Using ink on our clear stamps
imagepac premium clear photopolymer stamps
Photopolymer stamps are made in the US and the UK and created with a negative. Photopolymer stamps have been used in the printing industry for over 50 years and are designed to transfer ink. If your stamps get dusty or dirty you can simply wash them with warm soapy water and they will stick to your acrylic block again. Do not sand them like you would with some of the acrylic stamps as you will take off the top layer of the stamps and lose detail. You can hold amazing detail much finer than with acrylic ones. Polymer is like us in that it doesn’t like too much sunlight or too much alcohol! The solvent in Staz-on is amongst the most aggressive on polymer stamps and will attack the upper surface on contact. This gives the stamp more grab on the paper and makes it feel sticky when removed. In reality, the solvent is only affecting the stamp whilst it's liquid, which is only for a few seconds before it evaporates and even then only the thinnest surface of the stamp. After repeated stamping this effect is reduced as the stamp becomes protected by a layer of pigment. We use performed long term trials with Staz-on on polymer stamps, and even with repeated use (stamping many times a minute) they still last for many months.
Recommendations for using solvent based inks with clear stamps
1. Use solvent based cleaners sparingly. Solvent based cleaners are more damaging to the stamp than the ink you are removing. So if you can use cleaners, do so sparingly.
2. Create a pigment barrier between the polymer and ink by applying a water based ink before applying your solvent ink. This will prevent the solvents from coming into direct contact with the polymer.
3. Wash ink off immediately with soapy water.
Solvent based inks
Solvent inks are great for permanent strong inking, we recommend Staz-on. They impart very minor damage to the photopolymer. The solvent cleaners will eventually damage the polymer. Do not use Staz-on if you are going to colour with Copic markers as it will damage them.
Pigment based inks
Pigment inks work well for heat embossing with powder and heat gun as they stay wet longer than dye inks and they give crisp, clean images. We recommend Versafine. It is a quick drying oil-based pigment ink. It is archival and resists water so you can use it with watercolours. It cleans with water and will not stain your stamps. If you are going to use your stamps with coloured, clear or white inks you will need to get them clean or the ink will transfer. If you are stamping on a slick surface like shrink plastic-stamp, first on a piece of scratch paper then the stamps won't slip as easily.
Dye based Inks
Dye inks are quick drying inks that are water based and dry almost instantly, such as Memento ink from Tsukineko and Archival ink from Ranger. They will stain photopolymer stamps. If you are just using black or darker inks then it doesn't matter and it will be difficult to tell if the stamps are clean. You can prevent most inks from staining by using either a clear watermark ink or Versafine under ink. The Distress inks from Ranger are also dye inks they have different properties to regular dye inks and give a mottled, distressed look not crisp, clean solid images.
Chalk inks are pigment type inks but they have a flat matte finish like chalk pastels and they are archival.
Hybrid inks from companies like Stewart Superior offer the best of both dye and pigment inks and are well worth trying. However they will stain polymer stamps.
Watermark inks such as Versamark work excellently, particularly for embossing. You can get some great results stamping with a watermark ink and letting it dry and then applying chalks over the image it-you can make images any colour or a tone of the background paper.
There are also specialty fabric inks available that are permanent and will not wash out if you heat set them. They do dry out fairly quickly and you need to re-ink them regularly. They do a great job but the colours are limited.
You can use acrylic paint on your photopolymer stamps, just make sure you clean it off right away. It works best on the more bold and chunky types of stamps as it tends to fill in the very fine detail and give you blobs of paint. There is a fabric medium you can purchase to mix with the paint to create your own fabric paints.