Paper crimper. Lettering stencils. The thing with the long handle that was supposed to make it easy to punch through thick cardstock but instead broke my favorite flower punch. Punches, be they flowers or leaves or raindrops or snowflakes or that infamous cupid. Dry embossing stylus and stencils. 32 pair of decorative edge scissors. 127 different pens and markers, 18 of them green. One heat embossing gun. Circle cutters. Paint brushes. Rubber stamps and acrylic stamps and acrylic blocks. Four different paper trimmers I never could cut straight with. (One big one I can.) Innumerable pairs of scissors. A die cutting machine.
And that's just off the top of my head, without digging for further proof of all the tools I've purchased over the past 15 years of scrapbooking.
The list of scrapbooking tools can start to feel impossibly long. And let's be honest: it's easy to get sucked into feeling like the next, newest thing is going to revolutionize the way you scrap—or at least make the process faster. Here's the thing, though, with tools: you have to find the one that works for you, and sometimes the process of finding it involves buying a lot of items that don't work. (If I'd just bought my big paper cutter to begin with! I could have paid for half of it with the other smaller ones I bought but didn't like. Sigh.) Tools pile up and get overlooked in the process.
Today's focus is on tools, specifically: stamps.
I think that stamps are a divisive subject. People either love them or hate them. The “hate” side comes down on complexity of use—it's hard to stamp the image exactly where you want it. There's uncertainty involved, as you're never really sure how the stamped image will look. Plus: you have to clean them when you're finished!
Despite all the drawbacks, I have a great affection for stamps. I'm hoping that today's suggestions will inspire you to pull out your bucket or box of stamps and use them (or get rid of a few).
Spend 10-15 minutes browsing through an online catalogue. Here are some to try:
Make a list of 5-6 stamps you love or think you'd use. What types of stamps are you drawn to? (My consistent favorites are alphabets, paisleys, and floral motifs.) Now, pull out the stamps you own and browse through them, looking for any similarities between what you wanted and what you own.
Since your stamps are already out, do one more thing. Flip through your stack of photos waiting to be scrapped and find three groupings you'd like to work with. Now, pair up those pictures with a stamp (or two). You don't necessarily have to use the stamp. Just think about its possibilities.
Now, the big question: which stamps could you get rid of and never miss? About a year ago, I went through every single stamp I own. I asked myself if, honestly, I would ever use that particular image on a layout. Some I'd used once or twice; some had never touched an ink pad. I kept the most versatile and neutral ones—those that passed the cupid test—and gave the rest of them to a friend who is an avid card maker. Here’s what’s left of the rubber stamps:
What surprised me about weeding my stamping stash is this: I use the ones I kept much more often than I did before. I think this is because I have few enough that I keep them out instead of tucked inside a box. They’re each cute enough to look at all the time—and because I see them, I use them. And I’ve never once thought of the stamps I didn’t keep and wished to have them back.
So! This is me, giving you permission to clean out the stamps you don’t need or use. I know this is hard because let’s face it: stamps are expensive! But, you might just find yourself using the ones you keep more often, which means at least you’re getting your money’s worth out of those ones.
Make sure you don’t buy stamps you won’t use by asking yourself:
- How will I use this?
- Do I already own something similar?
- Will I be able to use this on more than one or two layouts?
- Does this stamp wow me enough to overcome the negative aspects of stamping?
Organizing your Stamps
The thing I love about acrylic stamps is they’re so much easier to store! I keep mine in a leather box; within the box they’re grouped into letter stamps (my biggest indulgence) and images (I don’t have many stamps that don’t have some sort of word). On my scrapping desk, I keep my three favorite date stamps, always stuck onto an acrylic block, so I can easily stamp a date with almost zero effort.
Use Your Stuff Tips
Here are some ways to overcome the negative aspects of stamping:
- Acrylic stamps need a cushion, so place your paper or cardstock on top of a mouse pad, then stamp. The resulting image will be much sharper. Celeste taught me this and my stamped images improved vastly once I tried it.
- Solve the cleaning problem by leaving it until you’re completely finished with your layout. Get out your largest acrylic block and use it as a temporary storage; as you finish with each stamp, stick it on that big block. Then clean them all at once by spritzing them with a stamp cleaner and then pressing onto a cloth.
- I never bother cleaning stamps I’ve used with Stayzon ink. Once it’s dry, it’s nearly impossible to clean off. If that ink won’t come off with stamping cleaner, it’s not going to come off onto another ink pad. Why bother?
- When you’re stamping a long title or phrase with rubber stamps, line them all up in alphabetical order at the top of your work space. (I put mine on the window sill behind my desk.) As you stamp each letter, pull it from its spot, stamp, then put it back. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can stamp even something long with this technique.
- Rather than stamping directly onto your layout, stamp on some other paper or cardstock, then cut it out and stick it on your layout. This is far less stressful because if you mess up, you can just start over.
- Embrace the messiness of stamping. You might never stamp a perfect image and, you know? So what? By its nature, stamping invites messiness. Work that quality into your layout and you might find you love the slightly-shabby feel it evokes.
Use Your Stuff Daily Challenge: Tools
Use an alphabet stamp and one other stamped shape, a non-border punch, and a pen on your layout.
Kelly Jeppson made this layout using the challenge as a starting point:
Here's Lisa's take on the challenge:
(I totally WANT those shoes!) Lisa stamped her title and the camera image, used a pen to write the date, and punched the butterfly.
I stamped the title quote (which is a rough interpretation of a Shel Silverstein poem) and then outlined the letters with a brown pen. The messy dots and the heart are both stamps, and I used a punch for the date.
Since I had nearly no scraps left from that piece of Basic Grey patterned paper, I used a different color scheme for the card: