You might actually be doing it wrong.
There is a little more to just pressing a stamp into ink, then pressing it onto a piece of paper. There is actually some science (if you want to call it that) behind it. And, it might actually work better than the method mentioned above. By reading crafting magazines (specifically scrapbooking), I've learned a thing or two about stamping. Canadian Scrapbooker magazine is particularly helpful; each issue has a section devoted specifically to stamping and different methods and techniques. Cathy Allen is amazing- she makes incredible art using different stamping techniques. You'd never guess her work is 100% stamped! As I already mentioned, there's more to stamping than just inking it, getting it straight, and pressing it onto paper. Like what? Well, it helps to flip your stamp over and press the ink to the stamp, to ensure a thicker and more even ink application to your stamp; instead of rocking the stamp back and forth a bit when you've pressed it to the paper, press straight down and lift straight back up. That eliminates the "halo" effect once your image is stamped. And lastly, there are tools out there to help keep your images straight, regardless of using acrylic or wood mounted stamps.
Stamping is pretty easy. But, if your plan is to attempt creating an image that's crisp, clear and flawless, try these steps. Your image may not always turn out perfect; if not, roll with it! For example, while working on these pillow boxes, the image I wanted to stamp didn't come out as nicely as I would have liked it. Originally. Then I thought, 'why not go with a more vintage look, instead'? So, I inked the edges, and made it seem as though I had intentionally stamped that way.
Pressure- and even amounts of it- is important. Which is why it actually turns out to be easier to flip your stamp upside down, and use the ink pad to ink your stamp, rather than pressing the stamp into the ink pad. I find its especially helpful when you've got a large stamp that you want inked. You might find a brayer makes inking large stamps easier. That naturally leads us to how to correctly stamp an image.
After you've inked your stamp, flip it to the correct side and press the stamp straight down onto the piece of paper. Don't rock the stamp back and forth; it'll create a "halo"- basically the ink that's gathered along the edges of the stamp being transferred to the paper along with your stamped image. If that's the look you're going for- congrats! You achieved it! (Such as using the technique I vaguely mentioned above). If not, you'll curb the natural impulse to rock that stamp. Lift straight up once you've finished stamping the image, and you should have a perfect image left on that paper! Cut it out, colour it or ink the edges- do whatever you want once your image is stamped.
What happens when you've stamped your image but you're not happy with it? Say its crooked. Feel defeated? A little deflated? I know, it happens way too easily and sometimes way too often. Have no fear- there are tools out there to help you stamp a straight image- without fail- every single time! If you're an acrylic stamp user, you may find using stamping blocks with grid lines painted on them useful. Use the grid lines as guides to help keep your images straight. Generally, I try to line up the lines on the stamping block with the bottom and side edges of the paper I'm stamping on. More often than not, I cut the image out once its stamped. I hate fussy cutting but can't seem to get away from it. I do it every. single. time! It isn't always stamped perfectly straight, but its close enough that no one will notice it. I like using them, but I would like to try a stamping system such as Cathie Allens' Position-it tool. It's basically an L-shaped tool that helps keep your images straight. They are especially useful for wood mounted stampers, since its virtually impossible to see where you're stamping your image. From what I gather, line up your stamp with the guides, and stamp. You'll have a perfect image every time. I have not tried one, and the only place I know of that sells them is Canadian Scrapbooker. There might be more, similar items out there, called by different names. But, I would LOVE to try it. I use both acrylic and wood mounted stamps. I find they are equal- one isn't more superior than another. I like acrylic slightly better as its possible to see where your stamped image will be on the paper.
Did you know there's etiquette involved with stamping? What techniques do you find most useful to achieve clear and crisp stamped images? And lastly, will this change the way you currently stamp? It was good food for thought for me. Maybe it will be for you, too!