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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Burning Rubber -- Part One

Amuse the Children

Amuse the Children -- and the rest of us! This is a group that likes rubber stamps.
I have been getting lots of questions about rubber stamps lately so I thought I would write a post and share what I know with all of you. In fact, as I worked on this, there were so many interesting things to share I think I better do two posts.

Vintage Set of Rubber Stamps

I have a whole lot of rubber stamping mail artist friends so I went and asked the experts .
I haven't been very good about cleaning my stamps but I discovered the other mail artists I talked to do clean the stamps. Time I change my evil on.

These beauties were photographed in the studio of JU here in San Francisco. She is the poster girl for caring for rubber stamps properly.
She says: 
 I keep a flat dish with moist paper towels by my desk and tap them on them…then place them on dry paper towels to absorb the moisture…then put them back in their place in the drawer (unless I am doing a bunch of things and they may stay out a bit longer but I usually clean them just out of habit)

Here's her set-up now. 
I asked: Can you recommend any special kind of ink pad that works really well?

 My favorite black ink pad (which is the one I use the most) is Carter’s Felt Stamp Pad Size 2: 3.25 x 6.25.  A great size for most stamps and one can re-ink the felt over and over and over.
JU keeps her stamps in narrow wooden drawers, roughly in the same place so she can find them more easily. 
A tiny sample of JU's stamping. Doesn't really do her justice. She sends the most wonderful mail art.
JU's stamps (well...a few of them....)

Next stop -- Santa Fe -- and some Q&A for Peggy. I would sure like to know where she got all these rubber stamps. Maybe if we are really, really nice she will tell us in the comments section.
Peggy tells me--

I clean.  With baby wipes and dry on a little scrubber thingie from the stamp store.  I even wash it now and then.
I store on shelves that my husband built in my studio.  I arrange by category and once a year or so I take them all off, dust, move around a bit.

Postcard from Peggy
She says if you are ever in Santa Fe, stop by Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps.
And, if you can't get to Santa Fe, here is the link for some online shopping
Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps
Peggy doesn't like online stamp shopping but I certainly do!

Here's another tip from her -- if you buy some lovely vintage rubber stamps where the rubber has gotten brittle and doesn't stamp well -- try soaking the rubber part of the stamp in some baby oil or olive oil overnight, wipe clean and try stamping.
They just might soften up and work.

Next Stop -- Pasadena.
Recently I was lucky enough to visit mail artist Stan Askew in Pasadena. He graciously allowed me to take some photos of his stamp collection and he answered my stamping questions.
Here's how Stan cleans his stamps--

"I try to be careful with my rubber stamps, but I do not clean them each time I use them. When I do clean them I currently use a product called "spritz" that I purchased at a store in Pasadena that sells specialty papers and rubber stamps and related materials [ ink pads, cleaners ]. I don't spray the cleaner directly on the stamp, but on to a soft dish towel, and then I gently wipe the rubber stamping surface. sometimes I use a soft tooth brush, as well, if I determine that the stamp is heavily embedded with old ink. I always blot the stamp with a clean towel when I have finished removing old ink."

Stan's studio & stamp bins

" I store my rubber stamps in plastic containers with lids that I purchase at target. I try not to put too many stamps in a container. I like the ones that are made to be easily stacked.
I like the ink pads made by Ranger. The ink is archival and the pads come in various sizes"

I think Stan was holding out on me a little -- look what I saw when he opened the desk drawer!
A whole drawer of stamps.

Stan has been collecting rubber stamps since the 60's. As soon as I saw these lovely wood mounted stamps I could tell they were old.
All of us agreed -- wood mounted is best!

Check out InvokeArts Stamps too -- They were in SF at Ex Postal Facto and Stan -- and I -- bought a few stamps from them. Someone wanted to know where I got my Bird Air Mail stamp (sorry, I forget who) and this is the place you can get one.

Stamping by Stan

If you have ever gotten mail art from Stan, you know he custom stamps each and every envelope with the name and address.
And here are some of the stamps he uses to do it!

Thanks to JU in San Francisco, Peggy in Santa Fe and Stan Askew in Pasadena for the tips and peeks into their work and workspace.
Any questions for them? Just ask in the comments and I bet we can get them to answer. And I think I better start cleaning my stamps like these artists do.....

Part two -- MY stamp collection and storage and some of the places I buy my my stamps.
You know you want to know. I won't tell you ALL my secrets but I will tell most of them so stay tuned for part two.

And feel free to jump into the conversation -- any rubber stamping tips? How do you clean your stamps?

Till then -- happy stamping!


  1. Oh, funny - I said myself - these stamps uses Stan Askew too...
    And after that:
    Ooh, fantastic, Pamela visited Stan Askew...:-))
    What a great morning!

    Many thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it again.
    Not only about Stan, but the other stamplers too.
    And thanks for the tip: baby oil. I´ll try it.

    1. Thanks, Susannia--and Stan and I talked about YOU and how wonderful your work is. So glad you liked the post.

  2. So many great tips! Thank you so much for posting this!!!

  3. Thanks for this, Pamela. Clearly I need to improve (um, start) a stamp hygiene routine. I'm curious if any of your readers have tips for hand-carved stamps? I've had several break on me after just a few months and not a lot of use.
    (Apologies if this is the third time you see this comment. I'm having trouble with Google listening to me.)

    1. Adrienne -- see Connie's comment below. Very helpful. And I know someone else to ask too....Only got the one comment from you. Bad Google giving you a bad time commenting. Thanks for sticking with it. And got some good mail from you too.....

  4. What a great post! Thanks for answering my question about cleaning. I do clean mine after use, was just curious about what others do. I prefer pigment ink pads, they just work better for me. The ink is also very easy to wash off stamps with a stream of running water. Then I dry immediately and put away. I nearly always buy stamps UNmounted, and mount them myself, because as you know, space is at a premium in my place and the wood mounted stamps just consume too much space. They also cost a lot more.

    I have one Staz-On pad, which I like for obvious reasons, but that ink is difficult to get off stamps. The Staz-On stamp cleaner is a joke, and I don't want to have to buy a chemical to get ink off the stamps, after spending a mint for those pads to begin with. But, I found that CitraSolv works perfectly to remove Staz-On ink from stamps, so I use that instead.

    To answer Adrienne's question about hand carved stamps: it depends on what material you've carved with. When I first began, I bought something called Easy Cut (I think) at Blick. Not only was the material crumbly, but those stamps did break fairly easily, even though the stuff was about 3/8" thick to begin with. Blick's Soft Cut is better in terms of not breaking, but it's not as thick, so I've often mounted those stamps on 3/8" thick foam. MasterCarve is good, I think it might be a Speedball product.

    Thanks again, Pamela! xo

    1. Hummm.....good to know about the CitraSolv. I bought some to play with the old National geo's but I didn't like the whole process. Now I can use it up on cleaning stamps. Thanks for your very helpful tips -- I'm sure Adrienne will appreciate them. I can't help it -- I only like wood mounted stamps. I have some I had to stick on foam backs but T don't like it....
      Thanks for commenting, my friend.

  5. Now I wish I had found Guadalupe's - we were close but busy.....I usually stamp repeatedly on my desk paper after I use a stamp to rid it of most of the ink, but baby wipes work well too....Nice selection of stamps there from everyone. Some really unusual ones. xox

  6. Wow! Look at what I am missing not living in CA!
    I have learned a lot.
    (P.S. You make super mail art).

    1. Thanks, Nancy Lee! Glad this was helpful and happy you like my mail art too.

  7. Another fun post, Pamela, thanks! I use baby wipes as well and find they work very well on all my rubber stamps. I'll have to try the baby oil / olive oil therapy for several of my antique rubber stamps that are somewhat brittle. Not sure I'd feel comfortable using running water on my old rubber stamps and I never allow my stamps to sit for long periods of time in any kind of sunlight, which causes the rubber to become dry and brittle. I'm running out of storage space for my collection, but can any mail artist have too many rubber stamps??? I don't think so!! They are so much fun to use :>

    1. Happy mail Day -- my stamps are in shallow boxes inside a drawer so no light on them. I'll show you in the next stamp post. And I am going to try those baby wipes!
      Noooooooo -- a mail artist can never have too many rubber stamps. But I am trying to limit myself to postal themed stamps now...thanks for commenting.

  8. I like this! I should do a better job but I seldom wash my stamps immediately after use because I will use them again soon, and I am too lazy to clean and dry every time I stamp. When I do, I gently scrub away build-up with a little travel toothbrush, blot and let them air dry.

    1. Limner -- I'm too lazy too. I haven't been cleaning mine but I am thinking i should be.....

  9. Pamela, I'm so glad you are teaching us about rubber stamps. More! More! Maybe I'll start using mine...with baby wipes to clean them.

    1. Texas Leigh -- more is coming soon. I am working on part two. But I am kind of like the parent who says do as I say, not as I do....I haven't been cleaning my stamps even though now I see I should. Well...actually JU, Stan & Peggy are the ones who said to clean them....ha ha. Thanks for your comment.

  10. I've also known for awhile that I SHOULD clean my rubber stamps, but do I? No. Still, I admire people who do, along with people who clean their ovens and dust and...

    1. I don't clean mine either, Christine....well...once in a blue moon...

  11. I use the permanent staz-on ink almost exclsively, and since it's alcohol based and dries pretty instantly, I never clean my stamps. It's only if I've used pigment ink that I bother to wipe them off. I use some of my home made stamps with paint instead of ink pads and always run them under water and give them a quick scrub with a toothbrush. but mostly, I don't clean my stamps (and don't see myself starting!)

    1. Karen -- recently discovered Staz-On (thanks to Connie Rose) and it is great. And I am the proud owner of two of your handmade stamps.



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