Friday, January 15, 2010

Review of Stampin Up! Clear Mount Stamps

Clear stamp enthusiasts everywhere are rejoicing just a bit, I think, at the introduction by Stampin' Up! of their new clear mount stamps. Basically, the stamps are still rubber stamps, but have a cling texture backing that allows them to be used as repositionable stamps.

Stampin' Up! touts this innovation as the cat's meow because you can still have (as they say, more or less) superior stamped images while gaining more storage space. They don't say that you get more accurate placement because the die-cut stamps don't QUITE match the accursed labels (more on that later). They say to use the Stamp-a-ma-jig for perfect placement.

I've got to point out one thing, however, that the idea that you can't have a perfectly clear stamped image with clear stamps is flat WRONG. You just have to make sure you're using pigment or chalk inks. The clear stamp material doesn't cling to the dye inks. They coagulate on the surface of the stamp, which is why many stampers say they don't like clear stamps because they get blotchy or unclear images. (I use this to my advantage quite frequently, actually, with dark brown dye ink in particular, such as the Distress Vintage Photo or Tea Dye, to get an instant vintage look.) I've said it before and I will say it again: To get good images with clear stamps, use chalk or pigment ink. You've also got to figure out how hard to press to get a good image. Clear stamps squish more than rubber stamps.

Writing in bold makes me feel very authoritative and important.
But I'll stop now. I was mainly excited by the Stampin' Up! release because of the extra storage and also because the prices are lower. They're not significantly lower. But any savings is a savings and in the end, less money spent per set means I get to get more stamps.

I just got my first three clear mount stamps from Stampin' Up! today and had to get online right away to give you all (all three of you) my review.

-Cool idea... good images. Love the idea.
-DON'T buy the Stampin' Up! clear blocks for these, especially if you already have clear stamp blocks at home. Any of your clear blocks from JoAnn or Michael's will work. They're cheaper in general and you can use coupons. All of my blocks are from JoAnn and they work perfectly fine with these stamp sets.
-The labels are stupid and I hate them, but will always use them.
-The storage is kind of better, I suppose... The stamp sets come in DVD cases, essentially, so that's the size of your storage. It's thinner than the typical stamp set box, but also much longer, so you have to find a place for it, and unless you already store DVD sized things in your craft area, you'll probably have to figure out a place to store them.

Now... the labels. As I said, the labels are stupid and I hate them. What I'm talking about is the little label that goes on the back of the stamp itself so that you can see the stamp through the block. I had such a hard time with my first set that I decided to take pictures of the second set I labeled and hopefully help someone else out there with the tips I discovered after almost ruining one of my labels forever. (I saved it, thank God, but I think my years of craft experience helped me there... A newbie might not have the same luck.)

Here's what you get: Labels on the left, stamps on the right. Notice that they're oriented exactly the same. Keep this in mind, especially as you're doing the FLOWERS or any other image that doesn't have a definitive top and bottom. It's easiest to punch these only just before you get ready to attach the label, since the label is the exact same shape and size as the stamp. You can line it up better that way.

The labels are wicked sticky on one side, with the cling texture on the other. So if one of the labels pops out of the sheet... Wait a second, let me rephrase... When pretty much every single label pops out of the sheet as you're removing the backing, you're dealing with the sticky side up and the cling on the bottom. They curl like nothing else, too, so it's almost impossible to lay the thing flat again. The instructions say, very ideally, to peel the backing off of the label starting at the split. (They all have a little split.) My instructions are more like this:

Label Surgery 101:
-Use your needle tool skillfully to gently, gently part the split in the backing over the clear label. While holding the label backing down with your non-dominant hand, slide the label to the edge of the split and let it tear, lifting one section of the backing as shown in the photo below.
-Using the needle tool (because if this thing gets stuck to your fingers at any point, it's not coming off until it recoils from sufficient negative, murderous energy emanating from every pore of your being as you try, ever so carefully and slowly and GENTLY to unstick from your finger, then from the needle tool, then from your nail, then from the needle tool, then from the very tippy corner of your nail, then from the needle tool, on and on as it curls and sticks and laughs and taunts you to destroy it, knowing full well that you never will, because it's the ONLY one you have and it rests safely in its hateful inherent value to you), carefully peel the backing off, still pushing on most of the backing with your fingers, until you, quite miraculously, peel the backing off without pulling the stupid label out.

When (not if, I'm sad to say) one of your labels comes out:
-Don't lose your cool. That's what it wants.
-Using the needle tool, lay it back into its hole in the backing sheet as exactly as you can. Tilt the needle tool slightly and roll the needle and pull off to one side, using the tiny border of the backing sheet as a kind of holder for the label itself.

When you've successfully managed to get the label free, this is what it looks like:

-Punch the stamp out of the rubber sheet, peel off the backing paper from the stamp, and press the stamp into the label, lining it up as perfectly as you can.


When you've done all of them, you can push them into the back of the case like so:

Here it is from the back, with all of the labels in place:

Storage comparison... three clear sets with three regular sets. I'm not uber impressed by this savings of storage. But I AM impressed at the fact that there are little thumbnail images of every stamp right there on the spine. That was just a stroke of brilliance and I tip my hat to whoever at Stampin' Up! came up with this.

The final verdict: A wonderful product in general. I'm pleased with my purchases. Even the epic battle with the labels got my primitive blood pumping in a Xena, Warrior Princess kind of way. I felt important enough to do a blog post, anyway, and to type in bold for a bit. All in all, I'd recommend these stamps. They're the same quality that you've come to expect from Stampin' Up!, slightly cheaper, slightly more annoying to put together, and take up slightly less space.


  1. Thanks for the tips, these are exactly what I was browsing for!

  2. If you take the left over rubber and reveal the cling on it and stick back into your stamp box, you can stick your rubber stamps back into their holes that way they won't (should they get dirty) fall off the plastic and fall to the bottom possibly hurting the images.
    Just a thought, it's what I have been doing since the DVD boxes came out.

    1. YES! I didn't know that tip until much later. My mother-in-law, who is all things beautiful and brilliant, told me about that little tidbit. I think I have like four or five stamp sets without the frame and they're so annoying.

      The other good thing they do is keep you from having to press the stamp into the case itself to hold them in. Over time, I'm noticing that some of my labels are having a tendency to want to come off of the back of the stamp. Not pressing them into the case to be held is seeming to make them hold up better.

      I've gotten better at the labels. I think part of my problem was that the very first set I did was the Tiny Tags set which has 17 teeny-tiny labels to deal with. I was baptized with fire on these things, but I learned a lot, and now putting the labels on the back is no big deal.