Journaling with Clear Stamps

As I’ve mentioned earlier this year, I am doing a very slack, modified bullet journal system that combines a lot of the elements of a commonplace book and a log book as well as the standard to-do lists. It’s not the prettiest (i.e. Instagram-worthy) planner system but I like it and it works for me.

As we move into the last half of the year, my daily bullet journaling has been a bit more sporadic. I’ve skipped more than one day in a row and I wanted to inspire myself to get back into regularly writing the daily ebbs and flows of my days.

So, I decided to purchase a few sets of stamps in hopes that doing a little pretty-ing of my journal/planner might help inspire me to be more active with it. I could have gotten more brush pens or stickers or other methods for embellishment but I decided to start with stamps and go from there.

I found an assortment of fun and interesting clear stamps on JetPens that I decided to try.

I started with three sets of MU My Icon “Splice Stamp” clear stamps ($4.40 per set). I purchased the Moon Phase Set (Lunar Phases), a Wildflower set (Flowers – B) and a Frame Set (Large Frames -A). There were 16 different sets available on JetPens and they were all pretty so it was hard to pick just three.

I also bought the BGM Ink & Pain Clear Stamp set (no longer in stock!). I didn’t realize when I bought it that it would be out of stock so I apologize for (potentially) tempting you with a product that is not available. I thought it was cute and I wanted to see how someone else did an ink bottle stamp. The large ink spots and spills are not particularly useful to me — I can make a mess all on my own, thankyouveddymuch. But I thought the paint tube and star chart was cute.

In better news, I also got the BGM Cat To-Do Clear Stamp Set ($10.25). The largest stamp in the Cat To-Do sheet is the “checklist” stamp that measures approximately 2.5″ x 1.5″. There is one stamp with Japanese writing (according to Google Translate it says YEAR/MONTH/DAY with a bit of space between each word to fill in your current info) but the others are written in English. The stamp in the lower right corner looks like a cat sitting on a lunch bag which is perfect for adding in info about what you had for lunch or if you like to meal plan.

The final set of clear stamps I found on Etsy and was so charmed by the little tarot symbols that I had to buy it. This set came from Writual Planner Shop and sells for $45. Its a bit pricey but it is the only stamp set I’ve seen like this so I purchased it. I’ve been learning to read tarot and I thought the stamps would be a fun way to keep tracking of the cards I pull each day. The set includes the full Major Arcana and a stamp for cups, wands, swords and pentacles so I just have to write the number next those for the full deck. Really, the set was so stinkin’ cute it was hard to resist. The tarot stamps came with a small acrylic block and a free teeny stamp pad which was nice to have included!

Acrylic Blocks:

If you’re unfamiliar with using clear stamps, you need to adhere them to a firm surface in order to use them. Many makers of clear stamps recommend clear acrylic blocks. The advantage is that you can see where you are placing the stamp so you can be a bit more accurate in aligning the stamp to the rest of the content on your page. I have, over the years, acquired an array of different sized acrylic blocks. Some have printed guidelines on them, round corners, one even has a hole to attach the block to a keychain.

While purchasing the clear stamps on JetPens, I found this set of MU round acrylic pegs ($4.90 for the set of 2). The set include one peg that is 2.3cm in diameter and one that is 1.8cm in diameter. Since I purchased a couple sets of stamps that were quite small, I thought this would be a great addition to my acrylic block collection.

The pegs are long enough to be easy to maneuver at 2.5cm tall. They are also kind of cool to look at — these little pillars of clear acrylic.

The smallest of the clear stamps that I purchased fit neatly on the end of the peg. I kind of want to find more tiny stamps to use these cool little pegs.

I have heard that some folks just stick the stamp to the clear lid from their stamp pad which I think is supremely clever and cuts down on buying a lot of extra stuff. The Ranger Archival Stamp Pads ($7 and up) I sell in my shop do not have clear lids so I think I’ll stick to using the clear blocks for the time being. If I switch to less permanent stamp pads (most of the water-based pads have clear lids) I will have less to carry in my kit.

Using the Stamps:

I tested the stamps on both Tomoe River and my daily bullet journal notebook, a Paperblanks 120gsm notebook.  I wanted to see how the stamps and ink pads performed on both papers as they are the papers I use most frequently. Dry time was pretty reasonable for the Ranger pads on the Tomoe which was a surprise.

When using clear stamps, there is less need to press hard to make an image. In fact, the lighter the touch the better because the material is much squishier than the traditional woodblock stamps. If I pressed too hard on the stamp pad or on the paper, the line widths of the artwork would get a little wider than needed.

On the Paperblanks paper, I added my dates for the coming week and layered the stamps a little bit. It took about 15 minutes to test drive the stamps and then combine into a little collages for each page. I love the cat doing the splits. He looks so stoic. The large frames stamps are perfect for my date on each page. The frames just elevated my dates a little bit. I may start adding color with pencils or brush pens to make my little dates pop a bit more.

Final Observations:

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my stamp purchases. I don’t think it’s a big deal that the Ink & Paint set is sold out because there were only a couple stamps on the whole sheet that I liked. Suffice to say, you’re not missing anything there. I love the MU My Icon “Splice Stamp” clear stamps. The lines were delicate and the designs were beautiful. I will definitely be picking up a few more sets of those. I realize that the tarot stamps are probably a bit specific to my interests but maybe it will inspire you to looks for stamps you could use in your own planner/journal that relate (fitness trackers, books, film, music, etc).

Let me know if you are looking for any themed stamps or what hobby you are into these days.

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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