Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How To: Stamping!

I recently got some questions about stamping, so here's how I stamp my nails, from start to finish! It's a long post, but I've added some general tips as well. I hope this post will be helpful :)

First things first, materials. These are the things I always have near me when I'm stamping. My placemat, I use this for all my polishing. I can make a big mess and when I'm done, just wipe it all off again. A nail art brush, stamp and scraper, polish remover, cotton pads, a cleanup tool (brush or pen, whatever you prefer) and top coat. And occasionally, some furry company to be in your way and pull funky faces when sniffing your materials ^^
Materials and some Dewey!

Then I pick my colors and plate. I have my stamping polishes on seperate wheels, so I can easy hold them next to my regular wheels to find a nice match. My plates are in a businesscard folder, as you can see all shapes fit in this one.
Today I'm going for the light purple as base and stamp with the darker purple.

I start with the usual, basecoat and base color. I do a cleanup after this, some stamping polishes are heavily pigmented and stain like mad (I'm looking at you, Konad black), and I find that it's easier and faster to clean up after that if your base color is already cleaned up.
If you want, you can use a layer of top coat on your base color. If you now have a bad image transfer, you can quickly wipe it off with a cotton pad with remover. The top coat will be removed as well and your polish won't be shiny anymore, but you won't remove your polish. After you're done stamping you use top coat again anyway to make it all shiny again :) I have a cotton pad with remover ready to go on the side.
Ready for some stamping!

Stamping time! I use a stripe of polish on the top of the image only, the scraper will fill in the rest of the image and this way you'll waste less polish.
I'm not sure why but scraping away from me doesn't work as well for me, scraping towards me really made a difference. So if you have a hard time with it, try scraping in the opposite direction.
I hold the scraper at this angle.

After scraping the image I roll the stamp over the image on the plate, and have a quick look at the stamp to make sure the image is transferred well, then line it up straight next to my nail. I find it easiest to stamp straight on all nails if I line it up like this.
Straight? Go!

Don't press the stamp on your nail but roll it on, from one side to the other, and roll your finger a bit as well. With small images you can sometimes press them, but especially with full nail images rolling works best. Do use some pressure when rolling, so it transfers well on all places. If the image didn't transfer well, it could also be that you were a bit too slow. If you find it hard to do it faster, try a different polish that doesn't dry as fast :)

Usually I do several nails up to an entire hand before I clean my stuff. I do wipe off my stamp on my placemat after every nail. If the image isn't transferred well on your stamp, or your plate is all messy with polish, it's time to clean it. Do make sure that your plate and stamper are dry again, else your image will get smudged. I usually dry them off with a cotton pad and then blow some air on them.

All nails stamped? Time for another cleanup and if needed, fix small errors with a nail art brush. I always end up with polish on the sides of some of my nails, and often I have a polished thumb as well, because my scraper can get a little messy on the bottom :P
Yep, cleanup is needed :)

When you're done stamping, you can add rhinestones, some more color with a dotting tool, etc. When you want to finish your mani with top coat, polish your top coat floating, as in, don't let the brush hit your nails. Else you'll easily smudge the image. Don't be afraid to use a bit more top coat than you usually do to help you with this. I always use Seche Vite, it's quite thick and works perfect for me.
Oooh, shiny! ^^
I used 2 coats of Essence Found My Love and stamped it with China Glaze Harmony and BM plate 211. My indexfinger nail looks a bit bumpy, but I had a little chip this morning that broke off =(

Other tips:

-If you just started with stamping, I'd suggest to go for a more forgiving image (like an animal print or flowers), images with straight lines can be hard to get straight on your nails.

-If you want to practice, you can always do that on an old mani as well, before you take it off.

-If your plate is new, it might have plastic foil on it. Sometimes that can be a bit hard to see, but your plate won't work well with it, so make sure to remove it.

-Give your stamp a gentle filing before you use it for the very first time (you'll only have to do this once). A new stamp is sometimes too smooth to pick up the images well, when the surface is a bit rough, it'll easier pick up the image.

-If you want to mattify your mani, do that after applying normal top coat, else the matte top coat can easily smudge your mani.

-You can also stamp an image with several colors or with a gradient. For the latter, use stripes of polish on your image with some space in between them, then use a toothpick to create a gradient between your colors, or just scrape a few times in a row. After that it's the usual scraping and stamping. You can see more about that here.

-I use the metal scraper, this does damage my plates a bit, so you can also use things like an old creditcard. I somehow keep failing with cards though (scrape polish out the image, or scrape away too little) so I just go for the metal ones instead.

- You can also use a lint roller to clean your stamper in between, all the remains of your image that are on your stamper will stick to the roller and this way you can easily clean your stamper while keeping it dry (originally seen on Wacky Laki). Using normal tape to clean your stamper works too of course!

Check out my full nail image size comparison at my Stamping Plate Sizes page! For tips on how I combine polish and images, please have a look at my How To: Mix and match for stamping and my Stamping Polish page. Thanks for looking!


  1. i love you!!
    you are so kind and nice!!
    i got it,
    will try to search
    where can buy it......
    thank you very much!!!!!

  2. Great tutorial! I'm definitely going to try to scrape in the opposite direction to see if it makes any difference for me. Thanks :D


  3. You are totally the stamping queen, so a tutorial from you is like gold! x

  4. thank you for this post! now im inspired to try again! i might be too slow.. sigh :(

  5. Thank you for this very detailed tutorial! I tried stamping once or twice and it didn't turn out that pretty so I haven't used my kit in a while. But I've always wanted to try these whole nail stamps... Think I will try again following your tutorial :D

  6. Great tips! and I love picture tutorials!

  7. I like your idea of just striping the polish on instead of painting the whole image like I do it. Also I cleaned the plate for each nail. Next time I'll do it your way just keep it moving. Lol! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Oh one more question: Where did you get your placemat?

  9. @Joelyn, thanks, and you're welcome! I hope it's all a bit more clear now :) I buy the materials often online, if you google for Konad plates for example, you'll find plenty of online stores that sell them!

    @Elize, thank you :) I hope it helps, for me scraping in a different direction was like a lightbulb moment, lol.

    @The Nail Buff, *blush* thanks girl <3

    @Jamie K., that's so nice to hear, and I hope you'll manage! Keep practicing though, I found it hard at first but once you get the hang of it, it goes easier with every mani that you do!

    @Drissing, thank you! :)

    @Sabine, yay I'm glad you liked it! You can also practice on your nails before you take your old mani off, until it goes well enough that you like the result more! :) Good luck ^^

    @Elizabeth, thanks! Making some pictures was a bit challenging though, lacked hands, lol.

    @rmcandlelight (nailsbeautiqued), for me it's so much faster if I just keep going! It goes fine as long as you check the stamp before using it on your nail, to make sure the image transferred well :) My placemat came from a Dutch store called Blokker, but I guess most department stores have them (Hema, Ikea, ...), or else a piece of plastic tablecloth could work too I guess!

  10. Amazing post! The pictures are just perfect.

  11. Awesome tutorial! I usually suck at stamping, but now I'm excited to give it another go using your tips :)

  12. it looks easy but i coudn't. i'll try again:))

  13. Thank U so much for this,now I will try again stamping my nails ;))

  14. this is an awesome post well done :) i will be using it soon

    shel xx

  15. Great post, thanks for all the tips! :)
    What a great idea to have stamping polishes on a different wheel and you are so organized with your plates, I try to keep mine in order but they always end up all over the place :P

  16. You are phenomenal at stamping! I just got my stamper in the mail and a few stamping plates about a week ago and I keep trying to stamp but it's very difficult. You gave me inspiration to keep trying. You do it so perfectly! Your stamp choices are amazing. I think I might be using bad polish to stamp with.

  17. Thank you! I hope it'll help and that you get the hang of it soon :)

  18. Do that! With some practice I'm sure you'll manage as well, it's not always easy at first :)

  19. Yay you're welcome! Good luck and ty for commenting :)

  20. Thanks Susy! That different wheel idea just hit me the other day :) Am loving it like that! And loving my plate folder as well, works like a charm! Without that, I'd probably be searching a lot for the right plate, and every now and then find some that I didn't even remember I had, haha.

  21. Aww thank you so much! Keep practicing, it'll feel awesome when you manage :) I found it hard as well and felt like giving up a few times, but I'm glad I didn't, sooner or later it gets fast and easy to do! And the stamping polish can make quite a difference as well, if you practice it doesn't have to cover as well yet, as long as it has the right thickness and doesn't dry too fast. Good luck ♥

  22. Wow, your work looks so good! And I keep seeing Bundle Monster designs that are stunning! Where do you purchase your BM plates? Thank you,

  23. Thanks Linda! I bought my BM plates from amazon.com, they sell both sets. The old set's full nail images are smaller though, the full nail images from the new set are the same size as Konad's.
    Hope that helps! =)

  24. I have a konad plate and the image doesn't fit across my whole nail. Why is this and how can I fix it?!

  25. Not all images are full nail images (rectangle shape), Konad also has quite a few plates without any full nail image, but just smaller accent images instead.
    If your plate does have a full nail image, and it doesn't fit, then your nails are too long. There are some other brands that have extra big images in that case :)

  26. i like the way to polish the nail.

  27. Nice - I just got the konad stamper and was struggling with making the transfer onto the stamper...will try filing it.

  28. No matter what I try, my stampings never turn out the way yours do. I manage either the top or the bottom of the nails just fine, but the curve of my nails prevents me from getting the stamping evenly on the whole nail. Most of the time I end up with a good stamping on the top of tha nail near the bed, but the bottom half is "emty" and the color still on the stamp. How do I get the stamping on the whole nail? I wish i had your nails, they look perfect.

  29. Hi Anna, are you rolling your stamp from one side to the other instead of just pushing it on? I roll the stamp, and at the same time I gently roll my finger along in the opposite direction, if that makes sense. So if I start with the stamp on the right side of my nail, I roll the stamp to the left, while rolling my finger to the right.
    If you have more curves in your nails, I'd try to give the stamp a bit more pressure when rolling it on. If your nails are curving down a bit (oh how to explain, haha, hope you can still follow me!), try to put more pressure on that part of your stamp as you roll, but I guess that makes it all a little bit harder and takes some more practice.
    Hope this helps and that you'll manage soon! :)

  30. Hi Bregje! Thank you for your answer. I roll the stamp from right to left and do the finger thing in the opposite direction as well. With curve I meant the vertical curve from lunula (or halfmoon) to tip, not side to side. From side to side it looks great, but the tips or rather the bottom halves of my nails don't get any stampy-goodness at all. I try a circular motion with the stamp now and it is getting better, but I still envy your perfect stampings...I guess I need to practice, practice, practice ! I wish I had more nails...stamping is fun, but quite a hassle, especially if they don´t turn out well and I have to do them over and over again.

  31. Bregje, a great post, I have finally got myself some stamping equipment, going to have so much fun.

  32. Yeah. That is my idea, but my top coat is not as shiny as was. I can see the pattern when the light hits my nails.
    The accent nail was done with nail art strips (covering the shinny top coat, placed randomly) and the matte top coat. The lines are really shiny and I was expecting a similar result with the stamp but is not (maybe the stamping process dulls the top coat a bit).
    I will continue trying. Thanks for your comment!

  33. Hi Pab, glad to hear you liked the tutorial! :)
    I've stamped with top coat before, here's how that looked:
    I also went with matte first, stamping with shiny for that reason, but it also required a different top coat than my usual. Seche Vite is thick and shiny, but dried way too fast! The one that I used was less shiny and more thin, which worked better, but as you can see it's not crazy shiny either. It does remind me I'll have to try that again some day, there must be another top coat that works better :)

  34. I love the tutorial.
    I always stamped small images until now ;)
    Have toy try to stamp with a clear top coat?
    I just got my Cheeky Vibrant collection plates and wanted to try a matte base and the design with a shinny top coat. The matte top coat dries too quickly, so I have to keep the polishes in that order, but the shinny top coat does not look that shinny now, so there is not that much contrast between the two polishes.

  35. Can any nail polish be used on the plate? Or does it have to be a special stamping nail polish from Konad?

  36. Klean colors metallics also stamp pretty well


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