Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a natural-born artist? While some people are talented enough to create beautiful freehand graphics and drawings, the rest of us aren’t quite so lucky. That doesn’t mean we can’t make our very own masterpieces. Crafts like ink stamping provide shortcuts so that anyone with any level of artistic talent can have the opportunity to create art and to express themselves creatively. Ink stamping may be just the craft you’re looking for if you admire hand-drawn cards or stationary, but aren’t particularly gifted when it comes to drawing.

What is Ink Stamping?

The art of ink stamping uses an image or pattern molded onto a rubber stamp and dipped into ink. You can use stamps on nearly any flat surface, though generally they are applied to paper or card stock. Combining stamps, colors, and embellishments is an excellent way to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece. Often, stamping combines with scrapbooking to craft perfectly customized photo spreads for albums.


Technically speaking, ink stamping does not require many supplies. However, most people will tire of the same few stamps and colors over time. Most ink stampers end up with quite extensive collections of stamps, ink colors, paper, cardstock, and art supplies. Those who combine stamping with scrapbooking may find themselves with an even larger supply collection. If you’re serious about taking on ink stamping as a hobby, consider investing in quality storage now. You will most definitely thank yourself later.

Rubber stamps

A set of 12 rubber floral stamps for ink stamping.

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A wide variety of materials find use in stamps, including foam, wood, cork, and even plants. You can make stamps out of nearly any material. Rubber, however, remains the standard for serious crafters. Rubber is versatile and long-lasting. You can buy individually-mounted rubber stamps or unmounted rubber sheet stamps.

Rubber sheet stamps come with sticky backing to make it easy to mount them on whichever type of block or handle you prefer. Stamps come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny shapes for backgrounds and borders, to intricate fonts and images.


A set of 20 colored ink pads for ink stamping.

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The best type of ink to use depends on the kind of project at hand. If you’re stamping a scrapbook page, it is important to use ink that is acid-free, light-fast, and archival. This will keep attached photos safe and preserved. If you plan to stamp onto paper or card stock, you will want to start with dye inks. Layered crafts call for a waterproof dye ink to prevent smudging. Water-based dye inks, on the other hand, will allow blending and watercolor effects. If you wish to stamp onto metal, glass, or plastic, choose solvent inks. Most inks come with pads, which can coat your stamp by pressing it down into the ink-saturated pad.


A package of 12" specialty ink stamping paper.

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Ink stamping can work on any paper, from tissue to cardboard. You can use specialty papers and films for layers, clear windows, and other decor. For crisp, clear lines, avoid extremely porous paper, such as construction paper. This type of paper can cause ink to bleed and feather. If you plan to stamp on paper with a glossy finish, you will want to be sure to avoid pigment inks, as they are not water based, and will not air dry.

Stamp cleaner

A spray bottle of bubble-gun scented stamp cleaner.

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It is vital to clean stamps after each use. This habit will help you avoid contaminating your ink pads with other colors from previous applications. Stamps can also collect dried ink in crevices, building up to the point where the details blur together and disappear.

Specialty stamp cleaners are available for purchase at craft stores and online. Some commercial cleaners sell in bottles, while others are “cleaning stamp pads.” It is also quite easy to make your stamp cleaner. Most rubber stamps will come clean with a simple mixture of water and dish detergent. Alcohol-free baby wipes are also a convenient alternative.

Markers, chalks, and blenders

Blendable markers for ink stamping.

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While not essential, many people find that ink stamping can be further personalized by adding customized details. Brush pens and chalk markers can be used to draw in additional lines and create multi-colored patterns. Blending pens allow mixing and blending of colors, providing an opportunity for fading, blurring, ombre, or watercolor effects.


Sequins and charms to be used for ink stamping.

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Embellishments are one of those sneaky craft supplies that are purely optional, yet end up taking up the most room in your supply kit. You can embellish ink stamped cards or images with nearly anything. Popular favorites include lace, buttons, sequins, faux pearls, and specialty charms.

Many household and yard items can even double as ink stamping accessories. Coins, old postage stamps, acorns, pine cones, and anything else you can imagine can accessorize your stamp art.

Heat gun

Heat gun used to for ink stamping.

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A heat gun is for a specific type of stamping called embossing. Embossing is the process of stamping, writing, or drawing with embossing ink, covering the ink in embossing powder, and heating the image with a heat gun. The powder melts, creating a raised finish. However, heat guns can also quickly dry traditional ink stamped images. If you wish to color or stamp over a stamped image, it is important to make sure the base image is fully dry to avoid smudging.


There is more than one way to create art using ink stamping. The sky is the limit when it comes to the new techniques and effects you can try. However, there are a few tried-and-true techniques that have emerged as favorites within the ink stamping community. Once you start to get the hang of the craft, trying these new approaches is a great way to expand your skills.


Layering involves using stamps to create a background first and then using other stamps to layer on the main image. Use small individual stamps or specialized background stamps to create intricate backgrounds. Then, text layers can either be hand-lettered or stamped on, followed by the featured image.

Here’s more on layering via Jennifer McGuire on YouTube:


A watercolor paint effect can be created using stamps and water-based or distress inks. Stamp onto paper, then use a blending brush or a paintbrush with water to blend out colors and create watercolor art. You can see more in the video below:


Distressing is another technique that uses popular distress inks. Distress inks easily blend and are ideal for creating soft, blurred, or fuzzy backgrounds. Similar to watercolors, distress inks can create many different effects, including antiquing and stained glass. Here’s more:

Custom colors

A wonderful way to use stamps to create unique art is with coloring. Simply stamp an image with black lines and then color it in however you please. Brush pens with blenders, colored pencils, and even other colors of stamp ink can all blend for coloring.

Do you wish to create art, but worry that you don’t have the skills to draw or paint? Consider ink stamping! It is a creative craft that can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish it to be. All you need is a creative vision, and the stamps will take care of the details of drawing and hand-letting for you. Surprise your loved ones with hand-made greeting cards or make your wall hangings. Craft beautiful gifts, or sell your wares at craft shows. Ink stamping is truly a craft for everyone.


Featured Image: CC0, by ulleo, via Pixabay