What Are Photopolymer Stamps?

What are photopolymer stamps? Are they the same as polymer stamps? How about clear stamps and rubber stamps? If you are a beginner in card making, figuring out which stamp is the right one for you could get surprisingly overwhelming. Crafting companies have been releasing a plethora of stamps over the past years. There are so many designs, patterns, and styles to choose from! Among the different types of stamps, though, the one that stands out the most (and for a good reason) are photopolymer clear stamps. If you want to find out more about these stamps, how to use them in card making and paper crafting, as well as tips on how to store, condition, and clean them, keep on reading!

Altenew photopolymer stamps

Shop for Clear Stamps at Altenew

Also known as clear acrylic stamps, photopolymer stamps or polymer stamps are made up of photopolymer material. These stamps are higher in quality as compared to acrylic stamps. If you have been using rubber stamps, cling stamps, and acrylic stamps for a while, and have just started using a photopolymer stamp set, you would agree that it is life-changing. Essentially, this stamp is used to transfer a design or an image onto a surface, using inks (dye inks, pigment inks, etc.). Because of this stamp’s sticky nature, the ink sticks very well to the stamp’s design, therefore resulting in a crisp stamped image. 

If you are up for some light reading and want to know more about the difference between photopolymer clear stamps, acrylic stamps, rubber stamps, cling stamps, and other types of stamps for paper crafting, see more ideas about stamping here.

Here are a few things that you must know about these clear stamps:

  • It comes in a plastic, resealable sheet.
  • It is usually sandwiched between two clear acetate sheets.
  • Most companies have the stamp image/design printed on one of the acetate sheets so that you know where to put the stamp back. 
  • It is usually heavier than a normal acrylic stamp.
  • It is clear, transparent, and shiny.
  • It is stretchy and thicker than acrylic stamps.
  • It is higher in quality and more durable than acrylic stamps.
  • It has a strong chemical smell due to the photopolymer resin used in manufacturing. 
  • It is not flimsy or fragile like acrylic stamps.
  • It is usually made in the US. 
  • It must be used with an acrylic block, a stamping block, or a stamping platform.
  • Storage tip! You can keep them in their original plastic sheet container or organize them by storing them in a plastic sheet folder or albums. You can also keep them in storage pouches or Ziploc bags. 
  • It must be stored AWAY from direct sunlight, and in a cool, dry place.
Photopolymer stamp set from Altenew

Retro Plantines Stamp Set from Altenew

How Do You Use Photopolymer Stamps?

If you aren’t new to stamping, you already know the whole process and the basics. Similar to acrylic stamps, using photopolymer clear stamps is pretty much straightforward. They are super easy to use that even your kids can figure them out. 

Here are 6 easy steps on how to use photopolymer stamps:

  1. Condition the stamp with a stamp conditioning eraser or a watermark/embossing ink, especially if they are new. (Read more on stamp conditioning below!) 
  2. Peel back the stamp’s acetate backing sheet.
  3. Peel the stamp from the clear acetate liner. 
  4. Place it onto a clear acrylic stamping block. Since it will quickly cling to it, there is no need to use any kind of additional adhesive or a cushion. 
  5. Press it firmly onto the acrylic stamping block to ensure that it is well-adhered. 
  6. Next, simply ink it up with your chosen ink and stamp away!

Piece of cake, right? Once you get the hang of it, you can stamp with your photopolymer stamp set even with your eyes closed.  

The video below will show you a quick and easy tutorial on how to use DIY photopolymer stamps in card making.

What Is Stamp Conditioning and How Do You Condition Clear Stamps? 

Do you want to avoid blotchy stamped images? Are you tired of your stamp sticking too much to your cardstock or paper? Do you want to get clean and crisp stamped images every single time? The most important thing you have to remember when using clear stamps is that you need to condition them.

Stamp conditioning eraser set

Stamp conditioning eraser set from Altenew

Here are some tools that you can use to prepare or condition your stamps:

  1. Use a clear watermark ink or embossing ink.
  2. Use a rubber eraser.
  3. Use your fingers. Yes, you can use your fingers if you find yourself without an embossing ink or a rubber eraser. Simply rub the sticky part of the photopolymer clear stamp using your finger. It’s as simple as that.  
  4. Use alcohol prep pads. You can use these to clean up any rubber eraser residue.
  5. Use a stamp cleaner. This is a handy tool to have since it is designed to clean stamps better than anything else - especially when you have no access to clean water and soap. 
  6. Use a stamp shammy. This is basically a piece of cloth that you need to soak with water.

New photopolymer stamp sets are sometimes too sticky and shiny. The stickiness is both a good thing and a bad thing; it allows it to stick well to an acrylic block or a stamping platform, but it also prevents the ink from sticking to it. This is due to the fact that clear stamps are made using a resist method. The chemicals that cause that “resist” will create that stickiness. The same chemicals will also resist ink. Conditioning your stamp will give you a clean, crisp, and smooth stamped image and get rid of the unwanted lumps, fiber, dust, or other strands.

How to Clean Photopolymer Stamps?

Now that you know how to use photopolymer stamps, it’s also essential to learn the process of cleaning photopolymer stamps. Even beginner stampers should know that stamps must be cleaned every after use. Not cleaning them afterward will affect their quality and might permanently stain them.

Here are a few stamp cleaning tools that you can use:

  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Clean cloth
  • Stamp cleaner
  • Stamp shammy
  • Baby wipes or wet wipes (not highly recommended since there are instances where it would leave fibers onto your stamps)

Cleaning photopolymer stamps with stamp cleaner

Stamp Cleaner from Altenew

Altenew has a multipurpose stamp cleaner that is made for both clear stamps and rubber stamps. This cleaner will work with water-based or permanent inks. Simply spray it onto the surface of your stamp and wipe clean with a soft cloth or a stamp shammy. Cleaning photopolymer stamps will help you take care of your beloved stamp sets. This will ensure that you can use them for a long time and make the most out of them. 

Finding the Best Photopolymer Stamp Sets for your Paper Crafting Needs!

Photopolymer stamps are must-haves in every paper crafter’s tool kit. These might be a bit pricier than acrylic stamps or rubber stamps, but these are a worthy investment. With proper care and storage, these clear stamps will last for years - even decades. You can try a wide variety of card making and paper crafting techniques with these stamps and create many handmade cards, scrapbook pages, and other DIY projects.

Ready to start with stamping? Check out our stamp collections!