Hot Weather & Your Rubber Stamps
During a long California heat wave, with 100º temperatures for over a week, I thought about what stampers might want and need to know about how the heat and sun affects these special craft tools.
While we can stand the heat, our wonderful rubber stamps might have a little trouble if not protected. With that in mind, I offer these suggestions.
Low humidity & Rubber Stamps
Where ever the humidity drops below 20% it is a good idea to keep stamps in closed containers. I keep mine inside drawers or plastic boxes, and they are lasting for years. I’ve been told by those living in the southwest deserts that rubber dries out quickly, cracking and becoming useless. This is a big issue with cars: tires, hoses, gaskets, all dry out and need replacing more frequently than more humid climates. Your rubber and polymer stamps are susceptible to drying out in the open air.
Age-related drying can also be an issue.
UV Rays & rubber Stamps
The other destructive force is UV rays. Never leave your stamps near a window where they might get any sun light hitting them. This is true any time of the year. UV rays dry out the rubber or polymer causing cracking.
Heat & Mounted Rubber Stamps
Heat is also a problem for mounted stamps even if hidden from the sun. The glue of the cushion material can get so hot that it loses its grip on the wood. You could go to get that stamp and find it has slipped out of place or completely fallen off.
BUT, there are things you can do –
Solutions to care for rubber stamps
your stamps by keeping them in dark folders, plastic boxes, or drawers (locations with higher humidity can leave mounted stamps on shelves as long as no direct sun can get to them).
your stamps with plain glycerin to rehydrate and protect. Glycerin keeps the rubber moist and preserves its life, especially in dry climates. Rub a little on with your finger or a soft brush, and wipe the excess off with a soft cloth. Glycerin comes off with water.
Glycerin can also be used as a release agent when stamping into polymer clay, although embossing ink is great for that use, too. I’ve seen glycerin bring 70-year-old stamps back to life.
Glycerin is available at drug stores or pharmacies.
Instead of glycerin you can use clear embossing or watermark ink as a protective coating. That, too, will wash off with a little water on a cloth or stamp scrubber.
Never put oils, vegetable, butter, or mineral, on rubber or polymer stamps, as that would ruin stamps from ever holding ink again. Over time oils will turn rubber to mush. Use oils ONLY if you are using a stamp exclusively for cookie making or other culinary application.
Alcohol and other solvents should be avoided when cleaning rubber, as they will cause the rubber to dry out and crack, and that’s what we are trying to avoid.
A little caution goes a long way
Take good care of your stamps and they’ll provide years, decades, maybe even 70+ years, of fun and creativity.