My Favorite Sources of Rubber Stamps
Updated: May 9
Am I the only one who fantasizes about a rubber stamp library? Imagine: an endless selection of stamps, the freedom to test stamps you're unsure about, and the ability to off-load the ones you've grown tired of. What could be better?
Unfortunately, this fantasy may never come to pass, so, for now, purchasing stamps is the way to go. In this post I'm sharing my absolute FAVORITE online sources of rubber stamps. (Also clear stamps, by the way. And if you hate clear stamps, skip to the note at the end and see if I can convince you otherwise).
Before I start let me just say I am not being compensated for this post and I am not listing every online store I've ever bought rubber stamps from. These are stores that I love SO much that I have to forcefully will myself not to purchase all my favorites or risk financial disaster. Come to think of it, maybe you won't thank me for showing them to you.
Caveat: Sizes are NOT TO SCALE!
Okay. In no particular order:
This Ohio-based purveyor of "fine rubber art stamps" was founded in 1980 and sells red rubber stamps in mounted, unmounted, and cling foam styles (more on these distinctions later). Every stamp shown on the site is made in the US and is always in stock. Categories include (but are not limited to) Calligraphy & Writing, Anatomy & Skeletons, Aquatic Life, Birds, Flora, Insects, Postal and Travel & Maps. Here are a few more of my favorites with their names in case you want to look for them.
Squiggle with Tail
Number Set Block
Gretchen Myers of Lafayette, Louisiana, started Mad Rat Rubber in 2004 as a way to create the stamps she wanted for her own projects. She has a variety of Alice in Wonderland stamps as well as Body Parts, Fossils, Science, Celestial and more. The shop features some mixed-media, collage and assemblage supplies in addition to red rubber stamps in mounted, unmounted, and cling foam styles . Here is a sampling of stamps I've purchased from them.
ABC Revenue Stamp
Woman in Profile
I could spend -- and probably have spent-- hours scrolling through the stamps from this California-based seller. They started in 1995 as a collection of mainly scenic stamps but now offer a huge variety of artistic styles. I shop from these folks on Etsy, but they also have a stand-along site here. Some of my rubber stamps from them include:
Based in Nevada, Desert Stamps has a wonderful and seemingly endless collection of rubber stamps featuring vintage imagery with a playful and funky vibe. They've been on Etsy since 2019 but also have an independent online shop. Here are some of my favorites:
Eye by Cat Kerr
Girls Face by Cat Kerr
This German company creates absolutely stunning stamps based on antique and vintage book illustrations. I've bought fewer stamps from them versus other shops only because the shipping costs from Europe are quite high. But their images are absolutely gorgeous and exquisitely detailed. They exclusively sell red rubber cling stamps designed to be used with acrylic blocks.
Small Garden Snail
Background Text Natural History
If you love sending snail mail, you will thank me for pointing you in the direction of 2impress. This Texas-based Etsy shop sells a dizzying array of custom address stamps in a wide variety of styles. Bo, the owner, has been designing and manufacturing all the red rubber stamps on his own since 2010. I own two but would buy at least 10 if money were no object. They come in regular wood-mounted and also in the extremely convenient self-inking style.
Self-Inking USPS Meter Design
USPS Post Design
Wintertime Crafts is owned by vintage ephemera collector and graphic designer Heidi Meamber who creates her clear stamp sets using elements from her collection of books and ephemera from the late 1800s and early 1900s. She includes a lot of postal-themed stamps in her designs, which is one of the reasons I love them so much. Also, her stamps are manufactured from photopolymer rather than acrylic, which is heavier, firmer, and more conducive to crips images than typical clear stamps.
To A Friend
Spring, The Seasons Collection
Travel the World
Some would probably argue that I should have started my list with AliExpress. This wondrous site features many of the stamps you can find in Etsy shops (not including the Etsy shops listed above) but at wholesale prices with affordable shipping. Based in China, it is basically a world-wide ecommerce service owned by the Alibaba Group where hundreds (thousands?) of independent small businesses offer their products to an international audience. It can be addictive. You have been warned.
Number stamp clear stamp
Pen and Ink Transparent Stamp
Eyes Transparent Clear Stamp
Insect Stamp Clear Stamp
Jim Stephan is a retiree who makes all his rubber stamps himself. Though he offers a variety of stamp styles but he is, in my opinion, the King of Postal Cancellation Stamps-- if that is your thing, and it's definitely mine. More to the point, his stamps are based on real-world postmarks and cancellations, not invented ones made by graphic designers. Finally, he gives freebies! Seriously. I ordered three cancellation stamps, he sent me seven. One caveat: many of his stamps are not mounted on wood, or foam, so you have to know how to mount them. Notes on that below. Here are the three unmounted stamps I ordered. I liked some of the freebies he sent even more.
Europe Postal Cancellation
London & Paris
I am not a rubber stamp expert! I offer the information below based solely on my own experiences and preferences. If anyone reading this is a rubber stamp expert, and you have suggestions for corrections, send me a message!
A Note on Acrylic and Foam Mounted Stamps
Stamps that are sold without a wooden block attached often need an acrylic block for stability and best results. Acrylic blocks look like the photo below. You can find them here
A Note on Unmounted Stamps
If you purchase unmounted stamps, they will arrive with no wooden block and no foam mount. Look at the photos of Jim's Rubber Stamps above for a visual reference. They are nearly impossible to use without attaching them to something. My preferred mounting system is a foam called EZ Mount that you can buy on Amazon.
The mounting process works like this: The foam mount has a sticky side (to grab your stamp) and a slick side (to cling to the acrylic block.) Trim your unmounted rubber stamp, cut a piece of foam mount that's about the same size or larger (without removing the backing) and then remove the backing from the sticky side and attach the stamp to the foam piece. Then trim closely around the stamp again to remove the excess foam. It can be a sticky business. Best to use teflon-coated scissors if you have them or sprinkle a little flour or talcum powder on the exposed sticky foam to disable the adhesive. I love this foam, it works like a champ.
An Aside for Acrylic Haters:
Let's talk about silicone (or acrylic, or clear, or transparent ) stamps for a moment. I know there are those who believe them to be inferior to red rubber. While it can be harder to get very fine, crisp details with lesser quality acrylic stamps, I was eventually won over by them, and here's why:
1) Being transparent, they allow a perfect view of exactly where you are placing your stamp before you place it. I cannot overstate how valuable this is, especially when you are adding a stamp as final layer on a collage. That final stamp has the ability to ruin your entire composition by being a fraction of an inch off. This quality by itself would be enough for me to adore them, but there's more.
1) They are more affordable than red rubber. By a lot.
2) They take up less space than wood-mounted red rubber. You can fit many layers of clear stamps in a drawer, or slip them inside page protectors and keep them in binders.
3) The variety is incredible.
These are huge benefits, and they convinced me to commit myself to figuring out acrylic stamps. I experimented a lot and discovered that in most cases, you cannot put all your weight into them like you can with red rubber. Rubber does well with lots of pressure so this can be a hard habit to break. But most clear stamps have a gelatin-like quality that demands a gentler approach. Experiment and try different amounts of pressure. And before you stamp your project, stamp a scrap piece of paper first to remind yourself how much force is required for that particular stamp. Some of my clear stamps tolerate more force than others. Photopolymer stamps, for example, are heavier and firmer than acrylic, and tolerate more pressure. But even some acrylic stamps that were a smudgy disaster when I pressed hard on them became pristinely perfect when I used a very light touch.
One more thing --sometimes clear stamps come from the factory with a coating that makes the ink sort of bead up on them. In that case you take a white or pink eraser, or some very VERY fine sandpaper, and you buff them up just a bit. Then they'll grab the ink like you want them to.
If you made it all the way here to the end THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading! See you next time, and happy stamping.