In the library and post office, it seems pretty straight forward to use a stamp. Put it where you want it and whack it on the paper. But when all you're doing is defacing a postage stamp or putting a date in your book, the print you get from it doesn't have to be good, or that legible. If you stamp like that with a craft rubber stamp you're likely to get a big old mess.
Here are a few of my tips for getting really good prints from your stamp.
1. Use plenty of ink.
Sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but quite often we think that just pressing the stamp into the ink pad will do the trick. And often it will get you enough ink but it can also put ink in places you don't want, like around letters or on the sides of the image. And then put this together with other bad stamping techniques and you get more smudges and ink in places you don't want it. Look at the lovely ink coverage below, that's going to give a great impression.
Turn your stamp over and brush the ink pad over the raised part of the stamp. The ink ends up in the right place and you'll get a lovely clean print. This little video also shows you how to use the little cat eye ink pads too for a good effect.
2. Don't press so hard.
Seriously. I often get people saying 'I get a ring around my stamp'. This is simply because they're pressing too hard. And if you've got ink on the sides of the design and the bed of the stamp, pressing hard distorts the stamp image and gives you a horrible smudgy impression. Gentle even pressure is enough to get a good image.
3. Don't wiggle the stamp.
If you wiggle the stamp then it moves it on the paper and you'll get more smudging. All you need to do it press down and lift straight up.
4. Clean your stamp after each use.
Dried ink is clumpy and will hang around on your stamp for ages. When it gets wet again it will start to run so old colours will spoil new ones. To clean them, you just need warm, soapy water. If there is ink in the design, then an old soft toothbrush will get in there and loosen it off.
5. Store it in a cool, dry place.
Not in a fridge or anything but away from direct heat and strong sunlight. In a drawer or storage box is just fine. Not right next to the radiator or on a window ledge.
Follow these basic tips and you should get nice clean impressions from your stamp.