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Have you ever wished you could draw or paint, but felt you did not have the talent? Then maybe you should try your hand at rubber stamp art. Rubber stamps have been around for hundreds of years. They were developed after the printing presses. Initially, rubber stamps were used for businesses, such as banks, and as children's toys. Rubber stamp art became an art form along with mail art in the 1960's. It can bring out the creativity in everyone and makes a great hobby. Rubber stamps can make anyone an artist. It is fast becoming a mainstream craft form. Supplies and accessories can be found at many craft stores.

You will need some basic supplies before you can begin your stamping adventure. You will need at least three stamps, a couple of stamp pads (one in black) and some good cardstock or paper. Stamp cleaner and paper towels are a necessity. If stamps are not cleaned in between uses of ink pads in different colors, you will end up with muddy colors on your paper and dirty ink pads. There are many optional accessories, but the following are some you might want to try right away: Embossing powders and a heat gun are fun accessories. Embossing powders come in many colors and when heated with a heat gun give your stamped images a raised and elegant look. Water-based markers and colored pencils are extremely useful and provide a way to add color to your images. There are many more materials available. Also, several magazines cater to this craft, such as "The Rubber Stamper", "Stampin' Arts and Crafts", and the original "Rubberstampmadness." Many instruction books are also available.

To begin stamping, it is best to decide on your design. You could design it in your mind or practice on a piece of scrap paper. A good layout might consist of one large stamp as your focal point, a word or phrase stamp, and some little background stamps. Once you are satisfied with your idea, it is time to start stamping your card.

First, ink the stamp thoroughly with an ink pad. Make sure it is well inked before you stamp it on the paper. Press down firmly on the stamp, but DO NOT wiggle or rock the stamp for that could blur your image. Water-based markers could be used at this stage instead of ink pads. You can color directly onto the stamp with the markers. Be sure not to use permanent markers as they can ruin your stamps. Markers give the flexibility of putting the color right where you want it on the stamp. After you've colored onto the stamp, breathe on it (it may have dried) and
stamp on the paper. This gives you greater color variety. It is especially useful if you don't have many stamp pads.

Embossing powders can be used at this point. After you've stamped onto the paper, immediately sprinkle the powder over the still wet image, covering completely. Pou then exces powder back into its container. Hold the heat gun over the image while it melts the embossing powder. Be sure to keep the heat gun moving and do not over emboss as you could burn the paper. After embossed, let it set and you will see a raised image similar to the embossing you see on professionally printed cards. It's not a requirement to emboss, but it sure is a beautiful embellishment. Embossing brings a whole different look to the image.

Since the images are now stamped and possibly embossed onto the paper, they can further be enhanced with color. The markers can be used to color in the images on the paper, too, like a coloring book. Stay in the lines and fill in completely. You could also use colored pencils to add color. Your card should now look complete and finished.

Rubber stamping is not limited to paper. you can stamp on just about anything, wood, walls, T-shirts, canvas, velvet, and other fabrics. In adition, you can stamp on clay and shrink plastic to make jewelry. There is no end to the possibilities.

You might spend more on stamps and materials, but you may never buy another card at the store again. Everyone loves homemade cards and gifts! Remember, rubber stamp art is art for all!!!