This section will include a description of the different types of markers used in rubber stamping, and explain some markering techniques.


There are many ways you can incorporate marker usage into your stamping. If you are just experimenting, a basic children's set of waterbased markers will do. Markers can be used directly on a stamp to color specific areas before stamping the image down on paper, or they can be used to color in the outlines of an already stamped image--just as you would in a coloring book. Markers are also useful for making interesting background patterns by drawing lines or transferring colors to your paper from a brayer. (Brayers are another big separate subject.) Here is a quick look at some of the types of markers used in conjunction with stamping:


Brush Art Markers can be found at most arts and crafts stores. They are waterbased and can come with one marking tip or two. The markers with two tips are commonly referred to as "Dual Tip" markers, with one end providing broad coverage for general usage such as inking up a stamp, and another smaller end for coloring in tight spots of outline images or for hand-lettering. One marketing trick for a common brand of brush art markers is to have one very large tip, suggesting that the ink coverage is more broad and that the ink will last longer than a marker with a smaller circumference. This is not necessarily true. Some of the larger tipped markers have "rounded sides" that prevent some of the surface area of the tip from making contact. Plus, since the tips are larger, that leaves more area exposed to air when the markers are open and also inside their caps when they are closed. This can shorten the life of the marker immensely. If you are interested in purchasing art markers, test the surface area of the brush tip and check that the lids are tight and that they do not allow a lot of "air space" when covering the marker.

Another value for the stamper is the reinking possibilities for your markers. Sometimes the ends of the markers may be removed, or the tips can be pulled out with needle nosed pliers. Since the markers are waterbased, you can add a few drops of water inside the pen and replace the end or tip. This may temporarily extend the life of your markers. One more tip for reinking markers is to buy a brand of markers with coordinating ink pad colors that have reinkers available. You can reink your markers with a few drops of the coordinating ink in the same way you would add water, or there is another method if you can't get to the inside of your marker...when the marker gets dry, take the coordinating ink refill and place a few drops in the bottom of a tall glass. Take the cap off your marker and set the tip down in the small puddle of ink and the marker should absorb some of the ink back up into the tip. Another maintenance tip for markers is to have a pair of tweezers handy to pull off any "fuzzies" your markers may be shedding from the tips.

As a final warning, I must also caution you that many of the cheaper markers you can buy leave ink on the barrel from the lid. This ink saturates your fingers where they touch the barrel, and then the stamping law seems to be that it will inevitably transfer to your stamping surface--leaving fingerprints or smudges! You can buy markers that have a break in the barrel just before the tip, therefore preventing the lid of the marker from overlapping the barrel and spreading ink all over it. These will cost you a little bit more perhaps, but when you are stamping that last minute card on the way out the door to a party, you won't have inky fingers attesting to your procrastination!


By using markers to ink up your stamps, you have the luxury of choosing multiple colors to ink up your image. Also, when using markers you can actually add to the images you have in your rubber stamp collection by choosing which parts of a stamp you want to ink up, and leaving some parts uninked, or 'omitted'. For example, if you have a large stamp that says "Happy Birthday!" and underneath the saying there are balloons, a cake and a have potential for 4 separate images from one stamp! When purchasing stamps, it may be a good idea to keep this functionality in mind and check to see how many images on a stamp are separated well enough from the others to be inked up alone. On a very detailed stamp, inking up selective parts tends to be a bit more difficult and time consuming. Many stamps made of bold (solid) images have space between parts of the image, making it easier to omit or to ink up in a different color.

So, to actually stamp with your markers, you will color the rubber image as you would like it stamped--omitting where you like, putting different colors where you would like them. Now, after you take the time to do this, the ink on your stamp may be a bit dry. Just like when stamping with dye ink pads, you will want to "huff" on your inked up image. By exhaling on the rubber, the warm moist air will reactivate the ink and help more of it to come off onto your paper, leaving a brighter image. If you are stamping on glossy paper, there is an added benefit you can enjoy. Once you have stamped one marker-colored image down on glossy paper, you can exhale liberally on the rubber once again and stamp down--to get a second image from all your coloring efforts! This second image is usually a little lighter than the first, but with some practice, you can determine how firm to press down your stamp the first time in order to leave enough ink to get a second image that is almost as dark as the first.Bold or solid image stamps are more difficult to attain equality the second time around than the open line image stamps.

In addition to choosing separate colors for separate areas of your image, you can also blend colors with markers to get a rainbow effect. Let's say you have a solid image of a heart that you wanted to give a pastel rainbow look to. Pick the colors you want to include, then in the order you want them, color across the stamp. I could start with a red, then go to orange, then yellow, green, blue and violet. Looking at a stamp inked up like this, you may see that the lines of color are too harshly and distinctly separated. To give it a more natural and softer look, you can blend the colors where they meet. To do this, consider two colors that are touching and pick the lighter one. Take the marker for the lighter color and marker over the line where they come in contact. This lighter marker will pull some of the darker color onto it and mix it with the lighter color, giving the look of gradual change between the two colors. Now your lighter marker will have some dark color on the tip. Take a paper towel and roll the marker tip onto it, and the paper towel should pull more ink out of the pen and it will quickly return to marking in its true color. (In some cases the tip may still look darker, but the marker will still write in the appropriate color.) This works best with real brush art markers, as opposed to children's markers.


You may think this is a little too simplistic to include in this section, but there are actually a few important pointers I would like to share. Coloring in a stamped image may at first glance seem no more difficult than decorating a page in a coloring book. However, you need to take into account the paper and ink that has been used to stamp the image. To keep the outline color of the image from bleeding when you color the image in with markers, you may want to use a Watercolor or Outline Ink Pad. (Discussed more thoroughly under Into to Inkpads.) These are easiest to find in black, but there are other colors on the market also. Once an image has been stamped with this special kind of ink pad and has dried, you should have no problem with bleeding if your marker accidentally comes in contact with the outline. Another option would be to emboss your image. (Check out the Empowered Embossing link for more info.)

The paper factor is important also. If you are coloring in an image on a matte finish or absorbent paper, the fibers may pull more ink out of the marker, causing it to bleed into areas you didn't want it to. Also, the absorbent paper gets saturated very easily and even a mild application of color can appear very dark. It's best to take a scrap piece of the paper you intend to use and test the results first. Another minor note, do not use children's 'washable' markers to stamp or color in an image on glossy paper. They do not dry on the glossy surface--the ink will smear EVERYWHERE.


Optimum storage of markers depends on a few factors, including the type of marker, and also the age. For markers that have only one tip, you will first have to determine how "wet" they are. Some brush art markers are so full of ink that they will actually drip or seep. These markers are best stored in a cup or container with the brush tip pointing up. Once these wet markers have aged a bit, you can store them with the tip pointing down so that the ink will keep the tip saturated longer. For dual tip pens, I suggest storing them so that they may lie horizontally. This way both ends have a fair chance with the ink flow.


There are a few more types of markers on the market that are used by stampers. Many are not for use directly on a stamp, but there is now at least one line of markers with metallic colors that may be used not only to color in a stamped image, but also to ink up a stamp! Remember to check the label to be sure of the marker's proper uses. You do NOT want to use permanent markers on your stamps. Stampers can also embellish cards with water-based calligraphy and scroll-tip markers.