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Old 06-20-2012, 03:18 PM   #1
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Default Clear Stamps: Photopolymer vs. Acrylic Stamp Companies

I was recently reminded of a forum topic I've been meaning to post while answering another thread regarding clear stamps. I've gathered quite a collection (some would call it a hoard) of clear stamps over the past few years and I gradually came to notice that they didn't all behave the same way, even when I tried the recommended methods of prepping the stamp surfaces (you know, rubbing with an eraser or cloth or fine sandpaper). Some would give lovely crisp prints with just about any type of ink and others would only work with pigment ink or Versafine. The latter type also had a tendency to spread out and make a blurry impression when I pressed it firmly onto the paper. So this is what I know so far about photopolymer and acrylic stamps:

Photopolymer: very sticky, stinky, takes dye ink and pigment ink equally well, stains easily (although that doesn't affect the stamped images), firmer material that tends to give cleaner impressions

Acrylic (and other mystery materials): a bit less sticky, not stinky, works with pigment or versafine ink but not dye ink, can stain too but not as readily as polymer, softer texture that is prone to spreading while being stamped

What I would like to have from this thread is a list of which clear stamp companies produce photopolymer stamps vs. acrylic (or other) stamps. Also, I would appreciate any insight from all the wonderful and knowledgeable stampers here about the different materials that clear stamps are made from, what they are, and how they perform.

I know it's tempting to classify the photopolymer stamps as being superior to the acrylic stamps, as I suppose they kind of are in terms of their general stamped image quality, but I don't want to create an unintentional hierarchy or firestorm of controversy over which stamp companies produce high vs. low quality stamps; some of my personal favourites belong to the acrylic category! But I would find it helpful to know in advance of buying certain stamps which material they are made of, and therefore what I'll be able to expect from them.

Thanks in advance for all your help and advice!

Anna
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:01 PM   #2
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Photopolymer stamps are porous therefore taking ink (as well as staining) more easily. They always give a crisp clean image.

Some of the companies I know of that create photopolymer stamps are: Verve, Peachy Keen Stamps, Papertrey Ink, Lawn Fawn, Stampavie, Sweet 'n Sassy, and Kitchen Sink Stamps. These are the ones I have purchased and used. I am sure there are many, many others, but these are the ones I have first hand knowledge of.
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Old 06-21-2012, 07:19 AM   #3
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There are no acrylic stamps. Acrylic is the hard clear material of the blocks that all these kinds of stamps are mounted on.
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:05 PM   #4
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Tchk, you're right that the clear blocks for mounting cling and clear stamps are made out of acrylic. But many clear stamps are also made out of acrylic, as far as the packages say. Acrylic is something of a wonder substance- it can be used to make everything from stamps to aquariums to windows to sweaters and artist materials (I know Golden's line of artist media, like their paint, texture additives, gel medium, transfer medium, gesso, etc. is mostly made up of acrylic.) It's kind of like the soybean of the arts and crafts world! It's pretty amazing that so many widely different products can be made from this one substance, and no wonder that it can get confusing. Now that I'm looking into this stuff I'm wishing I had a chemistry degree!

One thing I did just read was that acrylic can be made using a few different substances to polymerize it and of course it can also be mixed with different chemicals during the manufacture of all the different products out there. There are also different ways of producing it which can result in acrylic which contains some impurities or which is more purified and stronger... Also, interestingly (and depressingly) there is no longer any acrylic manufacturing in the US. So this makes me suspect that even if a company states that it's stamps are made of acrylic, not all acrylic stamps are necessarily the same... Whereas it seems that photopolymer stamps behave much more uniformly. Have others found this to be the case?
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:35 PM   #5
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I'd agree that photopolymer do seem to perform uniformly (I hate the smell when they're new, though!) while acrylic is really the luck of the draw. I've had to throw quite a lot of cheaper ones out when they disintegrated even though they stamped well when new.
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:12 PM   #6
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Photopolymer is FAR superior and I'm not afraid to say it! (maybe a little scared to say it *ducks under the table*)

There are stamps that are made out of silicon or acrylic or other such things and they are NOT the same as Photopolymer. You are very correct & I do like your descriptions of both.

I don't want to bad mouth any companies, but as a general rule, I learned not to purchase the $9.99-ish range "clear stamps" (not labeled photopolymer) in the big box stores and NOT to purchase "clear stamps" from the larger crafty companies that have mostly paper and embellishments. Also, I don't seem to like ANY of the "clear stamps" made from China (again, they aren't labeled as photopolymer). I think the stamps coming from Europe or the USA are superior quality (but these ones ARE labeled as Photopolymer).

Some brands of PHOTOPOLYMER clear stamps that I think are amazing quality are:
SP and Company Stamps
Stampavie
The Greeting Farm (most of theirs are rubber but their new clear stamps are great!)
Papertrey Ink
Wild Rose Studio
Gorjuss (some of theirs are rubber and some are clear)
My Favorite Things

I am sure there are tons more great photopolymer stamp companies out there. I would love to see more companies listed in this thread.
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:15 PM   #7
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As far as I'm concerned, companies who get their clear stamps produced cheaply in China or Taiwan deserve to be badmouthed... Companies that I know of that have stamps manufactured in these countries and therefore are NOT photopolymer are: Prima, Inkadinkadoo, Imaginesce & Kaisercraft. That's all I can think of at the moment.
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallupino View Post
I was recently reminded of a forum topic I've been meaning to post while answering another thread regarding clear stamps. I've gathered quite a collection (some would call it a hoard) of clear stamps over the past few years and I gradually came to notice that they didn't all behave the same way, even when I tried the recommended methods of prepping the stamp surfaces (you know, rubbing with an eraser or cloth or fine sandpaper). Some would give lovely crisp prints with just about any type of ink and others would only work with pigment ink or Versafine. The latter type also had a tendency to spread out and make a blurry impression when I pressed it firmly onto the paper. So this is what I know so far about photopolymer and acrylic stamps:

Photopolymer: very sticky, stinky, takes dye ink and pigment ink equally well, stains easily (although that doesn't affect the stamped images), firmer material that tends to give cleaner impressions

Acrylic (and other mystery materials): a bit less sticky, not stinky, works with pigment or versafine ink but not dye ink, can stain too but not as readily as polymer, softer texture that is prone to spreading while being stamped

What I would like to have from this thread is a list of which clear stamp companies produce photopolymer stamps vs. acrylic (or other) stamps. Also, I would appreciate any insight from all the wonderful and knowledgeable stampers here about the different materials that clear stamps are made from, what they are, and how they perform.

I know it's tempting to classify the photopolymer stamps as being superior to the acrylic stamps, as I suppose they kind of are in terms of their general stamped image quality, but I don't want to create an unintentional hierarchy or firestorm of controversy over which stamp companies produce high vs. low quality stamps; some of my personal favourites belong to the acrylic category! But I would find it helpful to know in advance of buying certain stamps which material they are made of, and therefore what I'll be able to expect from them.

Thanks in advance for all your help and advice!

Anna
Thank you for posting this. I have avoided buying clear stamps because I can never tell which ones are good.
So..the acrylic are the ones where the ink seems to float on the surface. I do not like these ones!
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:04 PM   #9
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Close to My Heart and Sweet n' Sassy Stamps are photopolymer...
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:28 PM   #10
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These companies also make high quality photopolymer stamps.

Crafty Secrets Clear Art Stamps
Flourishes
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Old 06-24-2012, 08:30 PM   #11
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Gina K. Designs clear stamps are Photopolymer. Great topic!
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:58 PM   #12
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Crafty Secrets is also photopolymer.

I have a whole bunch of Penny Black clear stamps which are NOT photopolymer, but they stamp in a lovely manner, IF you don't squash them down.
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:00 AM   #13
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Great topic with excellent thought and explanations of the matters involved. Thanks for creating this thread!

Glad that Gina K has popped by to confirm that her new clear stamps are photopolymer (I was about to go check). I strongly suspected that they would be!
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:05 AM   #14
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OK, so I finally got around to looking through all the clear stamps I own (whew!) to see which were acrylic and which were photopolymer. Here's the list:

Photopolymer: Flourishes
Hero Arts
Papertrey Ink
My Favourite Things


Acrylic:
Group 1:
Penny Black
Recollections
Studio G (variable- some better than others)
Fiskars
Martha Stewart

Group 2:
Prima
7Gypsies
Inkadinkado
Kaisercraft
Pink Paislee
Making Memories
Scrappy Cat
Doodlebug Designs

So why have I split my acrylic stamps into two groups, you might ask? Well, when I was going through my stamps I did a bit of testing to see how each brand performed with pigment ink and versafine. I also did a "squishability" test (sounds scientific, doesn't it?) to see how much I could distort an image by pressing too hard when stamping. I know that when I started this thread I wanted to avoid rating stamp companies as either 'good' or 'bad' and basically just describe how the stamps perform, especially using different types of ink. So forgive me for making a few judgment calls as a result of the testing I did! I wanted to compare how clear an image I could possibly get with each brand, as well as how easy it was to get a clear image. There seem to be different firmnesses of acrylic stamps out there, and while the firmer ones can give an image as good as rubber with the right ink, it is noticably more difficult to do so with softer ones. So my "group 1" acrylics are those which have great to good image clarity (firmer stamps), and the "group 2" stamps I've rated as having fair to poor image clarity (soft ones). Photopolymer stamps, by comparison, are very firm and have the least "squishability".

Some other things I noted:
Penny Black has by far the best image quality of any acrylic stamps I've tried. With pigment or versafine ink, they are just as good as my favourite rubber stamps.

Versafine ink is like magic with all kinds of stamps! It makes a big difference in image quality with both acrylic and photopolymer. I especially noticed an improvement in the detail that came out with my Flourishes stamps when using Versafine compared to Colourbox pigment ink.

I was most disappointed in the results from Prima, Kaisercraft and 7Gypsies, not just because the images were undeniably 'squishy' but because they are some of my favourite stamp images... But in some cases I do actually like a bit of a 'smudgey' image to get a certain effect, as if it's painted or in soft focus... Perhaps I'm just indulging in some desperate optimism and trying to make the best of a 'squishy' situation! :}

I've had variable results from Studio G stamps; the ones that are more solid images tend to not stamp very cleanly, but the outline or finer-lined images tend to stamp quite clearly.

I've had variable results, to a lesser extent, with Fiskars stamps. An older set I have includes some border and corner stamps which I cannot ever get to stay straight on the block. I've also had some costly disappointments with Fiskars punches which soured their reputation for me, but a newer set of sentiment stamps I bought seems to stamp pretty clearly with pigment or versafine.

I've noticed that some of the older acrylic stamp sets I have (3 or more years old) have lost a good deal of stickiness and don't stick well to the block or to the acrylic sheets they are stored on. These include stamps by Pink Paisley and Doodlebug Designs. On the other hand, I have an older stamp set by Scrappy Cat that I could hardly peel off the acrylic sheet.

So that's what I've been able to find out about my own clear stamps. Sorry for the loooong post! It would be great to hear if others have noticed these differences in their clear stamps too, or other helpful details!

Last edited by Hallupino; 07-12-2012 at 10:12 AM.. Reason: add further info
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:54 AM   #15
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Stephaniebernardstamps give a very clear crisp image as well.....
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:12 PM   #16
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I'm going to shout out for Clear Dollar Stamps. They say they do acrylic stamps and a lot of people turn their noses on them but I get good impressions with them and to put it this way, I have photopolymer stamps that I struggle with more.

I bought my stamps to use, not worry about them lasting forever. If I like the image then I like the image. I can get a good impression with cheaper acrylic stamps too by just watching for pressure. I even have "good quality" rubber stamps I have had to nurse a bit.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:08 PM   #17
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I am a newbie to Close to My heart acrylix stamps and must say they are of very very high quality. I get a great impression every time and am so glad I jumped on the consultant wagon when they had their big promo in march. I have stamped for years and have tons and tons of wood mounted stamps so using the CTMH is so new to me and I love how little space many sets take up. I have even been able to take oodles of the stuff with me when we go camping and craft away and destress

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Old 03-10-2013, 07:11 AM   #18
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Great thread, I thought all that bad stamping with the lesser quality clear stamps was my own inability to get a crisp image! I feel better about this now. I just purchased a few CTMH stamp sets and am very excited to ink them up. I will have to do a few ink tests myself... Thank you all for the wonderful insight on various stamps and inks!
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Old 04-10-2013, 02:26 PM   #19
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Wink Photopolymer Clear Stamps

First, I apologize if this was already answered.

Stampin'Up! has recently released photopolymer stamps, two sets so far.

My traditional career has been in the commercial printing and mailing industry. Several industries use this compound, one being the print industry for plate making and 3D printing. It holds up well and makes a crisp image.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-10-2013, 02:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaeInReno View Post
First, I apologize if this was already answered.

Stampin'Up! has recently released photopolymer stamps, two sets so far.

My traditional career has been in the commercial printing and mailing industry. Several industries use this compound, one being the print industry for plate making and 3D printing. It holds up well and makes a crisp image.

Hope this helps.
TWO sets now?! Where is the new set?! I want to see! < excited look > I have only seen the alphabet set...
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Old 04-27-2013, 05:25 PM   #21
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Waltzing Mouse Stamps has great photopolymer stamps.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:53 PM   #22
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Sorry if I'm resurrecting an older thread, but I'm looking for a clear photopolymer stamp manufacturer that is good in quality and price. When I Google, of course I get LOTS of listings, but none of them tell me if they are any good. I really wish some of these companies that make stamps for SP&Co (I <3 her stamps! Always a nice crisp image!), and Lawn Fawn, etc would say, "We make so-and-so's stamps!" You know, brag about who they make stamps for, so I know if I'd like their quality or not.

I understand this isn't exactly what this post was looking for, but I was just wondering if anyone had any good info on a good manufacturer, since you guys are so knowledgeable about stamps. Lol.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:38 PM   #23
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Meghan, thanks for bringing up this question; it's one that I have wondered about too. And after doing a little googling of my own, I'm afraid I haven't found the kind of list you're looking for, but I did find at least three manufacturers in the US as well as an explanation from one of them as to why they don't list the stamp companies they make stamps for. Stewart Superior stated on their site: "We used to list out all the companies using Superior Clear. However, we found that it became a prospecting list for our competitors. Therefore, we will just say that many of the best companies offering the best designs on the best quality photopolymer - are our customers."
So that explains why it's so hard to track down who makes who's stamps! Perhaps it would be easier to ask your favourite stamp design companies who manufactures their stamps, than to ask the manufacturers. Anyway, I found some interesting information from these three manufacturers that might interest you as well:
Home Page
Clear Stamps
clear stamp

Makes me want to get into stamp making myself!

Cheers,
Anna
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:12 AM   #24
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Great thread. I use almost exclusively rubber stamps but recently started purchasing clear stamps because of some of the designs. Some are acrylic while others are photopolymer. Not using them for very long, I recently started doing searches for threads just like this to make a list of what inks are recommended for which type of clear stamp because some specifically recommend NOT using Staz On (which I love to use). Sometimes the company websites aren't particularly helpful on finding the information needed, so we turn to threads like these to find our answers.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:47 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by appalachianyeti View Post
Waltzing Mouse Stamps has great photopolymer stamps.
Thank you for the shout out and Yes Waltzingmouse Stamps are made of the best quality photopolymer and all of our stamps are made in USA!
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:44 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagneticMeghan View Post
Sorry if I'm resurrecting an older thread, but I'm looking for a clear photopolymer stamp manufacturer that is good in quality and price. When I Google, of course I get LOTS of listings, but none of them tell me if they are any good. I really wish some of these companies that make stamps for SP&Co (I <3 her stamps! Always a nice crisp image!), and Lawn Fawn, etc would say, "We make so-and-so's stamps!" You know, brag about who they make stamps for, so I know if I'd like their quality or not.

I understand this isn't exactly what this post was looking for, but I was just wondering if anyone had any good info on a good manufacturer, since you guys are so knowledgeable about stamps. Lol.
I think a lot of companies making photopolymer stamps do it themselves since its such an easy process without the need for a lot of specialized equipment. That would be my guess as to why you can't find the "manufacturer" for a lot of stamp companies. Basically, all you need is a fairly decent printer, a uv light, a couple wash out tubs, and the resin.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltzingmouse View Post
Thank you for the shout out and Yes Waltzingmouse Stamps are made of the best quality photopolymer and all of our stamps are made in USA!
Would you be willing to whisper in my ear who makes your stamps??? Tehehe.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:00 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallupino View Post
I was recently reminded of a forum topic I've been meaning to post while answering another thread regarding clear stamps. I've gathered quite a collection (some would call it a hoard) of clear stamps over the past few years and I gradually came to notice that they didn't all behave the same way, even when I tried the recommended methods of prepping the stamp surfaces (you know, rubbing with an eraser or cloth or fine sandpaper). Some would give lovely crisp prints with just about any type of ink and others would only work with pigment ink or Versafine. The latter type also had a tendency to spread out and make a blurry impression when I pressed it firmly onto the paper. So this is what I know so far about photopolymer and acrylic stamps:

Photopolymer: very sticky, stinky, takes dye ink and pigment ink equally well, stains easily (although that doesn't affect the stamped images), firmer material that tends to give cleaner impressions

Acrylic (and other mystery materials): a bit less sticky, not stinky, works with pigment or versafine ink but not dye ink, can stain too but not as readily as polymer, softer texture that is prone to spreading while being stamped

What I would like to have from this thread is a list of which clear stamp companies produce photopolymer stamps vs. acrylic (or other) stamps. Also, I would appreciate any insight from all the wonderful and knowledgeable stampers here about the different materials that clear stamps are made from, what they are, and how they perform.

I know it's tempting to classify the photopolymer stamps as being superior to the acrylic stamps, as I suppose they kind of are in terms of their general stamped image quality, but I don't want to create an unintentional hierarchy or firestorm of controversy over which stamp companies produce high vs. low quality stamps; some of my personal favourites belong to the acrylic category! But I would find it helpful to know in advance of buying certain stamps which material they are made of, and therefore what I'll be able to expect from them.

Thanks in advance for all your help and advice!

Anna
Great information on this thread, Anna. Thank you. I prefer the Photopolymer stamp sets. I want the tools I use in art to be of good quality - my time and money is important.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:07 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by geogymnast82 View Post
Great thread. I use almost exclusively rubber stamps but recently started purchasing clear stamps because of some of the designs. Some are acrylic while others are photopolymer. Not using them for very long, I recently started doing searches for threads just like this to make a list of what inks are recommended for which type of clear stamp because some specifically recommend NOT using Staz On (which I love to use). Sometimes the company websites aren't particularly helpful on finding the information needed, so we turn to threads like these to find our answers.
Geogymnast82, I stay away from Staz On. I was told the same information when I first started stamping. Also, I took a class from Jenny McGuire (Hero Arts) and learned that stamps made in China shouldn't be left near little ones if you use them because of the toxins in the material. From that day forward I check the back of the packaging if I'm purchasing from a craft store such as Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.
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Old 09-19-2013, 06:12 PM   #30
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Default Polymer Stamps

A Jillian Vance Design is also a photopolymer clear stamp company whose manufacturer is in the USA! We got to tour the manufacturing facility and you would be shocked as to all the steps ~ and employees ~ it takes to manufacture clear and red rubber stamps. Not an easy process at all. Our manufacturer reclaims all the extra polymer and ships it back to that manufacturer so there is little waste and good for the environment.
I love this thread as I was actually wondering myself and googled to find the difference.
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Old 03-20-2014, 11:59 AM   #31
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Default Treasured Times Has Photopolymer Stamps

Hello everyone, lots of good information about clear stamps!
I just wanted to chime in here and say that Treasured Times stamps are made of crystal clear non-yellowing photo polymer. They are made in the USA by Clear Stamp (Craffiti). They are very high quality. They give great impressions. So much so that you can actually feel the stamped impression on the paper. They are easy to clean and easy to store.

We are also in the process of offering our stamps in deep etched red rubber cling as well.

There is a difference in clear stamps. Some stamps from the larger chains are made in China or Asia so the quality isn't going to be as good and they will eventually fall apart. Inks can stain stamps, but doesn't affect the quality of the stamp or the stamped image.

When purchasing clear stamps it's a good idea to ask the retailer who makes their stamps, that way you won't be mislead.

Great discussion!
Jody Stacy - Owner
Treasured Times Rubber Stamps & Scrapbooking
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:36 PM   #32
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Great thread! I personally will no longer buy clear stamps, unless they explicitly state that they are made of photopolymer. Even then, I still mostly purchase rubber cling stamps. I find they give the sharpest impressions and are the easiest to use. However, when it comes to photopolymer, I would definitely give a shout-out to Flourishes. I find their stamps to be exceptionally well-made and to stamp very crisply.
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:09 AM   #33
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What an educational thread! I've learned a lot from this. I've been a SU girl because it was how I started stamping. Always wondered about other companies and what kind of quality stamps they had but was afraid to buy them and be dissapointed. Now, I can expand my stamp collection without being hesitant!! Chi-Ching!! Here I come.
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:51 AM   #34
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I agree with so much of whats posted here- I have good quality, and poor quality, clear stamps. I do think the price is the main give- away. The cheaper the stamp, the lesser the quality. The ones I find worst are the soft-feeling ones- a good guide is try the aforementioned 'squish' test before you buy. If it feels reasonably solid, you should get a good image. If its really soft- probably not so much. With them it comes down to practice, to find just how little pressure you need to get a clear image. Two UK companies who have really good quality clear stamps are Chocolate Baroque- not all their stamps, they are just introducing clear- and Lavinia Stamps, if you like fairy/fantasy type images.
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Old 03-22-2014, 08:05 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Angie1974 View Post
Great thread! I personally will no longer buy clear stamps, unless they explicitly state that they are made of photopolymer. Even then, I still mostly purchase rubber cling stamps. I find they give the sharpest impressions and are the easiest to use. However, when it comes to photopolymer, I would definitely give a shout-out to Flourishes. I find their stamps to be exceptionally well-made and to stamp very crisply.
Angie,
I don't know whether you know this, but, Flourishes won't be around any more. But... Marcella Hawley, who did the illustrations for their beautiful stamp line, is starting a new stamp site and line of stamps, called PowerPoppy: Designs for Living in Full Bloom. The new design team is a powerhouse too. The big reveal is Tuesday, March 25th here: Power Poppy by Marcella Hawley Designs for Living in Full Bloom

I am picky about my photopolymer too. Even some photopolymers aren't as good as others (in my humble opinion). My all time favorite company for exceptional stamps and dies is Papertrey Ink. Flourishes was next; now I'll purchase from PowerPoppy. I also like JustRite, Verve, and Penny Black to name a few. Impression Obsession and Art Impressions are also very good.

In the wood mount category: Pink Ink (which acquired the images of Karen Lockheart) Pink Ink Stamp Company and can be purchased through Ellen Hutson online company have some sweet images.

Happy stamping friends!
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