Best material for test stamp impressions?

Hi all. I do lots of stampwork, and I often use something claylike to
test out stamp combinations before committing to metal. I’ve used
several clays in the past and am currently trying Silly Putty.
Nothing has ever worked as well as I would like. It occurred to me
that someone in the Orchid ether might have a brilliant suggestion.
Some exotic clay? Some fantastic wax? Some crazy polymer?

There are 3 basic issues:

  1. The crispness of the impression, which only needs to be temporary

  2. Ease with which the material can made to return to a flat state
    for restamping

  3. Visibility. The material must offer enough visual contrast so the
    impressions can be seen clearly. The surface can get dirty!

For years I have housed this material in a shallow wooden box about
3"x7", but would consider any other ideas. As I have often found in
the past, the solution to a materials search can come from some
completely unrelated industry or source. So, come on Orchid, any
great ideas? Thanks!


Hi Alan,

What about sealing wax? I know it gives a really crisp impression
and I think you can remelt it if it’s not stuck to something that it
soaks into-- like if it was melted onto metal. But its not as much
fun to mess around with as Silly Putty…



Try “plasticine”, aka “plasticina”, aka Roman Plasticine. Store in a
plastic bag. Needs to be kneaded for full plasticity, but will take
a good impression, it can be “smeared” smooth or totally re-kneaded.
Not sure how it will store in a wood box mold, but certainly
understand why you want to do that. Mine is gray (I think it comes in
different colors, but gray would definitely simulate silver better
than purple, lets say) in color and I bought it from Jewelry/Resource
Supply in Seattle (who now owns Alpha Supply). Not sure whether they
still have it, as it was part of a workshop I took up there last
June, but I bet they could get it for you, or at least tell you where
to get it. Just a note, cold temps make it smearable, but pretty hard
to move as one unit. Got to knead, knead, knead. It likes 98.6
degrees from the hands.

Good luck! (PSMissed you at Wistaria Festival this year–I “lived”
across the street from you in '08)

Kay Taylor

If your stamp work is ultimately going to be in metal, I suggest
using copper.

Sam Patania

Some exotic clay? Some fantastic wax? Some crazy polymer? 

Cardboard - cereal boxes, the backs of note pads, etc. Clean
impressions, you can push with your hand… Not recyclable in the
way clay is…