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2015/12/04

Craft review- Teresa Collins Stampmaker

I had written this years ago, but I still wanted to post it. It's a craft machine I had wanted for so long, used lovingly and then got discarded. I wanted to take it up and use again and found this review I had written about it from years ago. With a few adjustments, I decided to still post it because it can be helpful to others whom have (or want) this machine. 


A while back (so a few years back actually) my lovely husband gave me a really wonderful birthday present, the Teresa Collins stamp maker by Imagepac/Photcentric. And what this machine can do? Basically turn any image you have into a clear stamp using photocentric UV light technique! So naturally as stamp carvers, we were really excited to get this machine to see if we could turn our stamp making into the next level. After seeing TC reviews on you tube I knew I wanted it! And I can tell you I was so excited to test it out, as it looked so pretty and sleek and so easy to make stamps with! We ordered this off a Dutch website and after several months of waiting, the machine finally arrived. I was in ready to make some stamps…but first had to pass a few hick ups. 

First being, the machine was not made with an EU compatible plug, you have to buy a plug converter for it. Our machine came from the UK so we didn’t have any problems with the voltage the machine uses, as that is basically the same, so we just had to buy a simple plug for the EU-NL socket. But be aware that if you are in Europe and the machine comes from the USA, you need to buy a whole other convertor to make it work with the electrical system. My poor heatgun that I bought from a vacation in the USA comes to mind. I put in just a simple plug, turned on my heatgun and poof the thing broke instantly huffing a cloud of smoke. So my first tip would be, chose to buy a machine compatible to your country’s electric voltage network. We couldn’t actually choose ours, but by a happy coincidence, it was a UK machine… thankfully! NB: Photocentric now offer the machine with a EURO plug, so problem sloved!

So when the correct plug was fitted, instructions read and understood, an image I wanted scanned and printed… and I was ready to rock that machine! But sadly my first few tries, actually my first 5 tries were a total DUD (yes a whole pack of mini A8 gel packs… wasted!) I was so heart broken! They made it looks so easy on the videos, why in the world couldn’t I get my stamps out right?! I was really doubting my ability to work with the machine! My first stamp was a complete solid block, the second one had a little imprint on it but still solid, the 3 stamps after that did have an outline of the stamp I wanted but still very blobby looking and just didn’t stamp right. I really thought I had done everything to the letter of the instructions! So utterly devastated I was thinking ‘well this isn’t for me, I can’t work with this machine, it’s a waste of money!’ so I put it away and didn’t look at it for a whole month. 
failed stamps
The failed stamps - booo!


My husband, who really encourages me in all my craft endeavors, told me not to give up so quickly, and that it SHOULD work the way it was advertised, so chin up and look for help/support sites to see if you can fix the problem (and I really didn’t like the idea that his gift was starting to collect dust in the closet …). And so I did! I found an excellent support group on yahoo about the TC stamp maker. It was founded by someone who purchased the stampmaker and had some similar issues. There were photocentric/imagepac staff members on that group too for help and advice. And really, if it wasn’t for them, the machine would still be in my closet & not being used!! So extra special thanks to Linda Warholl from photcentric UK who contacted me, helped me with the issues and even sent me replacement gelpacks for the ones I effed up! Top notch customer service!!! 

And now I hear you ask, how did they help me? Well, they made me understand what I did wrong with my first few tries, how I could correct the problem and now I’m using the machine am making kick ass stamps in indeed 15 minutes tops! No no, I assure you, they did not pay me to tell you this ;) So what went wrong with my first few tries? One thing was for certain, that not the whole instruction package was included with my machine. Just one printed sheet with instructions. So that was a bit of a downer to find that out! But I found the whole instructions on the support group, with images to explain. One thing I didn’t do was ‘flash’ the gelpack for 3 counts and you also really have to stick with the timing of it all. The golden tip was that EVERYTHING but the image you wanted to be made a stamp out of needed to be blacked out. So make sure that no light from the sides is filtering through, because that will fill your pack solid. Yes, I had light strips filtering through my first few tries. Also my negative wasn’t printed dark enough (had printer stripes in them) so the UV light shone through and filled the pack solid. 
TC stampmaker stamps
The second try went a whole lot better. The time stamps are the negatives provided with the stampmaker itself. The lady is a drawing from a sheet of  stationery I have. It's The Swirly Girly I based my hand carved stamp on. I scrubbed too hard on her hair and that came off, but the tries after that, you have a feel of how hard you need to scrub.

To avoid further problems like this in the future, I made a checklist for myself and maybe you’ll find it useful as well;

  • Leave a dark aria around your image (at least 1cm) if you use photoshop (your canvas size set to 13 cm by 9 cm but the image must be no bigger than 11 by 8 cm) The imagepac negative printing program (which is on the CD that comes with the machine) already provides this for you. I prefer to print the image straight from photoshop, because the imagepac program sometimes deforms the image to a smaller scale, and sometimes it also pixellates the picture. With photoshop you can work on a higher resolution that can avoid pixellation. 
  • Print your stamp negative set on grayscale, setting on photo and paper choice ‘Epson matte’ for a smooth printed out solid black negatives (for Epson inkjet printer SX100 series) 
  • Make sure no light comes through from the sides between your gelpack and negative sandwich inside the clamp. 
  • Flash the pack for 3 COUNTS not 3 seconds
  • Be exact with timing, so 3 minutes exposure exactly (use a stopwatch/timer on your phone)
  • Wash the gel off with a soapy brush in luke warm water, firm but gently with circling motions. I really, really hate the gel! It sticks, it smells and it’s just so hard to get rid of off your hands. Wear gloves! Use enough liquid soap! Keep scrubbing until all the bits patches of gel are out, but not too hard!
  •  Expose the cleaned image in a tray with water for 2 minutes (non exact exposure is okay in this step but never longer than 3-4 minutes) – the longer you expose in this step the less ‘tacky’ the stamp will be.
  • Gently dry your stamp and cut off the excess around the image.
  • Adhere cling mount on the back and the stamp is ready! The kit provides a stamp handle and cling for that handle, but I prefer to just adhere UM cling mount to my stamps so I can use them on other blocks – not a fan of the big handle of the acrylic block provided... The stamp can be a bit too tacky at first, but like every cling stamp, you have to ‘break them in’ a little. You can also use an eraser and rub gently on the surface of the stamp. Dab it clean with a damp cloth and it should be less tacky. 
And there you have it! After initial trial of error and well… terror, I managed to make some pretty awesome stamps from my own carved and edited images! Some of them are so detailed and have quite fine and delicate lines. And I can indeed make them within 15 minutes! See another in depth review by Rachel Johnson of Swap-Bot here


mail art 365-043 + 044 Carry On My Wayward Son
I made these supernatural themed stamps for this specific themed swap.

Hope you found this review useful!

Thanks for stopping by!

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