Stamping Techniques – Create Your Own Paper by Sharon Reinhart
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Explore common stamping applications, like direct-to-paper, sponging and collage, to create eye-catching paper to use for any number of special occasions.
Direct-to-paper (DTP) is a stamping technique where an ink pad becomes the application tool. In this method, colors are applied directly from the ink pad to the paper. All types of colors of inks and papers can be used, but pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommended advice for matching the correct ink and paper. Slow-drying pigment ink is perfect for blending, but it usually won’t dry on glossy card stock. That
being said, some pigment inks, such as Brilliance by Tsukineko, were specifically designed for use on shiny surfaces and will dry on glossy papers.

To lessen the color contamination of ink pads, always start with the lightest color and work your way to the darkest (Figs 1-3).

Figure01 Figure02 Figure03

The best way to blend the colors is to use a soft rag or paper towel, blending as you apply the color. In addition, you can leave certain portions unblended for an increasingly dramatic appearance that accents the shape of the ink pad. Every part of the ink pad can be used. For an abstract line pattern, try using the edges of a rectangular or square ink pad (Fig. 4).


The direct-to-paper technique can be used to create blended backgrounds and/or unique patterns, by utilizing a variety of different shapes and sizes of ink pads. Square or rectangular ink pads are some examples of various shapes you will see, from the Dewdrop shape from Tsukineko and the Cat’s Eye shape from Colorbox. There’s also a wand-like adapter tool by Colorbox for use with the cat’s Eye ink pads, that actually snap into the back of the ink pad – perfect, if you don’t want to mess up a fresh manicure!

For card making specifically, I prefer to create my own direct-to-paper backgrounds on quarter-sheets and half-sheets, unless I’m cranking things out in assembly-line fashion. Here are a few things to try, once you have created your sheet:

1) Try adding a stamped greeting or rubbed-on transfer (Fig. 5)


2) Add stamped or heat-embossed images.

3) Pressure embossing

4) Create difficult shapes – cut, punch, or die-cut (Fig. 6)


5) Cut your paper into mosaics or shards

Sponging is yet another method for adding color, pattern, and an illusion of texture. With this technique, once again, all types of colors and inks can be used. Another medium that works great for sponging is acrylic paint. Here’s a quick rundown of some available sponging tools:

1) Stamp-It sponging block

2) Colorbox foam tips

3) Inkssentials Blending Tool & Foam by Ranger

4) There are several other options readily available that you can also use, like cosmetic wedges, kitchen sponges, children’s sponge balls and finally, plastic wrap.

Use basic stencils to create the sponge designs, moving the stencil along and building up layers of color (Fig. 7), or create your own stencil design using a favorite punch. You can create a beautiful feathered-edge effect, using torn papers (Fig. 8).

Figure07 Figure08

Sticky notes aren’t just for “to-do” lists. The notes can be torn to create a mask to complement a stamped greeting (Fig. 9).

Collage stamping is a technique of creating a larger picture by combining smaller images. Instead of pasting materials to paper, you actually stamp several images in order to create a collage. There are numerous stamps on the market designed with several images combined on one stamp to make a collage. Collage stamping is the perfect way to get more mileage from your individual images, as well as a way to create something truly unique. You’re totally in the driver’s seat when it comes to creativity, so don’t limit yourself! Choose images that appeal to you personally or reflect the personality of the lucky individual that will be the recipient of your finished creation.

Personally, I like to use one script or background image, one solid image, and finally one fine-detail image (Fig. 10).


This type of grouping allows your stamped collage to have texture, dimension, and visual interest, despite being only two-dimensional. With the background image, it can be literally anything – a scroll pattern, musical notes, or even a geometric pattern. Don’t be afraid to mix and match stamp styles, just like with paper and wardrobe patterns and colors. Then, leave the design as it is or bling it up a bit with rhinestones or something similar.

As with every technique, there’s always a way to take things a step further. Through this experimentation is how new techniques are born. Let’s all be the Thomas Edison’s of stamping! In closing, if you’re shooting for the moon and you desire even more creativity and experimentation, then try combining direct-to-paper, collage stamping, and sponging techniques, as well!

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