History of Rubber Stamping - Inkpads

Last Updated 10/14/09

by Debbie Hamman

The basic supply for any die-hard stamp artist is the stamp and ink. Early stamp pads around the mid 1850's were awful. The inks smelled and the stamp pads were made of gelatin, which became a gooey mess during hot weather.

In 1880, B.G. Volger pioneered stamp pads. In 1884 Volger poured the gelatin into boxes and covered them with felt. Excelsior Stamp Pads were soon sold around the country. By 1908 he perfected a formula for quick drying, non-smear ink and eliminated the odor.

Today there are many different kinds of inks and stamp pads sold on the market.

Felt Stamp Pad -- commonly found in office supply stores. They consist of a thick felt base covered with fabric and usually come in 5 basic colors--black, blue, green, red, and purple.

Dye Based Pads -- a most recent invention. Clearsnap developed the first dye-based pad in 1994. Dries quickly and comes in acid free inkpads in a variety of colors. Companies like Memories, Vivid, and Inkadinkado sell dye base pads.

Pigment Stamp Pads -- Have been around since the early cavemen days. Pigment paint was used for the walls. The coloring agent in pigment is stable and non-reactive with other materials. If you are in hot and humid weather, pigment stamp pads work the best because of the ink particles. Companies that sell pigment inkpads today include Colorbox, Brillance, and Antiquities.

Specialty inks make it possible to stamp on just about any surface--fabric, wood, candle, leather, plastic, food, glass, chinaware, metal and even skin.

Ink manufacturers try to make their lines unique. Fresco has added chalk to their inkpads. Fabrico makes it possible to do fabric stamping.

Basic Specialty Inks:

Fingerprint -- used by the police and usually comes in black and is washable.

Laundry ink -- used primarily in hospitals and military to label clothes.

Meat branding ink -- edible ink, water soluble and safe for food and skin.

Disappearing ink -- used by quilters and needle artists. Tinted with pink or blue hues, which disappear when wet.

Permanent Ink -- dries by evaporation and is different from pigment and dye based inks. Used on shrink plastic.

Important Stamp Hygiene To Keep In Mind

Keep a blank piece of paper handy and drag stamp over it to remove leftover ink

Dirty stamps make color switching hazardous to a project. Clean them with baby wipes, toothbrush or commercial stamp cleaners

NEVER use oil solvents to clean stamps. It's a kiss of death to rubber

Keep reinkers on hand when using that favorite stamp pad

The type of stamp pad is a personal preference. It is recommended that you experiment with a variety that is out there on the market. You never know which one you will fall in love with.


The Rubber Stamp Album by Joni Miller & Lowry Thompson 1973

Rubberstamping for Fun and Profit by Maria Nerius 2000

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