Basic stamping starter kit

If you’re new to this, I thought I would start by what I would call a basic starter kit for stamping.  It can seem daunting to try something new, but here’s what I would recommend you get.

Clear acrylic blocks in a variety of sizes.  If you’re pushed for money, and really don’t have the means, you can use CD cases, but they bend more than acrylic blocks, and if you’re using small stamps it’s incredibly fiddly.

Stamps.  I know it seems obvious, but stamps are handy.  There are lots of different kinds out there, I personally am not a fan of the kind mounted on wooden blocks, purely because they’re awful for storing if you have more than a few.  Clear polymer kind of stamps are great for a starter, they’ve got a little give in them, so they’re good for getting a crisp image, the rubber kind are brilliant, but when you’re learning how much pressure to use, it can be a little more difficult with those.

Ink pads.  Depending on what you’re intending to colour the stamps with, depends on what kind you need.  If using alcohol pens like Pro-Markers, Spectrum Noir pens, or Copic pens, you will need to stamp using a water based ink, such as Versacraft (I like the 1″ pads, cheap and it doesn’t feel horrid if you have them in lots of colours).  If colouring with water-based pens such as Pro-marker Aqua, Spectum Noir Aqua, or just watercolour paint, then you’ll want to stamp with something alcohol based like Staz-On.  Be aware that if you plan to use Staz-On I would recommend buying their cleaner too, because a clean stamp is a happy stamp!  I can be messy, but my stamps are always clean.

Good quality card.  If you want a nice stamped image, you need a good card.  I like a very smooth surface, and around 320 gsm.  It takes pens well, is thick enough to feel weighty.

Mirror card/coloured card, for matting and layering.  If this term seems scary, it’s not.  It’s creating a base for your stamped image, using colours that compliment, or shiny card showing a couple of mm around the edge.  It makes your images stand out.

Good glue.  I am not a fan of school stick kinds of glue.  You want to have a card that is solidly mounted, so that means decent double sided tape and good glue.  I tend to use the permanent kind of double sided (red backing paper) and I am a fan of Pinflair glue.  It’s brilliant for using blobs to make Decoupage raised, or for using smaller amounts to stick, and it’s silicon free. It’s available from a number of places. If you can also stretch to a Sakura Glue pen, that’s fantastic for adding glitter to small places.

Self-healing craft mat. It keeps your work surface clean and neat, and if you like to use a craft knife, it’s ready for that too.  Available in most craft shops or online.  I have 2, one that is A4 sized, and one that is A3, but you can even get them in A1 if you so choose.  They’re cheap usually, so shop around.

Bone folders.  Again available everywhere, they are also cheap, but don’t think you don’t need one.  If you plan on making your own card blanks, or buying them, either way you will need a crisp edge, and the best way is a bone folder.  Unless you lose them they will last pretty much forever.

A guillotine. I prefer one with a circular blade, than one with a knife kind of blade.  I find the circular ones stay sharper for longer.  It doesn’t need to be a specific craft one, but there are good ones designed for craft which have different blades and that sort of thing.  I have 3 different ones, from one I purchased in a discount stationers which I use most often, and two specific craft ones that I use less often. Hoard?  Me?  Never!

If you want coloured images, something to colour them with.  There are many Youtube videos showing how to colour, but play around and see which you like.  I do things a bit back to front with Pro-Markers, they recommend you start light and head to dark, but I like doing it the other way around, that makes them easier to blend for me.  You don’t need to buy an entire kit, I get two or three at a time, and I try to wait until they are on offer unless there’s a specific project I need them for.  Collections build up quite fast, so I would suggest keeping a running list of colours as you buy.

I’m a fan of glittery things, so glitter is on my essential lists too.  I tend to purchase the nail art glitter, because it is usually cheaper.  If you do a search for super-fine craft glitter, then look for nail art glitter, compare the two.  I sometimes purchase it direct from China, it can take up to a month to arrive, but it’s often only a couple of pounds for a variety of colours.

With all these things, you can create wonderful things.  There are lot of other things you can purchase, like heat guns, Versamark ink (for adding embossing powder to stamped images, or brayering), embossing powders, die cutting machines, dies, embossing folders, the list really is endless, but this will get you started.  Other stuff can be put on birthday lists and all sorts of things like that.  I’ll start a post of stamps I like, and where to find them too, although I will always tell you when I show you what I’m working on.

Colouring in

If you’re a grown-up, or at the very least pretending to be one, you’ll have come across the trend of colouring books not designed for children.  You may have even purchased one or two, or received them as gifts.  Have you done any colouring in them yet?  If you have, what did you like?  What did you not like?  I was lucky to be ahead of trend, as I love to colour in, and although I had forgotten for a few years, I’ve loved getting back into it.  Colouring in stamped images is one of my favourite things.  Here’s one I’ve been working on.  I’ve deliberately kept it simple, as I am one of those people that tend to be a little overboard, so it feels good to dial it back once in a while.  Kind of like looking at show homes, which are all glass, mirror and chrome, and the kind of thing you can’t have when you have little fingers around the place, or big fingers!

You might recognise this as one of the images I stamped on my previous post.  It’s from another Hobby Art set (www.hobbyartstamps.com) and I used Letraset (now Winsor & Newton) Pro-Markers in cinnamon, satin, and cool aqua, with the silvery parts done using a Wink Of Stella (available from a lot of places and craft shops, I purchased from Amazon) pen in clear. You can’t see it too clearly but it was used to highlight the waves and the bears eyes and nose.  I never feel something is finished without a little bit of glitter, mica, or shine.

My creating

Today

As you can see from my picture, accidents happen.  Also I’m not patient, partly because I’m just not wired that way, and partly because I know I’m on a very strict time frame.  This is the wonderful stamp of the month set from HobbyArt (http://www.hobbyartstamps.com).  They do a wonderful thing, and once a month one of their sets is reduced, and comes with a project sheet.  I particularly like their stamps because they always come out wonderfully, and they’re perfect for beginners.

Today though, I was making what were supposed to be perfect leaves, and bears to colour in.  I was trying to line up the leaf stamps at the start, but I got a bit annoyed and started just randomly stamping kind of on top for the others, and because I was doing something I rarely do (taking the stamp to the ink, I prefer turning the block over and dabbing the ink onto the stamp) I accidentally flipped the ink pad onto the bears I already stamped.  Fiddlesticks!  Well, that’s not the word I used, it only had 4 letters and wasn’t polite for a lady.

This all goes to show why I never only stamp 1 image, although I did manage to make both of the ones I already stamped useless.  Yes, I could trim out the error, it wouldn’t be that difficult to make one usable, but then I wouldn’t have my back-up.  So that’s my first thing to teach you, always have a back-up stamped image.  Colouring can always go wrong, so make sure you’ve done 2, if you end up with the first one being perfect, even when you’re ready to mount it?  Brilliant!  If you don’t though, you won’t throw all of your toys out of the window, or stamp when you’re grumpy.  That never ends well.

In case you wanted to purchase these stamps, I’ve put the link to the website at the top.  I stamped the images in Vintage Sepia Versafine, and under the leaves are done in Pine Versacraft, although I am probably not going to use the leaves.  I’ll think on it.

First post

I’m not sure at the moment how much I am going to use this, but I do have things to share, so here will be the place to do it.

I plan to show my work, to tell you which craft companies I adore, and which products I like to use.  If I have had had items that aren’t as good, I’ll tell you that too, in the hopes I can stop others making purchasing errors.

I craft because I like making things.  I stamp because I cannot draw.  I’ve tried so much, and it caused me such pain because I can see in my head what I want to create, but there’s some sort of block between my head and my hands, because even with extensive help I can’t create what I want.  The inner perfectionist made me throw that away.  Add to that I have no patience, none, and drawing was not for me.

Don’t take up crafting because you think it will save money.  We all have dreams like that, but unless you’re super speedy, enjoy making 100 of the same card to sell, then you will not make money.  People really don’t want to spend the money they should on handmade cards.  It takes hours, even with stamping, and colouring, and layering.  Good card is not cheap, and although things like stamps and colouring pens are re-usable, and can last a very long time, the outlay is not cheap.

Crafting is also better with a buddy, you might not get as much done, but you’ll enjoy it more and someone to bounce ideas off is a great thing.  I also think there’s nothing better than friends who craft, partly because as you get more and more experienced you find new and creative ways to misuse items.  Stick with me and I’ll show you all the short cuts I know, and will happily listen to all of yours!