Reported by Simone Collins
When I caught my first glimpse of the Teresa Collins Stampmaker at CHA last summer, I knew it was going to be a product that we would definitely need to put to the test, and that is just what I did. Photocentric, creator of the Stampmaker, claims that “this revolutionary machine will change the way you create.” With the ability to create polymer stamps, stencils and embossing plates from any image, text, or photo, this may do just that.
The Stampmaker kit includes, the Stampmaker light unit, enough polymer pacs to make ten stamps, two stencils, two embossing plates, and everything you need to make those. Also included are exclusive, pre-printed Teresa Collins designs, as well as two sheets of transparency to create your own designs. The whole kit retails for $169, which is a substantial initial investment, but depending on the amount of stamps you want to create, or if you plan on selling your creations, it could pay for itself over time.
In order to create your own custom stamps, you will need to create your images using Photoshop or the free Photofiltre software that Photocentric recommends. In order to create my images, I used Photoshop since Photofiltre is not Mac compatible. I also utilized some of the free downloadable images from the Stampmaker website. A new set of images are available each month. These images fill an entire 8.5″ x 11″ transparency.
You can also use your own drawings, handwriting, or doodles to create a stamp:
Here is a tutorial on how to turn your handwritten image to create a stamp:
One of the best things about the Stampmaker is that you can turn any photo into a stamp. Photocentric has helpful videos to show you how to do this with the Photofiltre software.
The steps to turn a photo stamp with Photoshop are very simple as well. I would consider myself a Photoshop novice and I even I could do this with very little help or googling.
With the stamps I made from my nephew’s graduation photo I took, I made this neat card to give him at his party this weekend. He’s gonna love it.
And this cute cupcake topper since I am the one bringing the sweets to the party this weekend. Notice how this stamp is slightly different from the other. I used the photocopy setting for the top one, and the stamp setting for this one. I like them both.
You can also use free Photoshop brushes to create some really neat images.
Once your images are all set, it’s time to print. In order to get the darkest images, it is important to set your printer on glossy photo paper at the highest quality. Then comes the worst part of my entire stamp making process…the printing. My super wonderful Epson photo printer does not have a transparency setting and thus, made the printing experience an absolute nightmare. I spent more time attempting to print my transparencies than actually creating the stamps. Apparently transparencies are not in demand as they once were and printers sometimes do not come with this option. Photocentric recommends an inexpensive printer that is widely available. An alternative to printing your own transparencies at home would be to send them to your local print shop and have them do the printing. The cost is minimal and would eliminate this whole headache.
Then comes the stamp making. This whole process takes no more than 7 minutes. Choose your image, place the polymer in the clamp with the word ImagePac in reverse. Lay the image on top of polymer with inked side against the pack and add the top of the clamp. Press down on the center of the clamp to ensure evenness of the polymer. Check to make sure there are no creases by holding the clamped image up. Place in Stampmaker, image on the bottom for three seconds, then flip over and leave in Stampmaker for three minutes. Remove from Stampmaker, clip ends and scrub the excess polymer away. This part of the process is sticky, real sticky. Then place it in a tray of water and back in the Stampmaker for 2 minutes. And you’re done.
Here’s a quick look at the whole process:
The process is really very simple and the results are pretty amazing. With that being said, I did get some faulty polymer and some of my results varied, but the customer service at Photocentric is top notch. I am constantly complaining about the lack of customer service these days but this company was not only quick to answer my emails but also sent out replacement polymer packs immediately. Also, when I had problems creating a stencil, Charlie walked me through the entire process over the phone, and low and behold it was my own dang fault. When you are investing in tool like this, that is a very valuable commodity.
Here are a few more samples I made with the stamps I created with the Stampmaker. There’s a cute little sign for my bathroom door to remind my teen that we all share the main floor bathroom.
I also made a card with the bicycle from the free download section on the Stampmaker website.
And I made a birthday card with a photo stamp of my dogs and a handwritten stamp as well. The big dog had mixed results because he is black and white in the face and that is a hard combination for getting the photo stamp just right. But if you compare it to the photo, it’s obviously my Nas and Dita, just minus the cute party hats.
Some important tips to remember when making your stamps…
- Don’t scrub too hard when you are in the cleaning step. If you do, you will wind up like me and have a stamp with a word missing.
- Make sure you “kneed” your polymer pack before you use it. Also, don’t forget to press down firmly on the stamp clamp for 10 seconds before placing it in the light unit. This will eliminate any creases or unevenness of the stamps.
- Leave your polymer packs in their case or a dark area when you are not using them. Prolonged exposure to light will begin the polymer setting process, so keep them away from light.
- Your transparencies need to be black, I mean the blackest black. If you hold your image up to a light source and spots don’t seem to be completely blacked out, you can blacken with a marker to ensure the darkest image.
The timer on the Stampmaker is not really useful. Since there are different processing times for each type of item you can make, you will need to use your own timer.
My overall impression of the Stampmaker is that it is a simple way to get the stamps you always wanted but could never find to buy. I could see someone making custom stamps for friends or a small business with this little tool. It’s so easy to get started and the results are really incredible. I say it is worth the investment and could be something that would pay for itself over time.
- Easy to use and fast for creating custom stamps.
- Video included in the kit as well as everything needed to get started right away.
- Incredible customer service at Photocentric in case you have any questions or problems.
- The written instructions could be better and more organized.
- Printing out your images may be a problem depending on your printer.
- Refill polymer packs may be difficult to find locally but are readily available online.
What do you think of this new tool? Is this something you would consider purchasing? What stamps would you make and how would YOU use them?
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