Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Care and Cleaning of Rubber Stamps and Ink Pads

Care for your rubber stamps and ink pads and they will last a long, long, long time.

Storing Rubber Stamps
The most important thing to remember is to store your rubber stamps away from direct sunlight as this can eventually damage the rubber. Other than that, where you keep them is up to you. Many people like shallow boxes where the stamps can be stored in a single, easy to look at, layer. I use hanging clear shoe bags to store a lot of stamps in the closet. If you have a creative stamp storage solution, let us know!

Cleaning Rubber Stamps
It's important to keep your rubber stamps clean, otherwise the ink from one project is likely to bleed onto the prints of another. That said, some inks stain and will be impossible to get completely clean. Learn the difference between a stain, which won't effect future use of the stamp, and dried on ink, which will.

Try to clean rubber stamps as soon after using them as possible. If you clean your stamps quickly, water is often all that's necessary. You can also buy special stamp cleaning fluid from your crafts store (this is especially necessary when using solvent inks.

Another handy item available at your stamp or craft supply store is a stamp cleaning pad. This resembles a large white ink pad but instead of foam it has a fabric scrubbing surface. You spray your stamps with cleaning fluid, then scrub it back and forth on one side of the scrubber pad to get the ink off, then the other side to dry the stamp.

A couple of household items can also come in handy when cleaning rubber stamps. An old toothbrush can help to gently scrub stubborn ink out of detail areas of a stamp.

Baby wipes also do a good job of cleaning inked rubber stamps, providing they are alcohol and lint free.

Storing and Caring for Stamp Pads
Old stamp pads never die -- they just get re-inked. Don't throw out your stamp pads, you can buy bottles of refill ink and bring them back to life. Inks come in small squeeze bottles. To re-ink your pad, spread a thin layer of ink as evenly as possible over the pad, then use a stiff piece of card stock or a piece of heavy plastic (such as an old credit card) to drag across the pad and spread the ink.

There is no need to store foam pads upside down, although felt dye based ink pads can benefit from this. Be careful storing rainbow pads -- keep them level or their inks could run together.

More on Rubber Stamping

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