Loc: london, england
|Posted: 3/12/2013 7:06:26 AM|It depends on the company (or rather, the manufacturing process used by the company, to be more specific). If the process leaves a residue on their clear stamps, then I will 'condition' them to get a cleaner stamped image. In general, shinier clear stamps will stamp much better once conditioned.
To see if a specific new set of stamps would benefit from conditioning, just ink one with the ink you tend to usually use and stamp it on scrap paper. If the design shows perfectly clear, you're good - don't worry about conditioning and just carry on crafting. If the design looks blotty, beaded, or fuzzy, then conditioning may help. Try it with one stamp and stamp again next to the original design - if you see a difference in a good way, then proceed with the rest!
There are a few different ways to condition stamps, as essentially you want to remove the residue or coating that prevents the ink from spreading evenly over the surface of the stamp. I use a white eraser and rub over the whole design until the stamp looks matte and cloudy white rather than clear and shiny. Then I spray with a bit of 'cleaner' (there are special cleaners you can buy or you can use dish soap and water in a spray bottle) and then scrub with a cloth or stamp scrubber to remove the eraser dust. Ink and stamp again, and it should be much cleaner in the design.
Of course - there are also some inks that just work better with some stamps - so there's more than one factor to consider if you have a stamp that isn't coming out as well as you had hoped.
I condition all my American Crafts stamps as soon as I open them and find it's really worthwhile, while my Studio Calico brand stamps don't really need it - they stamp fine straight away. (I know that's a little confusing since Studio Calico comes under the American Crafts family of brands - but their stamps are produced by Hero Arts, not the same factory that makes the AC stamps overseas, if you can keep all that straight!) There are lots of opinions on whether that means certain stamps are not worth buying, etc, but I tend to see a pretty obvious correlation in price to quality - the stamps that need conditioning are usually cheaper than those that don't. If there is a design I like, I will go ahead either way - and as they are usually a bargain, I don't feel slighted about that little extra step to get their best image when stamping... and likewise, when a stamp is really high quality, I don't mind that the price point is a little higher. I guess I've never met a stamp I didn't like....