Rubber Stamping isn't just for Paper!

Rubber stamping may bring to mind creating an image on paper, but with the new generation of permanent watercolor dye inks almost any surface can be stamped.

To include rubber stamping in your arts and crafts program, you need to consider that the initial investment of rubber stamps and inkpads, but both supplies have a long life if you take the time to clean the stamps and pads after use.

To clean stamps you need to dilute some all-purpose cleaner and use this solution along with an old toothbrush to scrub the surface of the rubber to remove residue inks. Some permanent inks may stain the rubber, but this will not harm the rubber as long as excess ink is removed.

Store the clean, dry stamps with the rubber side down out of direct sunlight and excessive heat. Take a paper towel and wipe across the inkpad until the primary color is all you see and the pad will last for several years.

You don't have to purchase new pads when the ink runs dry anymore since re-inkers (bottled inks with nozzle tips) are readily available at most stores that carry rubberstamping supplies. All you have to do is re-ink the inkpad.

Where the Leather Meets the Road

You may already include leather crafting in your arts and crafts program and introducing rubber stamp images into the mix will greatly expand your campers' imagination and creativity.

Remember that you do need to use permanent watercolor ink (watercolor in rubber stamp speak means the ink will hold up to water and not smudge), like Memories, Ancient Page and Fabrico.

Inkpad labels will list what surfaces the ink will bond on. Since leather is very porous you will also need to spray a light coat or two of aerosol sealer, fixative or finish over the completed project.

Recommended stamp images include alphabets, mini stamps, leaves, insects, flowers, hearts, stars, moons, camping motifs and sports. You can find rubber stamps sold in single images and sets.

Most rubber stamps come with wood or acrylic blocks or handles. However, there are stamps that are made totally of foam that tend to be lower priced. Young children may find the foam stamps harder to control than the ones mounted on wood handles.

Rubber stamping makes anyone an artist, and your campers will enjoy the feeling!


3-5 Rubber stamps plus alphabet stamp set

3-5 permanent watercolor inkpads

Leather wristbands (1 1/4" x 7")

Scrap paper

Optional: mini hole-less beads, paper plate and glue


1. Practice on scrap paper before attempting on the leather wristband. This way the camper can try several designs and will get the feel of how to stamp. You can even prepare several paper wristbands for each camper to practice on.

2. Start with name if you are personalizing the wristband. Find the center of the wristband and balance letters of name as equally as possible to each side of the center.

3. Ink stamp. Make sure all surface areas of the stamp image are covered with ink. Begin to stamp name onto wristband. Allow a few seconds for ink to dry.

4. Continue stamping the wristband with images of your choice. These designs were stamped randomly with some images going off the wristband edges. Your practice sheets will help you decide how you wish the finished project to look.

5. Allow the wristband to dry at least 10-15 minutes. Then line up the wristbands and spray a light coat of clear sealer over the wristbands. Let dry and repeat with another coat of sealer if desired.

Techniques Used

• Shadow or Second-Generation Stamping (see "Ben" project in the photos): Instead of using an inked rubberstamp directly to the leather, you will first stamp the inked image onto a scrap piece of paper, and then stamp onto the leather wristband. Instead of using the "first-generation" image, you are using the second-generation and even third- and fourth-generation images for a lighter (shadow) effect.

• Texture or Element Stamps (see "Mark" project in the photos): Texture and element stamps come in all sorts of patterns and designs. This project used spiral texture stamps. Texture stamps help you randomly fill in any open spaces in a design, giving you a full background. You can also get a more artsy, abstract feel to your stamped design by using texture and element stamp images.

• Embellishment (see "Heather" project in the photos): The flower wristband includes the embellishment of mini hole-less beads. Place a drop of glue at each flower center. Place wristband onto a paper plate or other container. Sprinkle mini beads over dots of glue. Tap off excess beads onto plate and return to original container. Allow glue to dry before continuing.

These wristbands were created with Leather Factory wristbands, Clearsnap Ancient Page inkpads and Krylon Clear Spray Sealer.

Maria Nerius has been designing and writing craft projects for 15 years and is the craft expert at If you have questions, comments, have craft ideas of your own, or would like to see a particular craft in an upcoming issue, e-mail Maria at

Bryan BuchkoComment