Sunday, January 31, 2016

Photopolymer Stamps - some tips

Note:  PP = photopolymer

 When PP stamps were first introducted by SU in 2013 no one really knew what they were, including myself . I was a bit skeptical about their ability to stamp a clear image, and to not yellow and crack like clear stamps have done in the past.  But Stampin' Up has found a photopolymer product that meets the high standard of quality that are required for all their products.  Several videos and  video by Stampin' Up helped to explain what they were and clearly outlined the advantages and uses  of  this new member of  SU's stamping family.

I was really skeptical and avoided using them for the longest time.  I had learned how to stamp on wood mounted stamps. Even clear stamps were a source of angst for me. Several of my team stated they "hated" these stamps and wished that SU would discontinue them.

However, with persistence, I began to enjoy stamping with them.  Here are some of the advantages I found with these stamps:

  • They’re entirely transparent for perfect placement every time! This is particularly helpful with alphabets, borders and backgrounds.
  • They are durable. The photopolymer material is designed to last.
  • They stick very well to our clear blocks.
  • They’re age tested. They won’t yellow or cloud up over time.
  • They now come packaged between 2 sheets of acetate in a DVD-sized container.  One sheet is conveniently printed with the stamp images.  
  • They are more environmentally friendly.  Rubber stamps are not made from rubber trees! The photopolymer used to create clear stamps is also a synthetic; but, the solution is reused. For each large sheet of stamps manufactured, up to 70% of the photopolymer solution is reclaimed and collected for additional uses.

    Photopolymer clear stamps can and should last a life time. There is no specific life span on photopolymer clear stamps, with proper use and general cleaning and care they should last as long as traditional rubber stamps.  However, some demonstrators have commented to me that some of their PP stamp sets are showing their age.

     Photopolymer is latex free and contains no ingredients that would be harmful to you or the enviroment.
It took some convincing and persistent use of these stamps, but now I love the Photopolymer stamps. The quality if amazing, and the price is fantastic. 
 
 But some stampers have expressed to me some concerns about the PP stamps - especially the staining of the stamps,,  the problems with getting clear images when stamping, and the aging seen with repeated usage.

Tips on How to Get the Most Out of PP Stamps:

Various sources have been used on tips on how to get the most of these stamps.  I would like to thank Kelly Kent from "My Paper Craft Journey" for a lot of this information, SU, Mary Fish, Amy Koenders, Maggie Matta, Connie Stewart, and various other sources.


Stamping:

A clear or acrylic block must be used, which is sold separately.

Use a foam pad under the stamp in order to get the greatest results and the most detailed images of the PP stamps. This tip came from  Amy Koenders who made a video regarding this.

Apply the stamp to the clear block the same way clear mounted stamps are applied. Place the stamp face down on the work surface,  lowering the block directly on the top of the stamp.  I have noticed that most SU demonstrators in their videos do not mount their PP stamps this way, but I would recommend it. Applying the stamp to the block this way  helps to keep the stamp's intended shape and alignment. When using wood mounted stamps, the stamping is done with the block on top, not underneath.  Note:  use the size of block that is appropriate to the size of the PP stamp.  Too large a block will made stamping difficult as there is too much room around the stamp. Note that wood mounted stamps provide different sizes of blocks for the different sizes of stamps.

Avoid pulling the PP stamp when removing it from the clear block - to avoid stretching or tearing the stamp.  Be gentle.

Cleaning:
Always clean the PP stamps immediately after use - whether you use the stampin' brush, wipes or a special cloth.

One think I avoid doing is cleaning my PP stamps using the SU stamp'n scrub. Unless the scrub is cleaned meticulously everytime I find I am picking up colours from the scrub especially the darker ones.  Don't get me wrong, I like my stamping scrub, but I have my reservations about using it on the PP stamps.  So, I have been using unscented baby wipes, but being environmentally minded,  I have been looking for another method to use.

One person , Maggie Matta uses uses a dampened PVA car cleaning cloth (PVA chamois from car dealerships) ,  These clothes can be cleaned and used over and over again, and can be stored in a clear stamping case.  I personally have not used this cloth, but I am going to try it.  Right now I am using the cloth that comes with glasses.  The cloth is dampened and kept in a stamp case.  So far I am happy with this.

 Never soak or let any of your stamps sit in a solvent or alcohol based cleaner these can break down all types of stamps.

Staining:
PP stamps will  stain if  dark colours – particularly those with red bases (Blackberry Bliss, Cherry Cobbler) are used. To reduce this staining, some stampers believe that if the stamp is first stamped in a lighter colour (like Blushing Bride), this staining will be minimized.

Inks to Use:

Memento ink has been recommended for use with PP stamps.  I have found that Archival ink sticks to the stamp and paper and the stamp is difficult to pull off the paper leaving part of the image behind.

Stazon ink is not recommended by Stampin' Up.  If you do have to use it, ensure that all the cleaner is removed from the stamp prior to storing it.

Cleaning:
One think I avoid doing is cleaning my PP stamps using the SU stamp'n scrub. Unless the scrub is meticulously clean, I find I am picking up colours from the scrub.  Don't get me wrong, I like my stamping scrub, but I find it not suitable for the PP stamps.  So, I have been using unscented baby wipes, but I have been looking for a method to use that is more environmentally friendly.

One person , Maggie Matta uses uses a dampened PVA car cleaning cloth (PVA chamois from car dealerships) ,  These clothes can be cleaned and used over and over again, and can be stored in a clear stamping case.  I personally have not used this cloth, but I am going to try it.  Right now I am using the cloth that comes with glasses.  The cloth is dampened and kept in a stamp case.  So far I am happy with this.

Restoring Tackiness to PP stamps:
There is conflicting information as to how to restore "tackiness" to PP stamps. .Connie Stewart advocates using alcohol wipes to restore stickiness to the PP stamps. She later made a video on using soap and water to restore the tackiness on PP stamps.  I personally have used soap and water and it works very well for me.

Storing:

Store PP stamps away from direct sunlight.

Kate Kalthoff (Stampin to Share) describes a different way to store PP stamps.  Check out her video  This is one method I am going to try.

Some demonstrators actually remove the stamps from the image piece, insert this piece behind the film of the case, and place the stamps directly onto the inside of the case. Mary Fish has done a video describing this method.   If both sides of the case are used, the clear sheet can be used to keep the stamps from touching each other. 


I'm sure there are many other tips to optimize the use of PP stamps.  If you have some, would you please include them in your comments, and I will include them in the article.

Thanks

Maria

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