I went to a Stampin' Up! party a couple of weeks ago and had a LOT of fun and spent too much money. I think Stampin' Up! is good at that--fun and extra money sucking. And I don't bear them any ill will in saying that, either.
The demonstrator did a great job demonstrating a lot of Stampin' Up! products. One of the things she showed was the Stamp-a-ma-jig, which is awesome, and which I had never ever seen demonstrated before. My shunning of rubber stamps for the ease of clear stamps has officially been ended. I can use my rubber stamps with the same kind of creative abandon I was reserving only for my clear stamps.
Storage problems aside, rubber stamps are great. I'm not going to say they're better than clear stamps. I've been over this before, but I'll say it one more time, just to make sure it sinks in: clear stamps are great and produce perfectly clear images if you use pigment or chalk inks. Dye inks coagulate on the surface of the clear stamp itself and causes the clear stamp to produce a blotchy image. You can either not like this or, like me, you can embrace it and LOVE it and use the effect on purpose to achieve an instant aged look to the images you stamp in your project. Try Tim Holtz distress inks (my favorite color is Vintage Photo) with these stamps and you'll really make something impressive and aged looking without any real effort at all.
As bad as it may make me sound, that's my favorite kind of crafty thing--impressive AND effortless. Ahhh... sweet music!
Back to rubber stamps, though... If you're in a hurry and would like a clear, crisp image without worrying about ink smudges from chalk or pigment inks (since they dry so much slower, but could be heated with a heat gun [read: hair dryer, if you don't have a heat gun] to speed drying), then learning to use a tool like the Stamp-a-ma-jig is a must! Especially if you don't want all of your rubber stamps to sit, lonely and unused, in whatever hole you've managed to carve for them in your itsy-teeny (if not non-existant) crafting space.
Because one of the ladies there mentioned that I could get a tool similar to the Stampin' Up! one at Michael's or JoAnn for cheaper with a coupon, I held off on buying the little marvel in favor of more stamps! However, I got home, and it occurred to me that I could do the same thing this tool does if I just had a right angle of some kind. I told my sweet, adoring, and oh-so eager-to-please husband this and asked if he could just make me something out of scrap wood. The little tool in the photos below is the result. It isn't fancy, but it sure as heck works.
The most important thing my Stampin' Up! demonstrator showed with this tool, I thought, was how she used vellum instead of the clear wipeable thingie that came with the tool to show the stamp, and stored the stamped vellum with her sets. Brilliant! But I'm too cheap, so I used tracing paper. I know you're probably thinking, "Gosh, woman, get on with it," (if you even are still reading my ramblings), so I'll get on talking about this thing, and explain all of what I just said in this paragraph since you're probably lost.
Start with your chosen tool.... Purchased or made or, in a pinch, a couple of books held at a right angle. Anything to get you started with this technique. If you like it, go ahead and buy a new tool.
Set your piece of vellum or tracing paper up against the right angle in your tool as shown above. Make sure your paper has a perfect right angle at the place where it's meeting the right angle of the tool. This is important for the accuracy of your tool!
Ink your stamp and, keeping the paper aligned with the tool, stamp with the edges of the stamp against the inside edges of your tool, as shown.
The stamped image... This is the magical part, I think. (I'm still not over it! It's so awesome!) This is now an image of the precise location of the stamp on the underside of the wooden block, as measured against the tool. If you don't understand it yet, you will!
Trim the paper around the stamp, but do NOT trim the top or left edges, no matter how uneven it looks. You need those edges intact as the image was stamped so that you can use this image as a reference image for future stamping with the tool and the stamp.
Here is one of my stamp sets with all of the papers inside. Most of them have a very obvious top and bottom when stamped, but if it doesn't (such as the flower), I draw a little arrow pointing up to show me which is the top.
To use the little reference tool, trim a piece of paper, or get your project out, or whatever. Although I do recommend doing this on scrap first, to get the hang of it. Position the stamped vellum/tracing paper with the reference image exactly where you want the stamped image to be.
Carefully line up the top left corner of the reference paper with the inside corner of your tool. Remove the reference paper without moving the tool and stamp your image with the stamp lined up on the inside of the tool, just like you did when you made your reference image.
You should end up with a stamped image--EXACTLY where you want it! Isn't that COOL!?
Here's a card I made with my newly discovered technique. I did the leaves this way, too, determining exactly where I wanted them, and then aligned the tool accordingly. You won't always be looking at it straight. When I was finished, I felt it needed something more, and I did what I had never dared do before--I stamped, with a rubber stamp, the little line of dots underneath the black paper, AFTER the card was put together.
Here is the little tool my hubby made for me. You can see that he simply attached two pieces of wood together with screws. It works great!