Today we are going to discuss the differences between acrylic and photopolymer stamps; as well as how to store and care for them. If you are looking for information on rubber stamps, click here.
Acrylic stamps are less expensive and “cheaper” (in more ways than one!) than photopolymer and more “stretchy” to the feel. They are lighter in weight, look “sduller” than photopolymer, and don’t stick to acrylic blocks very well, especially after time. They will sometimes get stuck to the backing sheet if they are older and will tear when you try to pull them off. When you see stamps by Fiskars, Recollections,and some of the larger scrapbooking companies such as Kaisercraft, Echo Park, etc., those are acrylic. They are also usually made in China.
When you ink up an acrylic stamp, the ink tends to “bead up” on the stamp and therefore, when you stamp, you do not get a crisp, clean impression. It is usually “blotchy” and uneven. There are things you can do to make them stamp better such as inking the stamp with versmark ink and then with your colored ink and stamping or using an eraser on the stamp before stamping, but in my opinion, acrylic stamps just aren’t worth buying. With that being said, there is only one brand of acrylic stamps I will use and they are the Penny Black brand stamps. I am not sure what is different about them and other acrylic stamps but I have better luck stamping with them than any others.
Photopolymer stamps are higher quality and the difference between photopolymer and acrylic are nothing short of amazing. Photopolymer stamps are made to transfer ink so the ink sticks to the stamp extremely well, giving you a crisper, cleaner image. They are heavier and less stretchy than acrylic and more “clear & shiny” than acrylic. They usually have an “odor” or “smell” when you first open them where acrylic does not. If you hold an acrylic stamp in one hand and photopolymer stamp in another, you can feel the difference, it’s hard to explain in a blog post but there is a definite difference.
When you are shopping for clear stamps always be sure to look for “polymer or photopolymer” if you want the high quality stamps. Photopolymer stamps are usually made in the US. Here is a list of my favorite photopolymer stamp companies from last year.
Tips for storing clear stamps:
- Store your stamps away from the light. This includes fluorescent, uv and sunlight (even from a window!). They will yellow over a short amount of time in just the tiniest bit of sunlight.
- Do not store your stamps on vinyl, acetate, or cellulose acetate. Also, avoid plastics with PVC (Polyvinylchloride).
- Do not store clear stamps on the inside of CD cases, if you use cd cases to store your stamps, use an insert like . (You can also laminate a sheet of cardstock and cut it down to store your stamps on). The chemicals in the cd case will “melt” your stamps to a point where you cannot get them off of the cd case because they become “one” (ask me how I know this LOL).
Products known to be safe to store clear stamps on:
Polypropylene plastics such as Avery Elle Stamp & Die Storage Pockets, PVC emission-free cd/dvd pockets, and sheet protectors.
Polyethylene (PE) such as ziploc bags
*Updated to add DVD/Stamp Storage Cases 12/19/15
DVD/Stamp Storage Cases known to be safe:
This is how I store my regular and small stamp sets. I also store my larger sets on Stampin’ Up stamp storage cases and some rubber stamps in these Crafter’s Companion Storage Binders with Panels.
Stamp Cleaning Tips:
- Do not use Staz On Cleaner on your clear stamps, it can damage them.
- Dye Inks will stain your clear stamps but that does NOT affect the quality of the stamped image. It’s just a cosmetic issue.
- To clean your clear stamps, you can use a baby wipe, an absorber shammy (cut into small pieces and kept damp) or a stamp cleaner such as Hero Arts/Stewart Superior Ultra Clean. Here is a blog post and video demonstrating this stamp cleaner.
- If your stamps ever lose their stickiness or become dusty, rinse them off with dishwashing liquid and warm water and they will be like new again!
A lot of your stamping results will depend on the stamp quality, the ink quality and the paper quality. Here are some blog posts and videos I’ve done about inks and here is one about my favorite cardstocks. It’s also very helpful to stamp on a soft, squishy surface using a stamping pad (or mouse pad) such as this one that I use. (I use a smaller version of this mat but it is no longer available so this is the same one but in a larger size)
If I missed anything or you have more questions about clear stamps, acrylic stamps or photopolymer stamps, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.
The products I mentioned in this blog post are listed and linked for your convenience below: