWW Listings. It contains web links for mail art calls, zines, neat stuff, and mail artists. You can also subscribe to the latest Global Mail, which is a zine containing tons of contact information on mail art swaps and exhibits. There's also mail art information and some other neat stuff at the Lime Green Evolution World of Art. Visit this site! Another terrific mail art site to visit is Dragonfly Dream. Go visit -- you won't be disappointed! Mail Art in Luxembourg has galleries showcasing mail art, mail art calls, and links to other mail art related sites. Joachim's Website has links and info on mail art projects as well as a brief history of Mail Art. It has now become the rage to "alter" ordinary items like books, CDs, and more to make them a personal art expression! One site for inspiration is Altered Arts.

A couple of zines focusing on mail art have recently started up. MailBox is more general and contains interviews as well as samples of mail art. 1843 Rubber Art consists of reproductions of contributors' rubberstamped postcards, some of which are extremely cool. You can check out the card of the month at 1843 Rubber Art's web site. Some of LARW's stamps have been spotted in its pages! Ker-Chunk! calls itself a rubber stamping e-zine, and has lists of sales, stamp conventions, and California rubberstamp stores. There's even an electronic postcard shop so you can send virtual rubberstamped postcards to your online friends!

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Already hooked? How to save money!
Perhaps you have been stamping for some time. You might even have a couple hundred or so stamps sitting around, and are starting to wonder if there's a cheaper way to do this. There is -- buy unmounted! If you don't already know, an unmounted stamp is just the rubber die sans wood. We sell all our designs unmounted at half the price.

Obviously, the stamps have to be mounted prior to use (unmounted dies tend to be too floppy and make a terrible impression if you aren't careful - although you can put unmounted stamps and polymer clay through a pasta machine, or use them on curved surfaces).There are several ways to mount them, including the traditional method; permanently mounted to wood. Turtle Press has clear, detailed step-by-step instructions on how to mount on wood. You can buy wood mounts and cushions from Creative Images. Even if you've decided to mount your stamps another way, some of the instructions may still be applicable. Some people mount their stamps on acrylic blocks or boxes; the advantage is that the mount is transparent, making it easier to more precisely position the image.

Stamps do not have to be permanently affixed to their mounts. Advantages of using temporary mounting systems include the need to buy only a few different-sized mounts, and the ability to store dies more compactly. There are several different temporary mounting systems available. Foam tape, tacky adhesive, or vinyl cling sheets can be used to attach dies to acrylic mounts and the unmounted dies stored in plastic pages in notebooks or in "magnetic" photo albums. Dies can also be cemented to magnetic strips or sheets and mounted on small metal tins or transparent "Clearsnap" mounts ( Clearsnap sells "Circustamps" kits containing their mounts at rubberstamp stores, and also may have them available at rubber stamp conventions). The dies can be attached to metal cookie tins when not in use, and stacked horizontally or vertically. If you want the world to know how addicted you are to rubber, they can stick to your refrigerator or filing cabinet as well. HALOS is another option; in this method, the dies are mounted on velcro-type "loop" tape and attach to mounts covered with "hook" tape. Several dies can be used at once. The dies can be stored anywhere on strips of hook tape; in folders, in notebooks, even on the wall. We now sell HALOS mounts and supplies.

For more detailed information on mounting methods, check out the Nov/Dec '96 Rubberstampmadness as well as the August and September '96 issues of Vamp Stamp News. The Sept/Oct '95 Rubberstampmadness also contains a detailed article on the HALOS method by Sheryl Porter. Some of the information here came from these sources.

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Online Resources
The Craft Vendor Mall at Cyberstampers is an online "mall" of rubberstamping, scrapbooking, and other crafts vendors.. everything in one place! They hold three online "conventions" a year with special events.

A Monthly Rubber Stamps Club features monthly sales from many different vendors, all at 25% off. Specials change every month! YouDesignIt is another good site, with links to all sorts of rubberstamp-related and scrapbook sites, online art galleries, message boards, etc.

Dragonhome's Rubber Stamping Page is the Grand Central Station for cyberstampers! It contains not only extensive links to rubberstamping pages, but also links to tips & technique pages. There are also listings of rubber stamp conventions, bulletin boards, and companies that sell unmounted and grab bags. The "Angel List" of companies (like Lost Angeles) that place minimal restrictions on your use of their stamps to create resalable artwork is also here.

Gingerwood Enterprises, another huge site, has all kinds of links (very extensive!) and tips & techniques for rubberstampers. There is also a low-volume email list. You can join and exchange rubberstamping ideas or make new online friends.

Barbie Boops Rubberstamping is another nice links site, with her favorite links, techniques, swaps, and friends.

Can you access Usenet? The rec.crafts.rubberstamps newsgroup has recently been formed. If your server doesn't carry it yet, ask your system administrator to subscribe to it! Otherwise, you can access it on the web via Deja News (now Google).

If you are accessing the Internet from an online service, check out what your service offers its members. AOL, for example, has a crafts chat room as well as an extensive list of rubberstamping bulletin boards. There are bulletin boards on the Web as well; check out the boards at Stampin' and Scrappin'.

Rubber Trouble is a little bit of everything -- they have reviews of rubber stamp web sites, links, books, and projects. Well worth a visit!

Etcetera is a biweekly online magazine for crafters; many of the articles are of interest to rubberstampers. All the old issues are available with a click of the mouse.

Want to be linked up to more pages of rubberstamping companies and rubber-related sites?Silver Fox Stamps' Rubber Stamp Web Sites, the Scrapbooking Wizard Website Directory, and John Mabunga's Rubber Stamping Page, among others, have zillions of links. So many, in fact, you could spend all your spare time browsing the Web and have no time left for stamping. ;-)

If you've just created some mail art and need more information on sending it, the U.S. Post Office has a web page, with extensive information on domestic and international postage rates, as well as shipping guidelines. You'll be surprised at what can go through the mail!

There are many more rubberstamping and related sites on the Net -- and more are being created everyday! You might want to look around, using Yahoo, Excite, or your favorite search engine.

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Other Resources
Periodicals for stampers include such classics as Rubberstampmadness, Vamp Stamp News, and the late National Stampagraphic. New magazines have also popped up, such as The Rubber Stamper. Newsletters are also available. They may be a one-person effort, created on someone's laser printer or pasted up at Kinko's, and may be available only irregularly. Some are published by local rubber stamp clubs. To find out about newsletters and/or clubs, try checking the classifieds of the above mentioned stamping periodicals.

Stamps du Jour is a (Mac and PC) CD-Rom publication . You can think of it almost as a rubberstamping magazine on a CD; it contains full-color card and gift samples, patterns, and instructions; listings of RS manufacturers, retailers, and products; also information on conventions and contests. There are even recipes! Check their web site for a sample. You can buy the issues from us along with your stamp order! Stamps du Jour has recently been put on hiatus, and the first and second issues are now collector's items. We will continue to sell them until we run out.

Check the crafts section of your bookstore for books on rubber stamps and stamping. Amazon.com carries a lot of excellent titles. In association with Amazon.com Books, we have set up an extensive bookstore of rubber stamping and related titles. We now have well over a hundred titles, with descriptions, and you can follow the links to purchase directly from Amazon.com. Most of the books are offered at a 20% discount -- some even 30% off!

If you were to purchase only one rubber stamping book, though, Grace Taormina's The Complete Guide to Rubber Stamping is an excellent new book, highly recommended. It's beautifully laid out and illustrated with full-color photographs. She covers the various materials and tools used, briefly explains useful art concepts such as composition and color theory, and demonstrates basic stamping techniques like inking, embossing, and masking. More than half of the book is devoted to a variety of projects with detailed, step-by-step instructions, showing you how to make stamped gift wrap, quilts, jewlery boxes, 3-D pictures, etc. Remember, you don't have to do the projects exactly as illustrated; use them to stimulate your creativity, and use different materials and stamps.

There are also some good books that are either self-published or otherwise unavailable in bookstores; you can often find them in ads in rubberstamping magazines. Tom Nelson's Perfect Pop-Up: Greeting Cards the Easy Way and Julie Hagan Bloch's Carving Stamps (on eraser carving) are two such that I recommend. We also sell a small booklet on making pop-up cards with ready-made card sets from Neato Stuff; Neato Stuff's Pop Out Card Idea Booklet by Darla Leanne Bayer.

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Samples & Demos
Still not sure what you can do with rubber stamps? Would you like to jump-start your creativity by viewing card and other project samples? Visit our gallery page!

Hopefully, this overview has been enlightening. Now let's go look at some of Lost Angeles' designs!

Home | Browse Image List | Rubberstamping Bookstore | Card & Stuff Samples | Ordering Info

Designs used to illustrate this page are available from us - click on the following links to order. 1512-B, 1718-B, 318-C, 405-C, 914-C, 1313-C, 1903-C, 810-E. If you want to email, please use the item numbers! For more information, please select the button for our Ordering Info page.

Last updated (partially) on 1/28/10. If you find any incorrect or outdated links, please email us.