First things first: no, we aren’t talking about postage. Stamps and ink pads are great creative tools for any level of artistic skill as well as organizational aids that fit right into planner spreads. Our stamp selection ranges from clear stamps to pre-inked stamps and self-inking stamps, and all our picks are durable and useful for years to come. Read on for a full overview of our favorite stamps, plus helpful tips on inking and cleaning.
- Types of Stamps
- The Best Clear Stamps
- The Best Mounted Rubber Stamps
- The Best Inked Stamps
- The Best Ink Pads
- Inking Tips for Classic Stamps
- Cleaning a Stamp
- Other Resources
- How We Approach Research and Testing
Pre-inked stamps contain liquid ink that flows through only the lines of their designs. You can think of them as ink pads in very specific shapes. Self-inking stamps, meanwhile, use a built-in ink pad to mechanically ink themselves with each press.
Both kinds of inked stamps are convenient, requiring no separate ink pads or cleanup. However, you can’t use any ink but the ink chosen by the manufacturer, and you may have to deal with your stamp drying out and requiring re-inking in the future.
Inked stamps are often more useful in a planner, or anywhere convenience takes priority over creative flair. But that’s not to say creativity is off the table: the marks of most inked stamps can be filled in with markers for a pop of color. Inked stamps that use alcohol-based inks2 are fantastic with water-based markers but will bleed faintly with alcohol-based markers like Copics.
BGM stamp sets do not include acrylic blocks. This means you won’t have redundant blocks piling up, but don’t forget to add one to your first purchase. BGM acrylic blocks are thick with curved edges that make them easy to hold. We recommend the larger size so you don’t have trouble using the biggest stamps.
These large stamps can be inked with smaller ink pads by following our inking tips.
You’ll likely get the most use out of this stamp if you ink the sayings and the date separately. To that end, a small Versafine pad will work best. However, even a large ink pad will work if you strategically hang part of the stamp off the edge.
Be careful when cleaning the plastic Combination Stamps. Some stamp cleaners will smear the printed designs on top. We recommend using only gentler inks, like the Sanby ink pad, and avoiding multi-surface inks like the Tsukineko StazOn, so stronger cleaners aren't necessary.
The internal ink pad may dry out quickly, which can be slowed by removing and capping it between uses. Inserting and removing the ink pad takes a little more force than you might expect. Don’t worry, you won’t break it, but make sure the tiny grooves are correctly lined up.
If you don’t want to keep your lists hidden away in your planner, Midori offers compatible sticky notes in a perfectly-matched size. Move them to wherever you’ll be best reminded.
An Iconic Diary Stamp's chunky shape is easy to hold and hard to lose. A little practice is necessary for consistent results—what helped us was pausing for a second before lifting the stamp. Their ink holds up well to coloring with water-based markers. Use them to mark special memories in your planner.
Just like other inks, ink pads have a wide variety of strengths. Our selection of ink pads are largely manufactured by the brand Tsukineko, which created the first water-based pigment ink pad in 1982. They’ve only kept innovating since then. Read on for a breakdown of our ink pad selection.
We tested these ink pads on cardstock and Rhodia paper, which is less absorbent than regular copy paper. All photos on dot grid paper are from Rhodia testing. On copy paper, inks will dry more quickly and show through slightly more.
Our tests on Rhodia of ink performance under water- and alcohol-based markers did not smear, with the exception of minute smearing from the Tsukineko VersaCraft under Copics. However, our tests on cardstock smeared under alcohol-based markers for all inks except Tsukineko StazOn Metallic. Tsukineko VersaCraft and VersaMagic also smeared under water-based ink on cardstock. Always test your particular combination of paper and inks before executing your project.
|Stamp||Sample||Showthrough||Opacity||Detail||Dry Time (seconds)|
|Sanby x Eric Small Things Stamp Pad||N/A||5|
|Tsukineko StazOn Metallic Ink Pads||5|
|Tsukineko StazOn Midi Size Ink Pads||2|
|Tsukineko VersaCraft Soramame Ink Pads||10|
|Tsukineko Versafine Ink Pads||5|
|Tsukineko VersaMagic Dew Drop Ink Pads||5|
Sometimes dye inks can bead up on brand new clear rubber stamps, causing uneven stamping. Head this off at the pass by rubbing a new clear stamp with a clean microfiber cloth until it goes from crystal clear to cloudy. "Priming" your stamp like this should fix the issue.As we’ve mentioned, you can try inking a stamp with markers for more detailed multicolor effects. This is most effective on rubber stamps, but we’ve tried it on small clear stamps with decent results. We recommend water-based markers like Tombow Dual Brush pens. Alcohol-based markers give patchier results and are harder to clean off your stamp.
Some more stubborn inks like metallics may call for additional stamp cleaner. All inks will be harder to clean if you let them fully dry on the stamp, so it’s better to strike while the iron is hot, or the stamp is damp, as it were.
If ink is really stuck in there, soothe yourself with the thought that it won’t get out and affect your future projects. Stained and discolored stamps won’t transfer any color; they just have a little more character.
Our writers draw on their personal expertise, consult our in-house subject matter experts, and do extensive research to make our guides as accurate and comprehensive as possible. We then test every finding that makes it through the research stage. Only the techniques and tools whose performance we personally confirm make it into our guides as recommendations.
Stamps and ink pads are invaluable tools for artists and planning enthusiasts alike. Let us know your favorite use for stamps in the comments below!
|Ink Pad||Colors||Ink Properties||Ink Composition|
|Sanby x Eric Small Things Stamp Pad||Black||Water-Resistant||Pigment-Based, Oil-Based|
|Tsukineko StazOn Metallic Ink Pads||Gold, Silver, Copper||Opaque, Metallic, Multi-Surface||Pigment-Based, Alcohol-Based|
|Tsukineko StazOn Midi Size Ink Pads||Black, Red, Brown, Orange, Green, Blue, Purple Gray||Multi-Surface, Quick-Drying||Dye-Based, Solvent-Based|
|Tsukineko VersaCraft Soramame Ink Pads||Pink, Red, Brown, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Gray, White||Multi-Surface, Good for Detail||Pigment-Based, Water-Based|
|Tsukineko Versafine Ink Pads||Black, Red, Brown, Orange, Green, Turquoise, Blue, Purple, Gray||Quick-Drying, Vivid||Pigment-Based, Oil-Based|
|Tsukineko VersaMagic Dew Drop Ink Pads||Black, Pink, Red, Brown, Orange, Yellow, Green, Turquoise, Blue, Purple, White||Multi-Surface, Semi-Opaque||Pigment-Based, Water-Based|
1 Clear stamps can also be used with stamp presses or stamp positioning tools. If you try some and love them, look into more advanced accessories. ↩
- 2 Most of these stamps are labeled as containing “oil-based ink,” but when discussing inks, oil-based, alcohol-based, and solvent-based are interchangeable terms. ↩
- 3 For precision with opaque stamps, you can buy or build stamp alignment tools, which consist of essentially a right angle with a clear plastic sheet tucked into it. Stamp once on the clear sheet, line everything up as you like, then remove the sheet and stamp again. ↩
- 4 FriXion ink disappears with the heat generated by friction and may reappear in cold conditions. ↩