You would think it would be obvious, the best way to use a rubber stamp. But have you had your stamped impressions turn out grainy and gray? Have you ever, like me, had to decide whether to chuck that envelope you just stamped? Or tried to decide whether the person you're sending it to would notice something like that?
I discovered something recently—I've been doing it wrong.
I used to use any old stamp pad, push my rubber stamp into the ink as hard as I could, and then just rub the stamp around on a piece of paper to get some of the ink off. And I used to frown at my envelopes and think, "Did I not press hard enough? I must have not pressed hard enough. Let me try again. Nope, still bad. Okay, let me press even HARDER and try again. WHY DO YOU STILL LOOK AWFUL!"
But there are actually four simple steps to getting a perfect impression, every time!
1. Invest in a good stamp pad, like a lovely stamp pad from ColorBox.
2. Pat the surface of your stamp several times on the ink, rather than pressing it in.
3. Clean off the surface of your stamp after using with alcohol-free baby wipes. If it's really gunky you can use a toothbrush in mild soap and water (but do this only on the surface, don't let the water get into the wood).
4. Store your ink pad upside down to keep the ink always at the surface.
Now mind you, I don't bother with these rules all the time, except for keeping my stamp pad upside down. If I'm running out the door and then suddenly remember I have to send a letter to the bank or something, I simply don't care what my address looks like. But for holiday cards, invitations, and personal stationery, that's when it's worth the extra effort for that extra touch o' lovely.
Bad (Avery stamp pad from Staples, pressed in, not cleaned):
Good (ColorBox Pigment Ink, patted, and cleaned).
What a difference, right?? And this is with a stamp that is at least 6 years old, not a crisp new one. And one that I'm not always good about cleaning. I am trying to be better about that, as not cleaning your rubber stamp can lead to some issues such as:
1. Grainy image.
2. Clogged areas that fill in when you stamp.
3. Transfer of ink color, which is especially frustrating when you have a beautiful new colored ink pad, like a gold one that costs quite a bit.
But if you clean your stamp you can bring it back to life, with just a teensy amount of effort. Teensy!
I suppose a last lesson might be: Leave your envelope alone for a minute to let the ink dry (particularly with pigment ink, which takes much longer).
So bust out your old stamps, apologize to them for treating them so poorly, and make your envelopes and paper happy.