Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Holy Grail of Stamp Material!

My family is often bemused by what puts an ear to ear grin on my face. They all think I'm completely loopy, I'm sure. No, it isn't a clothes buying spree or expensive dinners out. None of my family would call me dear to run, in fact it is a standing joke how cheap I am to keep!  I don't drink alcohol, smoke or buy expensive clothes. I swear to you, that even if I were to get mega rich, I'd not buy clothes anywhere more expensive than Marks and Spencer. Ok, maybe I'd have some hand made shoes, but only for the sake of comfort!

No, what puts a big smile on my face is finding a way to do something in the craft world that I have been trying to do for ages. In this particular case, finding something that I can cut with my Silver Bullet, to make delicate stamps. I mean REALLY delicate.

Previously I have made stamps, mostly from craft foam of varying thicknesses.  I've even cut them the wrong way round by mistake...

Like that one. Trouble is, that the foam has to be thin to do the delicate stuff but then it sometimes breaks. Possible but not easy. Not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination.  The bigger, chunkier designs are easier and quite successful in the thicker foam.

As it happens, I stumbled upon something brilliant today. Quite by accident.  I was looking for something to protect my desk while I do some air brushing. I had used a dustbin liner but with the window open, it's too light weight. So I bought some of this.

It's a common type of vinyl tablecloth, sold by the metre for using in the summer on outdoor tables. On the back it looks like this

Now at this point, before you rush to buy some - make sure the top surface is not textured!

I just decided to snip a few inches off and try it out. First, I cut a little flower to stamp this..

Not too shabby!

I held my breath while it cut out a really thin, small swirl design and stamped this one. VERY thin lines. I used a 60 blade, not a new one by any means, on no1 blade setting and a force of 150 and it cut it in one pass. I have also used a newer 45 blade, set on 1, at a pressure of 125 and a speed of 500 without a hitch. It needs to have a high tack mat though.

Video on various materials.     NB - forgot to mention in the video, the other problem with the very thin plastic is avoiding getting ink/paint where you don't want it! 

TIP  If you are using a thin material and are worried about over printing - ink it up on scrap paper and then use a pin or fine tweezers to put it on your block, rather than mount on acetate.  If you do that, keep your stamps in an old jewel CD case to keep them safe and untangled! Spot the 'deliberate' mistake when I printed the tree with the back of the stamp?  I really must stop getting up so early...

So that's it. I'm happy I can cut whatever stamps I like, small lettering, flourishes, any of them. NOTE -If cutting lettering, adhere the material plastic side DOWN to get a clean cut. For some reason, you can't cut words easily any other way with this stuff, the backing causes issues. So basically you cut exactly as you want to print, not in reverse! You do need to take a leap of faith doing it though, the white backing means you can't see the cut. At all. Nothing. Only peeling the material away from the mat reveals success, or not.  It's pretty strong stuff and keeps the shape well, so comes of the mat without breaking.

 The tablecloth stuff isn't even expensive and it is sold in every hardware shop, Chinese store, department store in Spain. Considering I have 1.5m square or something like that, I think it will keep me going for a very long, long, time!
If you decide to try this, it's a good idea to mount your stamps on some acetate to help keep them in shape. I then use a temporary spray glue to then make them stick to the acrylic block while I stamp.

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