Learn How To Use Magic Stamps And 5 Simple Steps For Creating Your Own Art Stamps

By Nicole Tinkham


Have you ever seen those blue foam blocks near the stamps in your local art supply store and wonder what they were used for? These are known as Magic Stamps and they really are quite magical. We’ll explain what they are and how to use them so you can impress your friends (or just make some really cool art stamps). Read on for more info!

What are Magic Stamps?

Let us guess, your first question is most likely “what in the world are Magic Stamps and what makes them so magical?”  Magic Stamps are inexpensive ($0.99 each on our shelves right now) blue foam blocks. Don’t get them confused with the Magic Eraser though, although they kind of look similar in shape and size. These are way cooler though, for the artist anyway. Basically, a Magic Stamp allows you to leave an imprint in the foam block and use it as your own custom art stamp. Read on for how to do so in 5 simple steps. Oh and you’ll find something really cool in Step #5 🙂

 5 Simple Steps For Creating Your Own Art Stamps

1.    Choose a textured surface you’d like to create a stamp out of. It can be anything from rubber bands to buttons. Think outside the box and always keep an eye out for fun textures.

2.     Now you want to heat your Magic Stamp with a heat gun (crafting tool) or hair dryer. This will make your foam block moldable so you can leave an imprint in it.

3.    Once the foam block surface is heated, immediately press it into the textured surface you want to imprint. Hold the block down firmly for about 20 seconds.

4.    Congratulations, you have now created your very own custom art stamp! Roll on some water-based ink and stamp away!

5.    Now here’s the really cool part about Magic Stamps. You can’t make a mistake with them because you can simply reheat the foam block with your heat gun and the imprint will vanish before your eyes (hence the name Magic Stamp). The imprint will actually stay on the foam block until you reheat it too so if you like the stamp you can reuse it. To wash your stamp, just use some water and a little bit of soap.

Get excited because these Magic Stamps are so much fun to play with. They’re inexpensive and chances are, you already have the other tools (heat gun or hair dryer, paper, ink, textured surface) right at home so why not give these a try? Oh and if you want to see these in action or explained in more detail, just stop in to visit us and one of our art experts would be more than happy to help you out!

Mixed Media 101: How to get started

By Nicole Tinkham

Mixed Media 101_ How to get started

Have you ever considered trying your hand in mixed media art? Trust us when we say you need to try it, and here’s why. Say you absolutely hate it (which we doubt you will), we know you’ll LEARN from the experience anyway. Mixed media is all about experimenting and playing with different mediums. It’s finding out what works well together as well as what doesn’t. Most artists find the process super fun and it’s also a great way to get those creative juices flowing if you’re stuck on some other projects. Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how to get started on your first mixed media project.

What is mixed media art?

Can the answer to this be fun? 🙂

Basically, mixed media art is bringing a variety of different art materials together in one project. It’s a combination of many different art skills as well such as collage, scrapbooking, stamping, doodling, painting, sculpture etc. It’s the best of all worlds!

1.    Gather your materials

This is where you can have a lot of fun if you allow yourself to think outside the box. When you gather materials for your mixed media collage, remember that they don’t have to be your typical art supplies! Look for unique textures and shapes that can be used for stamping devices. Save bits and pieces of paper from old newspapers, telephone books, or letters. Start a collection of random objects like buttons and ribbon. You might not be used to looking for these types of things on a normal basis but once you start opening your eyes to them you won’t be able to control it. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Toilet paper roll for stamping
Plastic utensils
Potato (can be carved into and used as a stamp)
Pencil erasers to carve into and create your own stamp
Bubble wrap for texture
File folders for a foundation
Pages of old books and catalogs
Scrap fabric/paper
Spray bottle can add texture
And the list goes on…

Here are some traditional art supplies you may consider using:

Paint- Acrylic, watercolor, fabric paint, etc.
Variety of paint brushes
Various gel mediums
Pastels, colored pencils, crayons etc.

2.    Choose your foundation

You need a place to start. Just like you need a canvas to start a painting or a sketchbook to begin a drawing, you need a base for your mixed media project. As mentioned in the materials list above, you can use a file folder as a foundation. You can also use a book, sketchbook, cereal box, notebook, index card, or anything else that’s fairly sturdy to get started. The next phase is decorating it.

3.    Add layers

A mixed media piece is really all about creating layers and telling a story. The first layer should be a basic background. This could be done in paint or you could glue some fun paper down or you could do both. Remember, there are no set rules to creating mixed media artwork. It’s great to tell a story with your piece and put some emotion into it. It doesn’t matter if others understand the story or not. This project is for YOU!

4.    Your focal point

It’s ok for your mixed media piece to be random but we do recommend having a focal point. You can achieve this through stamps, images, found items, or anything else that interests you. Be sure to add embellishments around your focal as well! Think lace, glitter, buttons, shells, and other small unique items. When putting together your piece, go with your heart. Don’t worry about where to put certain items. Just place them where you think they work best.

5.    Get out of your comfort zone

Your first mixed media project should get your feet wet so you can see what it’s all about. Next time around, we want you to get a little more out of your comfort zone. Do something crazy that you wouldn’t normally think to do! Also keep your eyes open for any new and interesting things that you can use in future projects. Like we said, once you start looking for these different materials, you won’t be able to stop!

There are numerous things you can get out of your first mixed media project. You’ll learn about various mediums that you may not be used to using. You’ll experiment and find out what works well together and what doesn’t. You may come up with new creative ideas for other projects you’re working on in the process. You might even discover a new medium you love working with. But the #1 and most important thing you can take away from your first mixed media project is to HAVE FUN! Throw out the rules. Leave your worries behind and just have fun.

Are you a mixed media artist? Leave a COMMENT below with your best tips.

5 minute art projects for when you’re short on time

By Nicole Tinkham

5 minute art projects for when you don't have much time
We hear it all the time. You want to get more art time into your daily life but your schedule is so packed that you simply can’t make it happen. It’s unfortunate because this is how you grow as an artist. To get better at anything, you must practice consistently. If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment, let us introduce our favorite 5 minute art projects for when you’re short on time.

1.    Zentangle
Zentangle is basically organized doodling. It allows you to clear your mind and completely relax. When you only have 5 minutes, work on a smaller scale. You can use 3”x3” cards and do quick little zentangle designs. It’s super easy to get lost in a zentangle project so you may want to set a timer if you have other things on your agenda.

Learn more about zentangle and how to get started here.

2.    Stamping
Next time you’re in the art supply store, grab a few stamps that jump out to you and ink pads in your favorite colors. When you have a few extra minutes, play around with them. We love making our own greeting cards. It doesn’t take up much of your time and there’s so much to experiment with (like embossing powder). Let your imagination run wild!

3.    Sketching
We encourage ALL ARTISTS to carry around a small sketchbook with them wherever they go. You never know when you’ll gain pockets of time throughout the day when you could be practicing your art. If you’re at work, take a 5 minute break to sketch and clear your mind. Sketch on your morning commute (as long as you’re not the one driving) or 5 minutes before you leave the house in the morning. Once you start actively looking for these segments of time, you’ll realize there are more opportunities than you thought.

4.    Writing
Writing can sometimes seem unrelated to the art we’re normally familiar with but what’s more creative than telling a story? Remember that there are many ways to use your creative mind that don’t involve drawing or painting. If you don’t have a sketchbook (or even if you do), carry around a journal to jot down inspiring thoughts for the day, a story, or some poetry.

5.    Coloring
Have you heard about adult coloring books yet?? They seem to THE hobby to get into these days. We love them because it requires some creativity but you don’t have to put yourself entirely out there if you don’t feel comfortable with your artwork yet. There’s no pressure to finish the page you’re coloring right away if you don’t have time and it’s a great way to escape for a little while.

We only put our artwork on the back burner because we THINK we don’t have time for it. If you’re serious about working on your art every single day, here’s what we want you to do. Write down every single thing you do in a day and how long it takes you to do it. This will open your eyes to where you have some extra time and what you should stop doing or cut back on doing so you can focus on what really matters, your ART!

Tell us, how do you get just a little more art in your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below.

14 Stamp Pads that Actually Exist

By Nicole Tinkham

What we’re about to tell you may come as a complete shock to even the most experienced stamp artist. This is going to rock your world, so take a seat and get ready. Believe it or not, there are 14+ stamp pads available, not including various color choices and brands. We’re talking more than 14 types of INK. While reading this list, you’ll probably recognize the basics (India Ink, Distressed Ink, Alcohol Ink, etc.) but there are several specialty inks that we bet you’ve never had any experience with. As with most stampers, we’re guessing you LOVE to experiment which is exactly what we want you to do. Learn about the many stamp pads listed below, try them out, and share with us your experience/techniques!

These are your GENERAL inks that can be used on just about any type of paper. Find them with felt, linen and sponge surfaces in numerous colors.

How they work: Dye inks soak into the fibers of the paper. These aren’t made for use with embossing powder since they soak in so quickly. They also shouldn’t be used with glossy paper (ink may not dry at all) and clear polymer stamps (leaves a fuzzy impression).

1. Water-Based Inks
Water-based ink may be acid-free but can fade with time or if left in the sun. These are NOT waterproof so don’t use markers or watercolors on top of the stamped image! When used on highly absorbent surfaces, mulberry paper for example, water-based inks tend to bleed.

Here’s something cool: EXPERIMENT with water. You can use water-based inks as watercolor paint, you can mist the stamp with a spray bottle before stamping, and you can try them out on different types of cardstock or watercolor paper.

2. Distressed Ink
Tim Holtz Distress Inks from Ranger. This is what you want to look for to achieve a distressed look. These are water-based dye ink pads that get their desired worn look with antique-like color options. Because they stay wet longer, they can be played around with more.

Try this: Dab the ink pad on a piece of paper and spray with water. Watch as the colors blend and spread!

Walnut ink is another way to get a distressed look. It’s made by (no surprise here) soaking black walnuts in water to produce a browned antique paper look.

3. Waterproof Ink
And here’s the ink most loved by scrapbookers and art journalists! Since they are waterproof, these ink pads can be stamped and then spruced up with markers and watercolors. Bonus: Waterproof ink pads tend to fade less than traditional water-based dyes.

BEWARE: These are often permanent and shouldn’t be used on fabric. The ink can also be tough to clean off stamps but a solvent-based cleaner will do the trick.

4. India Ink
Used for outlines and illustrations, India ink is a rich black, quick-drying dye ink that works well with water-based markers.

5. Alcohol Ink
Alcohol ink is a permanent dye-based ink that comes in bottles rather than ink pads. They’re ideal to use for different techniques such as backgrounds.

Properties: Alcohol ink is fast-drying, acid free, transparent and can be used on just about any surface.

Look for: Ranger Adirondack (Hint: these can be used at full strength or mixed with an alcohol blending solution)

Pigment ink = no dyes. This type of ink is solid pigmentation and tends to be thicker than the dye inks mentioned above. Instead of soaking in and dying the surface, pigment ink dries on top of the surface and remains opaque. This means bright, non-fading colors! These are also great to use with embossing powders.

TIP: For use on glossy paper, pigment inks must be dried with a heat gun.

VersaFine is an oil-based AND water-soluble ink pad. It has the opacity of pigment ink but the quick-drying benefit of dye inks.

Shimmer inks contain shimmery and sparkly particles that offer a unique look. Some types to grab: metallic, pearlescent, and iridescent.

6. Fabric Ink
When heat set, fabric ink becomes permanent which makes them ideal for use on fabric.

HOT tip: Make a mistake? Simply wash the fabric BEFORE heat setting and the ink washes right off!

7. Chalk Ink
This type of ink strongly resembles chalk (without the dust, of course). These can be found in a range of pastel colors and when dry, have a matte finish.

TIP: Use on dark papers for a dramatic look.

8. Solvent-Based Permanent Inks
Solvent-based inks are permanent (once dry) without having to heat set. Use them on just about any type of surface (glass, ceramic, wood, metal, etc.). We recommend StazOn.


9. Hybrid Inks
It’s the mix between pigment and dye inks. Hybrid inks dry faster than pigment inks and are semi-opaque.

WARNING: These hybrids don’t provide as crisp of an image as pigment inks but their versatile properties make them worth trying out.

10. Washable Ink
These non-toxic, water-based inks are made to be used by children. Most will easily wash out of clothes with soap and water.

11. Embossing Ink
These clear ink pads are essentially the same as pigment ink but without the pigment. In order to use embossing powder, some type of ink must be used for the powder to adhere to the surface. Since no pigment is necessary, embossing ink pads are specifically designed for the purpose of embossing.

12. Watermark Ink
Watermarks need to leave a subtle image and a watermark ink pad does exactly that. Use this ink pad to create background designs.

13. Glue Pads
Alright you got us, glue pads are NOT technically ink pads but are still useful in the world of stamping. They can be used with a variety of fun craft supplies. Think glitter, gold leaf, powders, and whatever else you can think of.

14. Rainbow Ink Pads
You don’t have to settle on one ink pad color. Rainbow ink pads offer an array of colors which provide an interesting stamping effect.

Now it’s time to get your hands on one (or more) of these stamp pads and try them out! Our stamp expert Joey has a ton of tricks up her sleeve so feel free to stop in for stamping tips & techniques. Visit our Facebook page with any questions, comments, or tips you’d like to share!