IOD Products 101: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About IOD Stamps
For anyone who hasn’t used IOD stamps before, they’re essentially what they sound like: A clear stamp - but it doesn’t stop there!
While similar in function to stamps you used as a child -- IOD stamps are magical (no kidding!). They have the power to transform a piece of junk found on the side of the road to a show-stopping piece of home decor that you’ll have to convince your husband you didn’t spend your entire monthly budget on. For reals, they are that good.
And DIY home decor is just the tip of the creative iceberg. IOD stamps can be used in food art and DIY lifestyle projects, like taking a boring pair of jeans and stamping a beautiful bohemian design down the pant leg.
How to Prep IOD Stamps
Did you just get your very first set of IOD stamps - beyond exciting, right?!? But before you can get your hands dirty, you need to condition your stamps. You only need to do this once and then your stamps will be set for life.
Start by removing the acrylic sheet attached to the stamping side of the design, while leaving the stamps attached to their backing sheet. Using a fine grit sand block scuff or rough up the stamping surface. Lightly sand in one direction and then rotate the craft stamp 90 degrees and sand lightly in a different direction.
This helps the mediums stay put, and not bead (which some types, like ceramics glazes, tend to do). It also will give a cleaner impression.
To remove the backing or not to remove the backing
Some of our stamps work best if you pull the stamp off the backing and use a thin mount when stamping. Others work best if you leave the backing on and then there are some that we keep the backing on, but cut each stamp out separately. Let’s break down what you should do with which types of stamps.
Any letter or alpha stamp set such as Typesetting, Farmhand, Retro and Swoosh: Remove the stamp from the backing when ready to use (this takes some force, but don’t worry, the stamps are strong). Arrange the stamps design side down on your project, then lay an acrylic thin mount on top. Press to adhere the stamps to the thin mount and then apply your medium. When you’re done using your letter stamps, clean them and stick them to the backing for storage.
Any stamp that comes as a sheet such as Carrara Marble, Craquelure, Distressed, Chippy Paint, Kindest Regards and Cubano: Leave the stamp in one piece on the backing and the backing will work as your mounting surface.
Individual Stamps with Multiple Designs
The majority of our stamps fall into this category. Examples are Painterly Rose, Pavo, Fronds, and Crockery: Leave the stamps on the backing. Cut each design out separately making sure to round the edges of the backing when you cut. The backing will work as your mounting surface.
Different Mounts for Different Surfaces
IOD Thin Mount with Grid & Curved Guidelines
This is recommended for surfaces that are perfectly flat, for example, if you are doing word art on a wood sign. Use the grid or curved lines as guides for the lettering layout and for centering your stamps on the project surface.
This is what we call it when you use a flexible piece of plastic, such as the backing sheet that came with the stamps, as a mounting device.. This is great for irregular surfaces such as walls or furniture (surprisingly, many furniture surfaces that appear flat have dips- this method will conform nicely).
This is when you use the stamp without mounting it to anything. There are two common scenarios that call for no mount. When you’re stamping a very curved surface, such as on a flower pot or around the corner of a dresser.
When you need the stamps to have a little stretch For example, I stamped the front of my cowboy boots, and was able to stretch the stamp and conform it cleanly to the surface even though the boot is very curved. When using the bare stamp make sure that your fingers don’t stick to it, this could cause the stamp to lift from the surface and create an unintentional smudge.
This specialty mount is in a class of its own. It’s a mount with a rigid edge for gripping but a flexible area for mounting your stamp. Then, when you stamp, it assists with applying even pressure on curved surfaces to give a clear impression.
Whichever mounting method you use, the backside of the stamps and the mount must be perfectly clean in order for the stamp to cling firmly to the surface. If you find that your stamp isn’t sticking to your mount, wash it in warm soapy water or, for a quick fix, you can wipe it clean with a baby wipe.
Paint works wonderfully with IOD Stamps. When using paint we recommend creating a small puddle to roll an IOD Brayer in. Make sure you get an even load and roll onto the design side of the mounted (or if using unmounted, proceed accordingly) stamp. This part takes a little practice to get the feel of the load so that it’s enough to give you the impression you want without being sloppy. Also keep in mind variables such as the surface you are stamping, the medium you are using, as well as the look you are trying to achieve.
IOD Décor Inks work best with IOD stamps, however most other craft inks will work as well (depending on the project surface). Ink gives finer detail and tends to be a little more translucent than paint.
Edible gel paste
Stamping cookies and cakes couldn’t be easier. Using the same techniques as you do for paint, roll the gel paste onto the stamp with a brayer and stamp all the sweet treats. (Just make sure not to use the same set of stamps for food and non-food projects.) Click here for a tutorial on stamping cookies.
Perfect for if you’re looking to personalize some cheap dishes or just love the look of embossed images. Click here for a tutorial on embossing plain white dishes with IOD stamps.
How to fill an ink pad
Step 1: Shake your ink bottle well before filling your ink pad. This ensures that any pigment that may have settled is fully mixed. We recommend using the blank stamp pads to apply the ink (one for each color), then pat the surface of the stamp with it.
Step 2: Starting along the outer edge, squeeze a line of ink going along the perimeter of the pad. Repeat this process, going in ever smaller rectangles until the entire pad is covered with ink.
Step 3: Stop squeezing the ink bottle and use the tip to work the ink into the pad until it’s absorbed into the surface.
Store your ink pads upside down so the ink stays on the surface. Also, if it’s been awhile since you last used an ink pad, add additional ink to refresh the surface.
Surfaces and Applications
Both painted and stained furniture can be stamped. In fact, this is one of the most common uses for our stamps. You can use ink or paint, but generally we like the look of paint for furniture.
When stamping fabric the load of medium should be generous in order to penetrate the fibers. This means make sure your ink pad or brayer is extra juicy with ink or paint when loading the stamp.
You’ll also want to spend a little extra time with the stamp pressed on the fabric surface to give the fibers time to absorb the medium.
The look will be different with different levels of fabric texture. For example, stamping a high thread count pillow will look different from stamping burlap. Décor Ink, chalk paint and other fabric suitable mediums work well.
The ideal material for permanent washables is 100 percent cotton. However, blends and some other natural fibers can sometimes work as well.
Do a small test to be sure. Allow your newly stamped fabric to dry/cure for a minimum of 24 hours, then heat set with an iron on high heat before washing.
Walls and Floors
Walls are a fabulous surface opportunity for stamping. Create all over patterns that are a level up from wallpaper, and completely custom, or use the IOD stamps to create an old world border. We love using paint for wall applications!
Using a soft gel paste, you can stamp royal icing and fondant to take your desserts from dull to delectable! This technique uses a brayer to apply the gel paste to the stamp.
You can use stamps to decorate pottery with glazes before firing or with embossing powder after. Or you can stamp wet clay to create beautiful impressions.
Caring for your stamps
We find that the easiest way to care for and clean stamps is to keep wet wipes nearby, and avoid letting the medium dry all the way on the stamp surface.
Then, when you have time, wash them with mild soap and warm water. For some mediums you may find that you need a stamp cleaner. Use one that is safe for clear stamps. After thoroughly cleaned, place them back on the clear backing for storage
DO NOT use your stamps in high heat applications. This means puh-lease do NOT put them in the dishwasher or leave them in a hot car otherwise they will be more like shrinky-dinks than stamps. (Yikes!)
Top Tips for Stamping
- Hover the stamp over your project surface to line up where you want to stamp before stamping.
- Once you're ready to stamp, COMMIT and don’t shift. That means, once your stamp makes contact with the surface, keep it there otherwise you might unintentionally smudge or create a double image.
- Use one hand to hold the stamp, then use your other hand to run your fingers over all the details of the stamp - apply even pressure and ensure good contact.
- Lift the stamp straight up off the project surface when done stamping, again being careful not to shift.
- Wipe your stamp clean with wipes immediately after use to prevent the medium from drying on the stamp.
- Last, and most important: Practice makes perfect! Stamping isn’t hard, but it does take a little practice to get it just right - especially as you try new medium and different surfaces to get it just right.
After you’ve gotten a feel for stamping (remember - “commit, don’t shift” and PRACTICE) and you’re ready to take it to the next level - learn how to mask.
The purpose of masking is to create visual layers on your project without disrupting or muddying the original stamped image. The mask covers and protects the stamped image so that no impression is made on top of it with overlapping stamps. This keeps your designs crisp and clear.
Masking creates the impression of a foreground and a background on your projects.
You can make you own masks by stamping a piece of paper with the stamp you want to use and then cutting it out along the edge of the design. Or you can use the pre-cut reusable plastic masks included with our 2020 stamps releases. You just need to separate each mask from the sheet by gently separating along the perforated lines.
Before masking, you want to make sure your initial stamped image is dry otherwise you will smudge it when you lay the mask down. Unsealed surfaces are porous and will have a relatively quick drying time. But if you’re stamping on a sealed surface, you’ll want to wait longer to allow for adequate drying before masking.
To mask, simply line up the mask with the stamped design, laying it on top to protect the image. Then you can continue stamping the next layer.
When planning a project that uses masking, you need to think in reverse order. This means stamping what you want to be in ‘front,’ or in the foreground, first. Background, or images that appear in the under layers, are stamped last when you mask.
Other advanced techniques that you can use with stamps are the Batik technique, wet-on-wet flooding, dip pens and more. We show you how to do each one in detail in this tutorial.
Creating Texture with Paint
This technique creates a plastered finish. In addition to an IOD stamp, you’ll also need chalk or mineral-type paint and a rubber spatula or spreader.
Spread an even, thick layer of paint on the surface of your project. Then allow the paint to set up just enough to maintain some structure, but not fully dry. When stamping, use a bit more pressure than you normally would to stamp to create an impression.
Once dry, you can color wash or even layer on and scrape off a different color paint to accent the stamp impression.
Roll out an even slab of IOD Air Dry Clay to your desired thickness. Press the stamp design into the surface, again applying more pressure than usual to make sure all the stamp details are pushed into the clay. Remove the stamp.
To make the impression look less puffed up and pillow-y, lay a thin mount on top of the impression and gently apply even pressure to smooth the surface of the clay.
Let dry and apply a color wash to make the impression pop!
To see this technique in action, check out this tutorial.
Do you have more questions about how to use IOD Stamps?
Reach out to your local stockist as they’re happy to help and show you, hand-over-hand, all the techniques shared here.
To find the stockist near you, use our store locator by clicking here. Or, if you prefer to shop online, you can find an online stockists by clicking here. You can also use our customer service contact form and we’ll get back to you lickity-split.