Most crafters who use digital stamps print their images on regular white paper to work with. Your image can only be printed on what runs through a printer, but there are many other alternatives to plain paper. Let me share some ideas that will enable you to make the most out of your digital stamp collection.
A note about printing digital stamps: it is always best to use a laser printer or standard copy machine. This is because the ink is heat set onto the paper in the process of printing. By contrast, ink jet printers spray ink onto the paper and the method can sometimes cause your image to smear when colored or exposed to water. If you only have an ink jet printer, try heat setting your image with a heat tool before working with it. Now onto the alternative surfaces to print on…
Colored or Patterned Paper
The most common use of digital stamps is to print for coloring. However, you might want to paper piecing instead. Print your images on colored or patterned paper, then cut out all the pieces of the image to collage back together with different patterns. This is a great technique that adds a lot of texture to your work.
For those who love a soft, watercolor look, try loading your printer with watercolor paper. Often it helps to feed each individual sheet into the printer and check your settings to accommodate the thickness of the paper. You will be able to paint your digital image with traditional watercolor paints and create beautiful works of art.
Did you know that canvas paper exists specifically for your home printers? When looking for printer paper, check out the specialty section for other types of papers that are made specifically for use in home printers. You should easily find canvas paper that will give your images a fine art texture. This will enable you to actually paint your digital images if you choose or use other traditional coloring materials.
Transparencies, Vellum, or Sticker Paper
While browsing the specialty paper section, you might even find materials such as transparencies, vellum and sticker paper to use. These are great alternative surface types to try out with your digital images. Imagine the possibilities when you are able to create stickers of images or see-through versions for a special design.
Although you can also buy special printable fabrics that can run through a printer, a homemade idea is to glue fabric onto sheets of paper. In this way, you will be able to run it through your printer. You will need to test out settings, in order to find the right balance of ink for the specific fabric used, but it's a great project to try out, bringing your stamping into sewing projects.
Printing for Transfers
A workaround for getting your digital image onto a non-flat item is to print the image for transfer. This means you print your image onto store-bought transfer paper, iron-on transfer paper or regular paper to be transferred onto the final surface using artistic transfer techniques. There are many different techniques out there to experiment with, so it all depends on your preference, but it is possible. You could, for example, print your imagery onto thin paper to be transferred onto candles for home decor. A bit of experimentation will open up a whole new world for your digital stamping and crafting.
As printing technology evolves and more materials become accessible, the world of digital stamping will only grow more exciting and versatile. Try some of these alternative surfaces for yourself and see what you can make out of it. You'll soon find many new ways to make use of your digital stamps.