Oh, the treasures you can find when you clean up your stamp room!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been sorting through and rearranging my stamp area, a little at a time. In the process, I pulled out more still-unmounted stamps purchased via mail and at conventions YEARS ago than I want to admit. (Too many grab bags!)
Some of them I have actually used via the cheater’s temporary stamp mounting method: slap some double-faced tape on an acrylic block, stick the unmounted die in place and then stamp. It works, but it’s not the best way to do things, as you can get less than wonderful impressions.
But there were some stamps that had never touched ink. Plus, my unmounted stamps were stored in a different place than my mounted stamps, so I tended to use the same mounted stamps all the time, neglecting my unmounteds. Determined to correct this, I ordered five sheets of EZ Mount cushion from my local supply source (Nona’s Designs here in Maryland who ships fast) and then spent many hours over several days mounting stamp dies on cushion.
Mounting a lot of stamp dies on cushion really gives you an appreciation for the people at stamp companies who have to do this all the time. Yes, they sometimes have streamlined die-cut methods of doing this that the average stamper doesn’t, but it is still time consuming and tedious. After doing seven sheets of unmounted stamps (two I had plus the five I ordered), I have to say that I really favor purchasing stamps that are already on cling cushion and trimmed. Yes, completely unmounted stamps are the least expensive, but being able to pull a cling mounted stamp out of the package to use right away is a treat that is worth the extra cost to me! But I had lots of rubber dies that needed cushion, so it had to be done.
In the early days of stamping, we used rubber cement to attach one side of the cushion to the rubber stamp die and the other side to a wood block. As our stamp collections swelled, we started experimenting with multiple ways to temporarily mount stamps, both to save storage space and to save on purchase cost. Over the years, I’ve tried most of them, including hook-and-loop systems, various types of cling mount systems, and sticky glue systems, but the one that I’ve finally settled on is cling cushion. I like that it sticks easily to an acrylic block and storage is flexible; it can be stored in envelopes or on storage cards or pages. Everyone is different; this is just what works best for me.
The one thing I don’t like about cling cushion is that it is sticky to work with during the mounting process. One side of the cushion is covered with adhesive. This is the side where you lay down all the stamps. The other side has the cling coating. The sticky issue comes up when you have to handle the cushion as you cut around the stamp dies. The exposed bits of sticky adhesive tend to get on your hands and then that transfers to the stamp dies. Then you have to clean the stray adhesive off the rubber so it won’t interfere with inking the stamp.
Like most stampers, I try to use as much of the cushion as possible, placing smaller stamp dies in little areas of exposed adhesive, but there are always open areas that remain. I don’t know who thought of this originally, but for a long time, stampers have used powder to get around this sticky problem. If you cover the exposed adhesive with powder, then you can handle it without getting a ton of adhesive on your hands. Here I’m using a sprinkling of baby powder to coat the adhesive.
You don’t need a lot of powder. If you sprinkle some around the sheet and then whack the sheet a few times, the powder will redistribute over the adhesive. You’ll get some on the rubber dies too, but this little bit wipes off fairly easily later. You’ll still get stickiness from the edges of the cushion on your scissors as you cut, but the powder still helps tremendously. And the scissors are easy to clean with a little Goo-Gone.
Then you just need to cut out the rubber dies. Here I am using short-bladed Kai scissors, being careful not to undercut the rubber. You can approach this process in different ways. Some people like to rough cut the dies loosely, put them on the cushion and then cut through both the die and the cushion together, cutting more closely. This has the advantage of making it easier to have the cushion and the die cut exactly the same. But it can waste cushion and my scissors could frankly use a good sharpening, making cutting through both the rubber and the cushion less precise than I would like. I found that I did better closely trimming the rubber dies first and then trimming away the cushion along the rubber dies’ edges.
Sometimes you can cut right along the edges immediately; other times you need to rough cut the stamp and cushion and then trim more closely. Large images with fairly long straight or curved lines are easy to cut out. Dies with a lot of in’s and out’s and a lot of detail can be tedious to cut out.
Once I cut out each sheet of dies, I did a test stamping of each stamp. I used the test stamping as an index of sorts, putting the index and stamp in a plastic bag. I’ll show you how I’m storing them along side my mounted stamps in tomorrow’s blog post.