Thoughts on Acrylic Stamps

I am always on the lookout for a bargain, so I was thrilled to see the new value brand at Jo Ann Fabrics. It’s called Ms. Sparkle & Co. Paperie.

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I was most interested in these bins where all of the products were $1.99, though I did see other products of the same branding throughout the paper crafting section at slightly higher price points.  As you can see in the photo, these products were also part of the 40% paper crafting supplies sale, and at the time of writing this there is also a 25% off coupon that you can stack on top of that! They have everything in these bins. Stickers, clothespins, tags, envelopes, notecards, paper pads in all different sizes, ink, stamps, twine, washi tape, and even adhesives!

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I immediately went for the stamps of course, and as my hands were filling up with one of each design, I paused. I tend to go overboard when it comes to stamps, especially these acrylic kind which are absolutely everywhere! I have certainly come across a lot of duds, so, as I reminded myself of this I decided to just buy my favorite one and try it out first. This is the set that I started with:

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How could I resist this font!? I am a sucker for a good looking alphabet. I spelled out a few phrases and tried stamping with black dye ink as well as using a couple different embossing powders. I got crisp result with the embossing powder, but I felt that the dye ink came out a little spotty. This could just be because the stamps are new. I have noticed that acrylic stamps sometimes need a little breaking in before getting good ink coverage.

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This was a fairly simple trial just to get an initial impression. I plan to keep trying them with different inks later on. Overall, I think these are a good purchase. The packaging and branding are clean and simple, which I really appreciate. You can’t beat the price and there are a lot of cute designs. I have already gone back to purchase more since trying these out.

Now, let’s talk about Michael’s. Oh Michael’s, I really wanted to like your stamps, but they just are not what I expected. The Michaels brand is called Recollections. There are tons of different stamp sets, and they are cute! I especially like their latest collection in the planner aisle. However, right out of the gate I have a problem with the look of these stamps. Perhaps this is just me, but I have a very hard time seeing what the designs are because they have taken to this habit of printing all their packages in a rainbow. Take this stamp for instance.

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I had no idea until I stamped it that the words had a sketchy effect on the edges, because I couldn’t see it clearly on the package.

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And the stamps in this holiday set are so tiny and detailed, even when I hold a white piece of paper behind it I find them difficult to see.

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Obviously packaging is not nearly as important as how they stamp, but that is a bit of a disappointment as well. I did not stamp every design from these two sets, but did try to get a good variety. The “thinking of you” sentiment came out pretty nice each time, but the rest were very sensitive. I have found that to get the best image, you need to be very gentle and just kiss the paper with it. Pressing firmly or unevenly at all creates a blob, and many of the images in the calendar set are so tiny that the details filled in with ink. The letters on this “Happy Halloween” were supposed to be outlines, and the “Let’s Celebrate” is barely legible.

TheRecollections stamps cost much more than the Ms. Sparkle ones, though they are sometimes slightly larger or come with a stencil or dies.

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It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the quality of acrylic stamps when you hold them in your hand. The better the stamp, the thicker and firmer the acrylic will be. The problem is, you can’t really tell through the packaging, and if you are buying online you really can’t get a good look at them. I purchased quite a few sets on ebay from China for around $1 a piece. For the most part they were not good. The polymer was soft, cloudy, and uneven. Sometimes when a deal seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. I have really enjoyed using Lawn Fawn and Kelly Purkey stamps. They are high quality, and have amazing designs. There are a lot of other brands out there that I hope to try soon!

Have you tried any of the Ms.Sparkle & Co. products? What are your favorite value brands?

The Silhouette PixScan

Today I wanted to talk about something called the PixScan mat for the Silhouette Cameo. This is a way of taking an existing image and importing it into your Silhouette to cut it out. I got this mat because I really wanted to be able to turn my stamped images into die cuts without having to cut every image out by hand. This will be a simplified overview of how it works, and what my results have been.

The first time you use the PixScan mat there are some instructions you will need to follow to calibrate it. After that, the process is pretty simple. You place your paper on the mat, take a picture with your phone and upload it into Silhouette Studio. I have found that shiny images, especially metallic colors, are difficult for the silhouette to read, so keep that in mind.

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Once the photo is uploaded, you can use the trace function to generate your cut lines, and then you can manipulate them from there. I like to leave a little bit of a border around mine rather than cutting right to the edge of the image. There is an easy tool in Silhouette Design Studio called Offset that helps you do this.

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Here you can see the difference between cutting to the edge and using an offset.

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When you are ready, choose your blade settings and cut it out.

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Some images come out better than others, and I haven’t yet mastered this tool. As you can see below, the flamingos turned out really well, but flower pot is way off.

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Have you ever used the PixScan mat? Share your tips and tricks below!