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Chimney Sweep Stamps

On stamping lists, every so often someone complains that their stamp blocks are ugly with ink smudges, something it took me a while to figure out because I simply don't have much trouble with this.

I have a few blocks with various stains on them, but nothing to call home about. For one thing, I really dislike black ink, so I don't have much of that on my stamps. There's something so disgustingly jarring about black ink that I avoid it like the plague. Of course, this could be a throwback to my stamp indexing nightmare, but let's face it, I just don't have much of that black stuff all over my wood blocks.

Whenever this call goes out to the lists, someone usually responds that, by jingo, there's nothing they dislike more than messy, smudged wooden blocks. This is generally followed by a favorite recommendation for keeping that beautiful wood from becoming splotched with black streaks. These hints come in all forms, from coating the wood with some sort of sealant before using the stamp, to practically destroying the rubber with caustic cleaners, not to mention a few lungs in the process.

I finally figured out I don't have all this stove black ink all over my stamps because I hardly use anything but dye inks. One of those "Duh" moments, to say the least. But you know what? I don't think I've missed much, except my stamps don't look like they've been used by Mary Poppins to clean chimneys.

I mean, what is the big deal with the permanent dye inks? Scrapbookers seem to put a lot of store in them, but why should stampers? Since I create Whiskey Creek Stamps from old etchings, pigment ink, the kind that is often permanent, is something I seldom use because the microscopic chinks of dye clog up the fine lines in my stamps. I do have a few permanent pigment stamp pads. After all, once in a while you want to do a saying in metallic ink without having to inhale gilding pen fumes.

Oh, and then there's the rainbow pad and sponge roller I use now and then for backgrounds or the odd saying or two.

What a shock when I overheard someone in a stamp class say you have to use pigment inks to emboss. Huh? I've been embossing with dye inks since I started stamping (which wasn't all that long ago, I must confess).

I innocently asked why. The response? Because pigment inks take longer to dry so the embossing powder sticks better. I thought that's what Radiant Pearls were for.

The humidity around Whiskey Creek Stamp country near Fargo, North Dakota, hovers around 40 percent a good bit of the time, and when it's 30 below, is way down there in the dry-your-eyeballs-out range. And I've still never had any trouble keeping dye ink wet enough to slosh a little embossing powder on it and have it stick real good. Especially to the places I don't want it.

Of course, I also use coated card stock all the time, either semigloss or glossy. Which probably does make a difference as far as keeping the dye ink wet enough to catch a bit of embossing powder as it flies by.

On the other hand, my dye ink embossing success may depend in part on my sloshing a bit of glycerine on my stamp pads to help keep them juicy, if not big. It's been several months since I stepped into uncharted waters and glycerined my stash of stamp pads, and I am proud to report that there is still no mold on any of them.

Well, the color of the few pigmented pads I have did fade a bit, especially my one metallic one. Must be all that glycerine floating around between those sparkly particles of metallica, but eh, so, you emboss the images and nobody notices anyway.

Embossing with dye ink pads has another advantage -- you don't need a rainbow collection of a gazillion embossing powders. A nice basic black for all your "permanent pigment ink" looks, a couple of metallics, and a tub of clear, and you've got just about all you need. Oh, well, pearl is nice. Gives some really neat effects with colored dye ink pads.

So, me, no, I don't have any stamps which look like a stage prop for the "Chimchimcheree" dance across tile roofs, but I seem to be able to live a full, happy stamping life without having to deal with five o'clock stamp shadow problems.

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