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Mounted vs Unmounted

Certain questions come up sort of cyclically on lists, and while some people get a tad impatient about such things, I find there is almost always some new twist to the discussion or scrap of wonderful information that makes it well worth paying attention to some of these oft' talked about subjects. The mounted versus unmounted stamp issue is one of them.

Since I haven't yet collected a great array of stamps except my own, I can't regale you with tales of dealing with drawers upon drawers of mischievous scraps of rubber that elude you at the very moment you need them the most, but jump out the drawer in your way when you don't. And frankly, the mere description of a pile of unmounteds grabbed up at stamp shows only to be taken home and prepared for action leaves me with less than visions of sugar plums. Rubber pits indeed.

Even with Kai scissors, trimming a lot of rubber can give you some lovely blisters. Slathering any sort of glue onto some kind of sponge and trying to make it stick to the naked rubber die might not be so bad if that was all there was to it. Hey, I've read the posts about how to keep the vinyl cling from sticking where it shouldn't, or the rubber sponge from sticking to yet some other place it shouldn't. Plastic wrap wafers may cure the problem, but by now there are all these edges dangling all over the place.

One seasoned stamper even suggested you cut this stamp, now a multi-layered wafer of all kinds of things, like we used to in tailoring class low those many years ago -- at an angle to carefully bevel the edge. I don't know about you all, but I seem to have all these rubber crumbs sticking to my face, my hair, and my carpet no matter how neatly I bevel the edges.

Some stampers admit they just use the naked rubber and be sure they stamp on a magazine cushion of some sort. I once thought my, how tacky. Then I made the mistake of disparaging fun foam as a sponge for unmounteds in Fun Foam Foibles. Not a pretty site.

But we all know, the world's greatest inventions are often discovered accidentally. Oftentimes out of ignorance. O.K., I had taken some of my own stamps, which come with adhesive backed sponge and already cut out, and just stamped with them as they were to test them for the vulcanizer before I gave the go ahead to roll the presses, so to speak. They worked fine, but I was so brainwashed into thinking I had to have these lovely acrylic blocks, that it never even entered my mind that maybe this was all I needed to do.

And so the discussion of velcro-like fastening systems, tacky glue, and double stick tape continued and I thought, gee, I really need to try these some time. Especially with my virgin acrylic blocks, which have never felt the kiss of vinyl.

Then I began playing around with a couple of stamps that didn't stamp right. The tell-tale depressions in the rubber you can't see with the naked eye, but sure leave obvious holes in your stamped image. Since I'd been stamping away with my own images without benefit of wood or vinyl, I hadn't noticed that in some cases, the dies that stamped fine when I brayered on the ink, flipped them onto card stock, and with a clean brayer rolled them onto the paper, well, darn, didn't stamp so nicely on wooden blocks.


What's going on here.

Well, after some careful assessment of the situation (frenzied stamporama is more like it), it appears that with my highly detailed stamps, the rigidity of the wood actually holds them so inflexible that minuscule variations in the rubber surface can show up in the stamping of the image. I assume this is why it is sometimes suggested that with highly detailed images, one stand on the stamp.

Since I am of an age that toe-dancing on wood blocks is not particularly appealing to me, I suddenly realized that maybe I was onto something here. Maybe, just maybe, it's easier to stamp without wood or vinyl. Yikes! Heresy, I know. Please don't flame me on this one.

But the next time you get an unmounted stamp with adhesive backed sponge on it, don't even peel off the paper. Grab that brayer and stamp. Obviously, when the paper disintegrates from use and crumbles away from the back of the adhesive-backed rubber, you'll need to do something. Perhaps you should apply a layer of double-sided tape just to make it look like you know what you're doing. Me, I'll grab the single sided tape and put the sticky side of the tape against the sticky side of the rubber. Nobody will ever know.

In the mean time, my beautiful set of acrylic blocks make lovely sun catchers.

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