Actually putting ink on a stamp and making an impression is the fun part. Sometimes before you can do that, you need to mount the rubber die on cushion. In my recent blog post on “Temporary Stamp Mounting”, I showed you how I mounted rubber dies onto cling cushion, using powder to help counter the stickiness of the cushion’s adhesive. Today I’d like to show you two other methods of cutting out sticky cushion with a minimum of stickiness.
Hot Knife Cushion Cutting Method
After I posted my previous post, Ginni Shelby reminded me that you can alternatively cut the cushion using a hot knife. This is actually something that we covered in the Jun ’06 VSN (still available on VSN’s Online Shopping Cart.) In that issue, Daylene Strickland shared how to use a hot blade (used to cut foam core) to cut out stamps on cushion. The hot blade melts the foam cushion rather than cuts it.
This is a piece of “Cling Mounting Cushion” that I got earlier this month from Wendy at Repeat Impressions Rubber Stamps. (I ordered it late in the day on July 3rd and she got it in the mail to me on July 5th right after the holiday. How’s that for fast?) This type of cushion is sticky on one side. The other side has a surface that will cling to acrylic stamp mounts. Each side comes covered with backing paper. To use, you peel the backing paper off the sticky adhesive side and place the the rubber dies on it.
Tip: Most backing paper peels off the cling cushion very easily. But if you should get a piece of cushion with extra aggressive adhesive that simply won’t let you remove the backing paper, causing it to cling stubbornly to the cushion, don’t panic. If you simply can’t get it off, put the whole thing in the freezer for five minutes. Then take it out and immediately remove the backing paper. I’ve found that you can peel the paper off when it is cold. Let it come back up to room temperature and the adhesive comes back to its aggressive self and the paper won’t come off again. Once you have the backing paper off, you can use the cling cushion as you usually do.
When you put the rubber dies onto the sticky cushion, you want to try and puzzle piece them together so that you use the cushion as efficiently as possible. I probably could have done these dies a little tighter. You can see some open spaces where some really small dies might have fit. Notice that I’ve trimmed all the dies very close (but without undercutting them.) This not only helps you fit more onto the sheet, but also is necessary when you cut the cushion with a hot knife because the knife doesn’t cut through the rubber.
Once you have all the dies in place, place the sheet on a piece of glass. I used an old rectangular microwave glass insert (which shows how long I’ve had this piece of glass because it was from before microwave ovens had turn tables and round glass inserts!) You then run the hot knife through the cushion along the edge of the closely trimmed rubber. The hot knife melts a groove through the cushion along its tip.
Important Safety Note: I don’t actually have a hot knife. What you see in the photo is a wood burning tool with a thin tip inserted. This will work, just like a hot knife will work, but the wood burning tool gets hotter than a hot knife. Daylene reported a slight odor but no smoke or strong fumes when she did it with her hot knife. Doing it with the wood burning tool, I got some wisps of smoke. I made a point to turn on my Fume Trap (see the product review in the Apr ’08 VSN.) to pull the smoke and any fumes away from me as I worked and tried not to breathe it in. I can’t tell you whether or not there is any toxicity with this method. At the very least, use good ventilation!
There are two advantages to this method. First, running the tool along the rubber dies is quicker and easier on your hands than cutting them out with scissors. Second, the adhesive doesn’t get the hot knife all sticky the way it will get all over scissors. You may need to clean some char off the tip when you are done and the tool has completely cooled but it isn’t sticky. And because the sheet is flat on the glass instead of held in your hands, your hands won’t get sticky either. For more on this technique, check out Daylene’s article in the Jun ’06 VSN.
Plastic Wrap Cushion Cutting Method
But what if you don’t have a hot knife or what if you do, but worry about possible fumes? You could of course use the powder method I explained in the previous post, but there is yet another method. I don’t remember where I learned the plastic wrap method and had actually forgotten it, just like I had forgotten the hot knife method. Hey, I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and there are 226 issues of VSN; I’m going to forget things sometimes! :) But trying it again, I actually think I like the plastic wrap method best.
This method is really quite simple. Instead of coating the exposed cushion with powder to combat the stickiness of the cushion, you cover the whole sheet with a piece of clear plastic wrap. The wrap sticks to the exposed cushion. Here I’ve done half the sheet using the hot knife and now am doing the rest with scissors and plastic wrap.
Then you use sharp short-bladed scissors to cut out the stamps along the edges of the rubber. Here I am using Kai scissors. Notice that the plastic wrap tends to stick to the tiny line of adhesive along the edge of the stamp that the scissors expose. This is a good thing. Your scissors don’t wind up with as much adhesive on them as with the powder method and the stamp stays clean. When you are done, it looks like you have a shrink wrapped rubber stamp; the plastic peels off easily.
Once my stamps are cut out, I put them into clear plastic bags or clear envelopes like this one. I put the dies in rubber side up so that they are not stored with the cling cushion sticking to the plastic. The paper on the other side is stamped with the various images in the envelope. They then are stored with my mounted stamps. (See the previous “Temporary Stamp Mounting” post.)
So that’s it. Catching up on mounting stamps is giving me all kinds of “new” stamps to use and there is nothing like a new stamp to inspire some stamping don’t you think?