Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My First Stamp Made with the Teresa Collins Stampmaker

Hello everyone!

Today's post is basically a product review to share my experience with the Teresa Collins Stampmaker.  It is a long post, but I wanted to be very thorough about exactly how it went for me.
I have been wanting one since it was announced, but I watched and waited.  Listening to all the feedback.  A lot of people had complaints and problems, but some people were making gorgeous stamps and I heard that the customer service was amazing.  So, I took the plunge and ordered one from HSN that came with some extra stuff to get me started including a DVD from Above Rubies Studio.

Here's the deal!  I'm glad I bought the product.  It does work.  I am pleased with the stamp I created.  I am going to tell you about the whole process and what I did and didn't like about it.

First thing that happened was I was confused about how to get my negatives to print black enough.  Apparently laser printers are not good for this, so I used my regular inkjet printer.  I was able to get good results.  I set it to use the maximum amount of ink and all that.  Took a little playing with, and was actually the hardest part of the process for me.  Now that I know the settings that worked on my printer it will be easy for all future projects.

I was pretty paranoid about exposing my polymer packets to much light since it is possible for them to harden if exposed to certain lights.  I actually turned the lights off in my kitchen while I was prepping my stamp packet.  I had enough light in the room next to it that I was able to see.  I don't think this level of paranoia is necessary, but I wanted to be safe and not sorry.

I spent awhile really pushing the clamp together.  If the polymer isn't "smushed" evenly I could end up with a part of my stamp being higher and then it wouldn't stamp as well.  Because I had the lights off I figured I could spend as long as I wanted and it wouldn't hurt anything.

I turned my stampmaker on a couple minutes before I inserted the packet.  That way it had a chance to warm up.
I did use the "flash process" which is where you put the stamp in the wrong way for a very short amount of time to get a thin layer of polymer all over.  I heard this was good for intricate words and tiny stamps.  I counted 1, 2.  Very quickly!  Then removed it.  VERY short flash time was perfect.

I set my timer before I placed the stamp in so all I had to do was push start the second I put the stamp in.  I just used the timer on my microwave.

Cutting into the polymer packet was freakin' gross!  *LOL*  It smells, and it's SUPER sticky.  DO not use your favorite scissors.  Yes, it washes off, but eww.  My hands felt SO nasty.  I really hate being sticky so I did hate this part of the process.

ABSOLUTELY do this over a sink.  It is supposedly possible to do this with a bowl of warm water.  Honestly, I can't imagine doing that.  I spent several minutes at this even with super hot running water.  
First I rinsed the stamp to get a lot of the excess off.  Then I gently rubbed my fingers over it while still running the water.  I added a little dish detergent.  I found that kind of stuck to the polymer and was messy, but needed.  Finally I grabbed the brush that comes in the kit and went to work.  I used sort of a circular motion.  I focused on using one end of the brush and doing tiny sections at a time.  The stamp I made was small and delicate.  I didn't want to scratch it up or tear it.  So, I took my time.  No rush, just VERY slow and careful.  I held the stamp up many times to look at different angles and check for extra polymer in the tiny spaces in between the letters.

The last step was super easy.  I just put a little water in the plastic tray they provide.  Then I used the timer setting on the machine for how long to harden it.
Here's my stamp used a couple times.  Once in Craft pigment ink and once in a Classic Stampin' Up pad.  The photo isn't the best because the camera focused incorrectly.  It did stamp well.  Not 100% perfect, but very well.  WAY better than the cheap clear stamps.  Not as evenly as the more costly photopolymer stamps I have purchased, but pretty close.  I think a lot of that has to do with user error too.  The scrubbing didn't exactly feel natural to me.  I may have over scrubbed some sections.
Here's the breakdown of my opinions at this point.

I am glad I purchased it.  I think it was worth the cost, and the refills are pretty affordable.

I don't think it is as easy as they acted like it was on HSN.  The mess the polymer packet makes it pretty bad.  My hands took forever to wash.  I did have luck cleaning polymer off my countertop with minimal effort but my poor hands had to be scrubbed half to death.  I might try gloves in the future, but I suspect they may stick worse and make the process more difficult.

Timing is everything.  You have to pay attention to what you're doing.  The machine has lights, but really you do a fair amount of work too.  If you want instant gratification and no mess this probably isn't the product for you.

So yes, it works.  I'm a happy camper :)  It isn't mess free or only a 5 minute process.  However, it doesn't take hours either.  Now that I know how to get my negatives to print I imagine that once I had a design ready I could print the negative, cut it, and do everything else to create the stamp in under 20 minutes counting getting everything out and putting it away with full cleanup time.

I hope maybe this review helps some of you that maybe have considered this machine.  Truly I would recommend it, but only if you are willing to deal with a bit of a mess and some effort on your part. 


Mom of 2 Monsters said...

Thank you for this honest and detailed review. I am also on the fence about getting this but haven't heard too many postive reviews. Now I will have to consider getting this.

Audrey Frelx said...

Great job, Amber! I've had mine since it came out and I've only made 2 stamps (whish I did post early last year)!!! It took me almost forever and I had to reorder supplies twice for first tries, but then I got the hang of it. Well, now I'll probably have to start all over again but thanks for the incentive!

Hugs, sweetie!

LindaH said...

I purchased the stampmaker when it was on HSN last month.
I am glad I got have to follow the directions, and maybe find some YouTube videos to watch as well. Just figure a couple sheets of negative film and some polymer packets are going to be sacrificed until you figure out what you are doing.
The whole process if fairly simple, don't let that scare you.
Be sure when you are doing an image, that you do leave some blank space around the edges.
My only real complaint is that the polymer packets are expensive. I wish we could buy them in bulk. They come in a nice DVD type container...but I would be happy to get mine in a dark plastic bag or something. *you need to keep them away from the light*
I'm going to buy some polymer packets each month, for a few months..and then have a day when I crank out a bunch of stamps.
I wish the Polymer packs were larger, the small are kind of small....
Additionally, I wish the software that comes with the kit, had more imaging options so I did not have to use other imaging software.
But I think if you have the Money for the initial kit, and $$ to purchase more negative and poly packs...get it!
Shop around for replacement items...some places you can get free shipping, and that does help!

Marlene said...

Your stamp turned out great!! Thanks for the explanation...I didn't have a clue how those things worked. Not for me, I'm afraid. I hate getting messy! Bleccch.

Margie said...

AWESOME!!!! Don't ya love it when they always make it looks so easy and mess-free in the videos? LOL! You did a fabulous job, Amber!

girlia said...

Thanks for sharing the info. I was going back and forth when I saw it on HSN. The stamp turned out great

Linda Kaiser said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. I am soo considering buying this and thanks to you, I knnow more about it!


Stephanie said...

Amber this was a great review. It looks to me that your stamp worked perfectly. I don't see any uneven spots. In addition, the font you chose is gorgeous!!! So elegant. This was a really great review! Thank you for taking so much time and effort to explain everything so well. :)

Kimberly said...

thanks for sharing, i received one for just to decide what i want to make....many thanks for all the info..