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.