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STAMPS: Acrylic vs. Rubber

{Reported by Brandi Wiggins-Côté}

Given that I'm a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, I'm guessing you're all assuming that I'll come down on the side of rubber for this review. The suspense is killing you, right? Well hang on to your hats, ladies! I may just surprise you...

I own in the area of 150 stamp sets. Ten of them are acrylic. I'm what you would call a fan of rubber stamps. But I can appreciate the draw of acrylic for some people but for me, rubber makes the nicest image. I don't get the coverage of ink that I want with acrylic stamps. I like to use my markers to color different parts of a stamp to have a multicolored impression and I've found that when I do this with rubber stamps, it makes a nice clean impression. Not the case with acrylics. One of the biggest pluses for acrylic stamps is that they are see though. Meaning, when you stamp your image, you see where you're stamping. I'd give anything to have all of my rubber wood-mounted alphabet stamps to be acrylic so I could see where I was stamping. As it stands, I'm stuck using my Stamp-a-ma-jig for all my stamped titles. Sigh. Life is SO unfair. ;)

This brings me to my next pro acrylic point (See? I toldja I'd find some!). Wood blocks. Oh, space sucking wood blocks! Looky how much space 5 sets of acrylic stamps take compared to 5 sets of my beloved rubber:

Is this reason alone to 86 all my rubber stamps? Nope. If I weren't so lazy, I could un-mount all my rubber stamps and re-trim them with EZmount. (figure 1) That's the nifty grey foam stuff that you find between the rubber and the wood blocks. It gives a nice cushion thereby making a nicer impression. It's all about the impression, baby. Besides, when you trim down the rubber enough, you don't really need to see through them (figure 2). You can gage by the shape of the image. When the rubber stamps are un-mounted and put on EZmount, you can use the acrylic blocks that are used for acrylic stamps. The EZmount clings to the acrylic block making a temporary mounting system. Take the rubber or acrylic off of the block and put them away for easy and space saving storage. Ta-da!

What I made:

paper: stampin' up! ribbon: stampin' up ink: stampin' up! stamps: inkadinkado

paper: stampin' up! ink:stampin up! ribbon: stampin' up eyelets: stampin' up! border punch: stampin' up! stamps: stampin' up!

cardstock: stampin' up! patterned paper: american craft lace cardstock: ki memories star punches: stampin up! journaling tag: autumn leaves brads: stampin' up!

What I like about rubber:
-gives a crisp, clean impression.
- I especially like wood-mounted rubber but like that I have the option to un-mount them.
- easier to apply multicolors with a marker

What I like about acrylic:
-doesn't take up a lot of room.
-see through so it's easier to accurately place your image.
- other than those two things, there's not much I like about acrylic.

What do you think? Can anyone sing me the praises of acrylic stamps? Which one do you like better? Let me know what's up, homeslice!


BethW said...

Even though I am a stamping newbie, I am with you 100% on this. It did not take long to notice the difference in the impressions. I did not know I could remove the rubber stamps from the wooden blocks. Thank goodness I don't own 86 of them because now I have to put them all on EZ-mount. I did read a tip somewhere about stamping acrylics on a cushiony (?) surface to get a better impression, so when possible I use the backside of my large archival inkpad.

Gale said...

I agree 100% with your likes.

JulieP said...

I went gung-ho on acrylics when they first became popular but I discovered that I didn't care for the images. I've now gone back to good ole rubber stamps. The images are crisp which far outweigh the storage concerns for me.

Heather said...

I agree for a crisp image rubber normally beats acrylics. However I've found the better quality acrylics (ie not the $1 ones) give great impressions. I've even used my markers on them with good results. I would have to have the same stamp in both mediums to do a true side by side but I've been very happy overall.

I've found the "trick" seems to be to warm up or condition the acrylic stamp first. It seems like many have a coating or something that wears off and over time the stamp gives a better impression. Rubber seems to look great right of the bat but acrylic gets better over time.

Tanis said...

RUBBER all the way :)

As for space, there are companies that only do cling mounted rubber...and they don't take up any more room than acrylic.

Yaritza said...

I'm a fan of both. But I have found that the quality of the acrylic stamp counts. The ink used makes a difference to me aswell. I'm too an SU demo and find that I do not like the SU ink for my acrylic stamps. I prefer the cay eyes chalk ink for them. But hands down I will never give up my rubba. Love them. For my SU's as soon as they retire I unmount them on to ezmount and if I buy another brand they automatically get unmounted. I store my ezmounted rubber stamps on Stamp Keepers by Inque Boutique. 12x12 size. They are very hard to find now but they are totally worth the money. If you want to store them inside a 3 ring binder they're made for that but because the plastic is hard they stan on their own so I just have them standing up on my shelf.

Erika M. said...

I actually like both types. If I use a stamp mat for my acrylics, I get a good crisp image.

Rebecca said...

I started with acrylic and have just recently found the crispness of rubber stamps, so I use a 50/50 mix now. I really enjoy stamping more than I thought I would. :)

Right now, I can't get enough of background stamps and I prefer the rubber for that.

I have found, however, that you can really see quality differences with acrylic stamps. The cheap ones are, well, cheap. Perfect for very specific (not often used) images, not so much for alphabets and backgrounds.

Brandi Wiggins-Côté said...

Yaritza: Y'know, I never even thought of unmounting just my RETIRED stamps? You are one smart cookie!

Heather: I'll try conditioning my acrylic stamps to see if it makes a difference. Thanks for the suggestion!

NanaBeth: I'll have to try the "cushiony" surface stamping as well.

Thanks so much for the feedback!!

Jingle said...

I think it is more about quality than anything. There are rubber stamps out there that I wouldn't use if you forced me to. They are poor quality rubber, often dry, not cut deep enough, and give a lowsy image. The same goes for acrylics. I have found that I love high quality acrylic stamps. I get the same crisp image I get from rubber. Some of my favorite brands are Maya Road, Gel A Tins, and Close To My Heart. They all take the time to make a nice acrylic that really gives a wonderful impression. Unfortunately, many people are introduced to acrylic stamping through dollar stamps and cheapies, making them not like acrylic because they are using cheap stamps! It's not the medium itself, it's the quality of that specific product that is the problem.

Heather said...

I agree with Jingle there is a world of difference between my Maya Road acrylics and the $1 Studio G ones you get at Michaels.

Rubber does give you more detail and shading. Which for some projects is key. I have not found any clear stamps that really match that. However I do mostly bold images, letters and accents so it's not a issue for me.

Aly Dosdall said...

Awesome review Brandi! So imformative and helpful. I had no idea you could trim rubber stamps and mount them on acrylic blocks. Thanks for the 411!

Rhayne said...

Well, one benefit I've found with my acrylics is that if I'm going for a grungy look, they're perfect. Especially if I use them with some Distress Inks. They bead up a bit for that less-then-perfect image. But like you, if I'm going for clean prints, it's rubber all the way :o)

Jenn said...

I agree! But there are a few companies that make acrylics that stamp AWESOME!

Tricia said...

I have found that people who began stamping with acrylic prefer those, and people who started with rubber prefer those. I have both, prefer the rubber. Great projects you made, thanks for sharing!

cassie said...

I have both, but there's nothing like stamping with a good rubber stamp. I am a big fan of Hero Arts. They have both rubber and acrylic. Their acrylic are good quality and stamp nicely, but I still prefer the rubber....and I LOVE my stamp-a-ma-jig!

Anonymous said...

Well I have to say that I agree with you wholeheartedly but I have found that when it comes to alphabets I LOVE my acrylic ones. For the seeing factor but hands down rubber stamps are the way for me too, crisper and cleaner images. I am so glad to know that I am not alone, I was starting to think everyone had crossed over into the clear plastic world. Thanx for a great review. Stacy

Anonymous said...

I've been stamping for nearly 15 years and have lots of rubber stamps. I rarely buy them anymore because I love my acrylic stamps. If you buy good quality the impression is equal to, if not better, than the rubber stamps. Being able to see where I'm stamping makes it so much easier and quicker. Like Jingle said above, it's the quality that matters, not the material.

Brandi Wiggins-Côté said...

WOW! I'm loving the feedback, ladies!!! I'm going to go to bed a little less dumb tonight!LOL! Keep 'em coming!

kreativeimagination said...

I am new to stamping but I would prefer and also love using rubber stamps. I still have to get the hang of using acrylic stamps.

Marla said...

I am a person who converted ALL my rubber stamps to aryclic with the use of the EZMount. I am the biggest fan of this stuff. I had drawers and drawers of stamps that now only take up the space of 3 CD case holders!! I love it!! I have a very small area and so I have to conserve where I can!!

Anonymous said...

I am a rubber stamp girl myself, and totally agree with the EZ mount. If I wasn't so lazy and cheap, I would love to unmount all my SU stamps and put on EZM, but alas.. that likely isn't going to happen! Ummm can't sing you any acrylic praises, except that as others have posted, there are better acrylics out there than others... just like SU rubber is better than others...
Great review though!
Diane Cooper

Nicole Manwaring said...

I have tried to like the acrylic, but I just keep going back to rubber. For alphabets I stamp each letter in the corner of a square piece of vellum card stock (just like I would use a stamp-a-ma-jig). I keep these squares in the box with the stamp set. (This way I don't have to keep cleaning off my stamp-a-ma-jig).

Christine said...

I'm a fan of both, honestly. I love the clearness of the acrylic stamps and the easy storage. However, it's hard to tell about the quality just by using them. I'm a total fan of the Papertrey Ink acrylic stamps. They have excellent ink coverage the first time around and rarely require priming for those solid stamps. They give great impressions as well and, unless I put my whole weight on them, don't give me that squishy look you can sometimes get from acrylics. Now, I can't say the same for some other acrylic stamps. I love the images that Martha Stewart stamps have, but for some reason I'm not having much luck with them. They loose their cling almost immediately after taking them off the sheet. First, it's extremely difficult to take them off in the first place. I almost have to rip them off. Then, it's hard to put them back because they keep falling off. I know they're not dirty because I've tried it without even using them yet. I bought two different sets thinking it might have just been the one, but no, it happened for both sets.

As for red rubber stamps, it's true. They can get more intricate than acrylic stamps, but I've found that Stampavie acrylic stamps have AMAZING details that stamp perfectly every single time. My one drawback for red rubber is that they're not see-through, but once I learned how to use the stamp-a-ma-jig, I was set. It's just a little more time consuming is all. And storage is a bit of a problem, but I generally buy only unmounted unless I can't resist a wood mounted design. I like to store them on Stamp N' Stor panels that are perfect for cling mounted stamps. I can fit all five panels (loaded front and back) in a 3" binder. I just need to get started on my reference sheets for them since my collection is starting to grow.

Anonymous said...

I kind of have to disagree. I had tons of wood mounted traditional rubber stamps that were gatering dust when I discovered the wonderful acrylix by Close To My Heart. Quality makes a HUGE difference when it comes to the acrylic stamps. I was recently using a cheapo from the local scrapbook store for a huge card order that I was filling and it just did not hold ink well at all. I don't plan on using that one again. But I've never once had a problem with the Close To My Heart acrylix.

One thing I think that always kept me from using all those wood mounted stamps was that I couldn't see exactly where I was stamping and it annoyed me because I could never get things "perfect" when using stamps in my scrapbooking or even for cards. The acrylic stamps allow me to not only see through the block but also through the stamp so that I can position my stamp with ease the first time.

I do still have a bin full of wood mounted stamps, mostly those that I just couldn't bear to part with but they're still gathering dust.

Cindy Major said...

Great review, B.! I'm a rubber stamp, mounted stamp gal all the way. I did buy a few rubber unmounted and acrylic stamps and could never get into it. I don't like the impression as much. They don't work as well with water-based inks and I certainly didn't want to invest in a whole new set of inks (for both money and space purposes). I hate having to clean the stamps right away to peel them off and use the handle for the next image. I also like how having the images on the wood blocks make it really easy to skim through my stamp selection and find something really fast.

I would never say rubber stamps are better. I would just say that they fit my liking better. It's really just a matter of personal preferences, although I do second those who said that you need quality acrylic stamps to get a quality image. And call me weird, but I do enjoy using the Stamp-a-ma-Jig. I think even when I see through the acrylic, I might end up with certain letters that are crooked anyway, especially for fancier handwritten font that are curvier. The image sheet provided with the SAMJ helps me figure out the right way to position the letter before the ink hits the cardstock.

Very interesting to see what everybody thinks, though.

And great projects you've shared! I love the scrapbook page - it is SOOO Brandi! Your style totally shines through on this one - could have picked it up as yours among a gallery full of pages!


Unknown said...

First, I have to say that your projects are fabulous, thanks for sharing!

I have not had any luck with finding good quality clear stamps, as those that I have tried are just not clean images. However, I so love the wood mounted SU! stamps!
I have considered using the EZMount on my wood stamps, but haven't done so...yet (seems like too much work..yea, I have lots of wood mounted stamps sets too).

I found that I do not like the feel of acrylic blocks...I absolutely love the feel of the wood when stamping. And, this is when I found Unity Stamp Company...oh my, the benefit of using unmounted red rubber on an acrylic base with wood handles, and you can still see the overall stamp placement on your project...this is now MY perfect method of stamping! Some of Unity’s stamps have the thin wood mount that can slide into one of the four handle sizes, and if needed, I can use my stamp-a-ma-jig. I’m addicted to Unity now and their images are always clean and crisp…it’s Unity and SU! for me!

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