Saturday, March 20, 2010

Unmounting Stamps - My Story

Several times a week I see a request from someone who is interested in unmounting their stamps.
I've been a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator since 2004 and started unmounting almost 4 years ago.
At the time it was not really acceptable to do this but now that Stampin' Up! is offering a clear mount alternative to the traditional wood mount option it has a lot of people wondering if this is the route they should go.
I really think that this is a personal decision. For me it was easy - I ran out of room!
There are many reasons to unmount but the 2 most important ones to me are 1. Storage - too many stamps too little space and 2. better image positioning.
As for unmounting there are so many ways to do it and I have pretty much tried them all!

One thing to keep in mind BEFORE you start - be sure you really want to do this! Because once you unmount your stamps they are not as valuable (resale) as they are on wood blocks. If you're a "working" demo I'm not sure what the rules are but since SU! has gone to unmounted I'm assuming that you can use unmounted all the way in your workshops. Maybe your upline can tell you if that's ok or if you have to use the stamps in the format that they come in (ie/ wood block only sets demo'ed on wood).
For this reason I keep my current stampin' around wheels on the original rollers (yes I unmount my wheels too -keep reading).

So if you are sure that are ready to unmount and these are the stamps that you are going to KEEP then go ahead. But if you're unsure about some sets (maybe you don't LOVE them like your others) you might want to wait on unmounting those and consider using them on wood blocks or eventually sell them.
Here is my LOOOOOONG story of unmounting stamps!

I started off by taking the rubber off the wood blocks - some people like to heat the stamp in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and then peel the rubber and foam off. I did this a few times but really the blocks are left with a bit of sticky on them and not useable. It also made my fingertips very sticky doing it this way.

So I jumped ahead to just peeling the rubber off the wood blocks (no heating) and leaving the foam on the block. If the rubber didn't come off with my fingernail I used an exacto knife to get it to start separating from the foam and then my fingers to peel it off the rest of the way.

That left me with lots of rubber to do something with.

So the first thing I tried was ez-mount and trimming with a hot knife. That was getting expensive because I had soooo many stamps to do and it took a long time. You had to make a jigsaw puzzle on the ez-mount with your stamps and then cut them out (not to mention the smell of burning foam!) and then try to figure out which sets the stamps went with! Oh BOY!

During this time I was also using cling film for my new stamps - ones that had not yet been mounted on the wood blocks. I'd just take the paper liner off the foam and then stick them on the cling. The cling film sheets weren't that expensive but to get more for your money you can buy the clear vinyl tablecloth (from Walmart in the fabric dept sold on the rolls). BUT again MORE cutting/trimming and sorting. This was also so time consuming!

Then I discovered Aleene's Tack It Over and Over (from Michaels) and I've been using that ever since. You just paint this glue on the back of the red rubber, leave it to dry, de-tack it a bit and then voila it's ready to use! You can do a ton of stamps in one sitting and even keep them in the case so there is no desparate re-sorting at the end of this process!

Someone posted on one of my groups that you can actually add Aleene's to the back of the paper liner on NEW stamps (before they're mounted) and that seemed to work but I've never tried it.

With unmounting to just rubber there was some concern about not having the foam for cushion and that the images wouldn't stamp very well. Well I got around that by stamping on a sheet of fun foam and it does the trick. The images do come out as nice as on the wood blocks - sometimes even better!
After the initial flurry of unmounting most of my stamps I decided to tackle my wheels.

You just cut the seam on the wheel rubber and peel it away from the plastic spool. There is no foam to deal with - just rubber strips! I write the name of the wheel in Sharpie on the back of the rubber. I store my wheels in one single storage box.
I had custom clear blocks made at a local glass shop for both the regular and jumbo wheels. I do not put Aleen's Tack It on these because they would then stick together in the box. Instead I used the double sided clear tape on the block and stick the rubber to the block when I need to use it.

The only stamps that I haven't unmounted are my alphas and background stamps. The alphas because they would be so much work and lots of little bits of rubber to contain and the backgrounds because they are easy enough to store on a bookshelf with a side label.
I have to confess that lately I haven't had time to do a major Aleen's Tack It session with my stamps (ok maybe I've accumulated more that I care to admit since the last time) and I've been getting by with putting double sided clear tape on my blocks and then pressing the rubber stamp onto it. It is temporary and it does work quite well!

Along with all this unmounting you have to consider a cataloging system - I wish that I continued stamping image inserts as I unmounted my stamps. But I got lazy/distracted/interrupted and stopped doing this after the first 50 or so!This would have made a great reference book for finding the stamps. I did try several times to come up with catalogs for my stamps but there are so many now and the task is too daunting for me right now!

For new stamps I'm tucking the sticker sheet into the CD case with the rubber.

I keep all of my stamps (mostly Stampin' Up!) in their original sets in empty CD cases in linen storage boxes (Martha Stewart from Michaels). Each box holds about 30 CD cases.

For comparison sake I want to show you these 2 photos. The first photo shows one shelf of approx 30 stamp sets (in their original cases) and the next photo shows approx 30 stamp sets stored in one CD storage box. 3 of these storage boxes fit on a shelf! So I'm working with them in categories in these storage boxes.
This is an old photo and now I have 9 boxes filled with Stampin' Up! stamps and another 5 filled with other company stamps!

I organize the boxes this way for Stampin' Up!

CURRENT - by alpha

RETIRED - alpha by themes

For non Stampin' Up! stamps I have separate boxes for each company and then I store them by theme.

The only drawback - again from a lack of catalog - is that I have to know what I'm looking for and then I look for it. I can't just browse at the images (in my non-existent catalog) and go for something that I might have forgotten that I have.

So I usually end up using the same stamps over and over again. Do you know what I mean?

Well if you've read this entire post I wan to thank you for sticking with me. I hope you found it informative and that it has helped you to make your unmounting decision!

If you want MORE information click on THIS LINK and it will take you to a list of all the unmounting posts here on my blog and you can see all the photos and instructions for what I've done.


  1. marie...I always lov eyour tutorials on unmounting stamps...I am still contemplating doing mine.
    connie paxman

  2. Marie--what a doll!!; you're so thoughtful to pass along your wisdom with unmounting & the down side of it all too; thanks so much; ike yourself, I'm out of room & need to get into action; THANKS!!

  3. Wow, thanks for the unmounting tips! What I do for cataloging is I photocopy the sticker sheet twice (assuming you mount on wood). I put one sheet into a binder and the other sheet taped onto the case that houses the stamps.

    If you have an extra old catty and old minis, you can cut the images of sets you own and use those instead. Saves you from stamping it all out if you don't have the sticker sheet to photocopy.

  4. thank you for sharing your storry; this info. is just what I need right now, with the on-going dilemma I'm having in my room......!!!!!!!

  5. I un-mounted all of mine, put them on foam and use See-D's cling on new SU stamps. I store them in binders that were purchased during back to school sales. I couldn't be happier with my decision. BTW, I have been noticing a few sets on ebay that are unmounted, and they are going for just as much as the wood mounted and ship for a lot less!

  6. I am taking all stampin up, unity stamps putting trees with trees birthday words all in the same case. But little worry because the little tiny stamps could get lost. Bit hoping if I do this. I can grab Halloween skulls then look for the case this just Halloween words to make a card. At Chirtmas I was looking for words for mine hubby and I pull out so so many sets just for Chirtstmad words so he can and my self cards to our family and friends. Now I have couple case with words hoping next year we both can find the the right words for the inside our cards. And when I putting then in cases I finding a lot stamps are just not getting used and I have more ideas as I putting them in cases in themes. I wiorry because I hoping I doing the right thing for me.
    I still at working taking all the stamp sets apart. I did like them the way they where because if I was missing one I would see a hole that it is missing then look at picture to see what I am looking for.
    I feeling mix feeling. Hoping that I am on the right path so I can enjoy mine art room and not spending time looking or bring out so many sets
    To create a card.
    Any idea please I need help :-)
    Just want to create cards and have art room clean