This section will provide some helpful tips on picking papers and using them in your stamping projects.


To help you determine what paper you would like to stamp on, first consider your project. Certain papers are more suited to specific techniques like watercoloring or brayering. Other papers don't take specific inks well or may need to be embossed when those inks are used on them.

Matte Paper

This type of paper or card stock is one with a porous surface. For this reason, when stamping on certain matte finish papers, your image will look sort of "faded". This is because of the rough texture on the paper. The stamp surface cannot get fully flush with the entire surface area of the paper, so there are miniscule little holes or indents in the paper that don't get inked. Some matte finish paper can be quite smooth, however. Look at the surface of the paper you want to purchase for stamping, and run your hand across it. The smoother the better, as far as getting a complete and well-inked image to show up. But you don't want your matte paper to have a coating of any kind on it. If it does, you will not be able to use it well with pigment inks, or for watercoloring.

To make sure your matte paper is suited for watercolor, try stamping an image in a waterproof ink, then watercolor in the detail. Many times, for watercolor, you need a rougher paper to take in the water without buckling, or having pieces of paper ball up under your brush or blender pen. I personally use one type of rather porous matte paper specifically for watercoloring, and another very smooth one when I want a matte finish, but will not be watercoloring.

Glossy Paper

Glossy paper, or card stock, is coated. It has a slick or semi-gloss finish. This coating can help with certain stamping techniques. When using water-based dye ink pads, the image dries very quickly on glossy because it "stains" the paper. However, when you touch a wet (inked) stamp to a glossy surface, it tends to want to slide! Once you get the feel of it, you should be able to stamp straight down and lift back up without sliding your stamp. Also take care to hold your card down when lifting up your stamp, as there is a vacuum of sorts created when you press a wet stamp onto a slick surface. This is because the paper's pores are all sealed and the stamp meets flush with the entire surface of the paper. Stamping on glossy paper gives the ink brilliance, and you end up with a creation that looks as shiny as a magazine cover.

One thing that looks quite nice on glossy card stock is brayering. Again, you will want to use a water-based dye ink pad. Rainbow pads are great for this look, but you can brayer a single color also. Because of the coating on the glossy card stock, you can blend the color into the card stock fairly evenly with a rubber brayer. You cannot do this on the matte finish paper.

Another thing that glossy card stock is useful for is embossing. When you use a *pigment* ink instead of a dye ink on the glossy paper, it tends not to dry. But for an embossed image, this is great! The image you stamp will stay wet for so long that you can take your time getting it covered with embossing powder. When embossing on matte finish paper, however, you really need to rush to make sure you get that powder on before any of the ink gets soaked up.

Yet another advantage to glossy paper is being able to color in an image with markers. The markers do not bleed as they do on matte finish paper. Just be sure to use an ink for the outline of the image that is waterproof--to prevent smearing of the image with markers while coloring.

One final note on glossy paper limitations is that you can't watercolor or chalk on the glossy paper with much success. Both these techniques require a rougher surface to accept their media.

Patterned Paper

Patterned papers come in many finishes and thicknesses. The main benefit of a patterned paper, is to enhance your hand-crafted item, without exerting the labor it would take to create a full-colored background by hand. My favorite patterned papers coordinate with the images in my stamp sets, as well as the ink and paper colors in the product line I use. An added feature of patterned paper, is the double-sided aspect. These papers have a different, coordinating, pattern on the reverse side. Double-sided patterned paper can help you create a colorful, coordinating layout, with just a few simple folds!


Vellum is a lightweight coated paper, available in two distinctive weights. Most papers referred to as "vellum" are a very thin paper, and very translucent. This vellum is commonly used as an overlay, where it mutes the design below, and gives a softening effect. Embossing on vellum in a metallic tone such as gold or silver, then coloring the details of the image in on the underside with a marker, creates elegant results. To showcase this subtle work, the vellum is usually mounted over a white background piece. Because the vellum is translucent, most adhesives are visible through it. Paper crafters will commonly position another layer of card stock or paper over the areas they adhere, or they will adhere the vellum to the main piece with eyelets, brads, or ribbon.

A thicker vellum counterpart, commonly referred to as "vellum card stock" is also available. It is not as translucent as the paper, though adhesives can still be seen through it. One feature that vellum card stock offers over the paper, is the ability to dry emboss a design on it. Vellum card stock is a slightly off-white color, but areas which are dry embossed will be bright white. This is a very elegant and unique look.

Mulberry Paper

Mulberry paper is an uncoated, fibrous, "handmade" paper. It's not actually made from paper pulp, but instead from mulberry fibers (hence, the name). I believe most of these papers are imported, which probably explains why they tend to be much more pricey than regular paper and card stock. A distinctive feature of mulberry paper is the frayed look you get when tearing it. Don't use scissors to cut your mulberry paper, instead, wet a paintbrush with water and paint lines where you want to tear away the mulberry. Pull the mulberry away while the lines are wet.

Mulberry paper is mainly used as a layer of embellishment. Because it is so porous, stamping on the surface doesn't produce striking results. However, embossing on it in metallics is another way of achieving an elegant look for your handcrafted pieces. If you want to make your own "faux" mulberry paper, you can rinse out used dryer sheets, and even color them with a drop or two from a waterbased reinker and a bit of white vinegar (to set the color). Let the sheets dry, then use them as you would the real thing!