Using unmounted rubber stamps solves a thorny problem for many stamping enthusiasts -- that of finding storage space for a sizable collection.
In case the term confuses you, unmounted rubber stamps are rubber dies without the wooden backing or foam cushioning.
As well as being tiny, lightweight and easy to store, unmounted stamps are sold at a fraction of the cost of mounted stamps. Even better, the shipping fees are minimal if ordered online.
Unmounted stamps are sold at stamp conventions, on the Internet, and of course, you can find
On any given day, an Ebay search for " unmounted rubber stamps" will turn up hundreds of specimens.
Trimming and Mounting
Before using, unmounted stamps must first be trimmed and mounted.
Unmounted rubber stamps often require trimming before they are ready to use. Excess rubber around the edges will leave unwanted smudges of ink when you are stamping. Also, unmounted or UMs as they are called, are often sold in sheets -- an economical way of acquiring several stamps at once. Sheets of stamps must be both cut and trimmed.
To do this, you need a sturdy pair of precision scissors. Many of us find that Kai scissors are the best available for this type of work. You can purchase them from www.kaiscissors.com, or from various online rubber stamp shops. I bought mine from Blockhead Stamps, along with other mounting supplies. This gal offers excellent products and customer service. (I have no relationship with her, other than being a satisfied customer).
When trimming, be sure to hold the scissors straight up and down, perpendicular to the rubber. Avoid slanting to the side. Holding the scissors at a slant will result in diagonal rubber that leaves unwanted marks when stamping.
There are many methods of mounting your unmounted rubber stamps. All use essentially three products besides the stamp -- a mount, a cushion, and glue. Experiment and find the one you like best.
Easy, Temporary Mountings
You will need a magazine or piece of foam for padding, temporary glue of some sort (many stampers recommend Aleene's Tack-It Over & Over glue), and a hard object for backing, such as a piece of wood or acrylic. If you are using Tack=It Over, spread the glue on the back of the rubber die, and allow to dry. Then, stick the back of your trimmed rubber on the wood or whatever you are using for a mount. Place your stamping paper on a magazine or piece of foam. Ink the stamp and stamp as usual. Remove the stamp from its temporary backing. This technique works, but some find it a little messy and inconvenient.
Permanent, Wood Mounting
In my view, this negates the storage aspect of using unmounted rubber stamps. Also, if you have to purchase your wood mounts, you have negated the economy as well. However, maybe you have a woodshop in your back yard and can get your blocks of wood sized and cut easily. If so, you will need glue and foam padding. The easiest way is to purchase foam with double-sided adhesive.
Remove the release paper from one side of foam, then place the back of the rubber die on the sticky surface. Cut the foam around the rubber, being sure to hold the scissors perpendicular to the edge. Remove the release paper from the second side of the foam, and attach to your wood mounts.
The EZ Mount System
This is the system I use personally. You require hard acrylic blocks for temporary mounting, and padding foam that has adhesive on one side and Cling Vinyl on the other.
The acrylic blocks have a second advantage. Since they are transparent, you can see exactly where you are stamping.
You cut the foam to a size just a bit bigger than the unmounted rubber stamp. Peel back the release paper to expose the adhesive, then attach the back of the rubber die. Trim the excess foam, using a perpendicular motion of the scissors. Remove the release paper from the other side of the vinyl, exposing the Cling Vinyl.
To stamp, rub the Cling Vinyl on your sleeve, creating static electricity. Place the stamp vinyl-side down on one of the hard acrylic blocks. Static electricity holds it in place. Stamp as usual. For best results, place your stamping paper on foam or a magazine.
HALOS Rubber Stamp System
This system uses acrylic mounts, a looped tape reminiscent of Velcro, and of course, your rubber stamp. HALOS stands for "Hooked and Looped on Stamps".
You trim the excess rubber from your die, as before. Peel the backing off the self-adhesive HALOS Loop Tape, and stick the two together permanently. No additional cushioning is needed. To stamp, place the loopy side of the tape on the HALO acrylic block, do your stamping, then remove from the block.