History of Rubber Stamping - Tools

Last Updated 10/14/09

by Debbie Hamman

Ever since the first person put stamped image to paper, rubber-stamping has gone through thousands of changes and uses.

The first major place to use the stamp was the US Post Office. By the year 1938, the Post Office had over 170,000 rubberstamps to handcancel the mail. With the invention of the Xerox machine in the late 50's, mail art and stamps have expanded individual's creativity.

Other tools have come into use throughout history in rubber stamped art. The inkpad and inks have been reformulated to add dimension and texture to the design. Simple dye pads have given way to specialized inks for a variety of surfaces. Here are basic supplies used by most stamp artists today. How does your supply list compare?


No longer do you have to just use the plain old white glue from school. You now can use glues for fabric, shrink plastic, glass, metal, wood, and papers. In 1940, Elmer's Glue was introduced and ten years later came Aleene's Tacky Glue with Modge Podge being introduced in the 1970's. Glue has come along way. Every time you hit the craft store, you find a new glue and another new way to use it.

Scissors and Punches

Before the invention of decorative scissors, most crafters could only use straight scissors or pinking shears. There are over 50 different decorative blades on the market. Decorative scissors used to cost $10 for a pair, now most run around $4. Popularity reduced the cost.

Every teacher and every office worker has a hole punch. Classroom use can include punch-outs for art projects, bulletin board displays, and grading papers. Punches with decorative designs have not only changed the teacher's selection, but also the stamp artist and scrapbooker. No one really knows who started using fancy punches first--the stamper or the scrapbooker.

Today in addition to punches, there are die-cut machines and other embellishments. Die cut machines have been around the classroom since the early 80's for use on bulletin boards and projects. The newest one on the market is the Sizzix machine. A smaller version of its big brother.

Embossing Powder and Heat Guns

Most stamp artists had not used embossing powder in a project till the 1980's. The two most common powders are opaque and clear. In the early days of embossing, you had to use a toaster oven, light bulb, or iron to melt the powder. Heat guns that were originally used by construction workers in the 1950's were restructured for the crafter and introduced in the 1980's.

Heat guns not only melt the powder, but also can be used to melt shrink plastic, quick dry ink, or other substances.


Not too many people use crimping devises to alter the look of paper, but have been around since the early 1990's. Paper crimpers were originally sold to squeeze out the last bit of paint. Someone tried them on paper and new technique was born! The supply list goes on and on and on. Every time you pick up a rubber stamp magazine, go to a convention or shop at a local stamp store, you see new inks, tools, brayers, powders, and learn about new surfaces to stamp on.

You have become a stamping addict and will never look at a simple item the same way again. If is doesn't move, stamp on it!

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