I get questions from time to time about which stamping tools and such I recommend. So, I thought I'd take you on a little journey through what I use, and why I like what I like.
First up, here is a group picture of everything in my basic kit. It contains everything you need to begin stamping, other than the stamping plate and the polish. In fact, you can probably get away with even less than this, but this is what I consider the minimum. Note that I did not clean things up at all, because this is what they end up looking like when I'm done using them for a manicure--I don't want you to think that if you get polish all over your tools that it means you're doing something wrong! You're not!
Here are my basics, and I'll show you a close up of each below. In a rough circle from left to right it shows a Konad scraper; acetone in a pump bottle (originally filled with Zoya Remove+); a cheap make-up brush; a bottle of Seche Vite; a Konad stamper; a cotton pad; and underneath it all, a napkin.
Okay, let's break it down a little more. :)
1) A napkin/paper towel:
|Napkin I use as the base under my stamping plate|
You may have seen the little plate holders that some companies sell that hold your plates in place while you scrape and stamp them; a lot of beginning stampers think these are necessary for stamping. They are not! Not only have these not ever worked for me, I find it nearly impossible to stamp well when I use them. They create an incredible mess--when I scrape on them, the polish just goes down into the edges, and causes a stutter in my scrape. Plus, I still need somewhere to wipe off my scraper before I set it down, or it will get polish everywhere. And I can never get a controlled scrape on them, anyway.
2) Speaking of scrapers, I am a die-hard fan of the standard Konad metallic scraper. I find that it makes really good contact with the metal plates, and allows me to feel when I'm getting a good scrape:
Yes, it's true, this scraper will leave cosmetic scrapes on your metal plates. However, it won't damage them, and for me, the superior control I get with the metal-on-metal works best for most plate types.
3) Stamper: Again I prefer the standard Konad stamper for most things:
With respect to non-specialty stampers, I like the Konad the best. I prefer the surface tension on it over other stampers--it has a little give, it isn't too hard, but not too soft either, so I don't have to worry about either smudging or incomplete images.
There are specialty stampers I use in special cases. There are times when I prefer the large squishy stampers, particularly if there is a design like a french image that I need a special type of control over. And, I just got a set of rectangular stampers that allow you to get full rectangular images in case the round end of the stamper doesn't allow you to get the edges of your design completely (I haven't tried these yet, however). But for the most part, this stamper does 95% of my stamping effectively and well.
4) A pump-action bottle of acetone. This one originally came filled with Zoya Remove+ and I refill it with acetone, but you can find similar empty bottles:
I am a clumsy person, and this bottle has saved my life so many times, I can't begin to explain it to you. If I have a normal bottle of remover or acetone, the question isn't if I'll spill it, it's when I'll spill it and what I'll destroy in the process. If you're like me, I highly recommend getting one of these.
For clean-up regarding stamping, I do use pure acetone. It makes clean-up quick and targeted, with no residue of any sort. I clean my plates and my stamper with it between image applications. After a manicure I use it to clean up the scraper, too. I use it together with (5)...
5) Cotton pad. I buy mine at Costco for about $3.99 per metric crapton of them:
I am showing you a picture of a used one so you can see that if you use the side that has the firm surface, you can use it to clean your plate and stamper for a fair amount of time without it breaking down and giving you a ton of those little white hairs. I just put it on the top of my acetone pumper, and wipe it directly onto my plate; when I'm done stamping my image, I just run my stamper over it, and presto! All clean. :) I don't think I've ever needed more than one pad for a complete mani. Once I'm done, I set it aside and use the other side to remove my polish the next time I do a polish change.
6) Clean-up brush:
This is a cheap make-up brush that I got in some cheesy set as gift-with-purchase-type-thing when I bought something else; the point is, you don't have to spend $10 to get a clean-up brush, anything with a flat edge that you can control will do (this was originally intended as an accent eyeshadow brush). You can use this for all of your clean-up if you like, and I often do, so this is all you need in the 'basics' kit. But lately I've been also using a slightly smaller brush to get into the areas directly around the cuticles a bit more effectively. Here's what I mean by 'small':
This is about half the size of the brush shown above, and it has a fairly thin layer of bristles. I find this lets me get into the creases around the cuticles a little better when I need to.
How do I use it? I just pump some of that acetone into the top of the bottle, and dip the brush into it. I wipe a bit of the excess off, and then go for whatever needs to be cleaned up. :)
7) Fast-drying topcoat.
I prefer Seche Vite as a stamper and a blogger because I haven't found anything else that dries as thoroughly as it does as quickly as it does. I am on a continual quest for a 3-free version that works as well, but I haven't found it yet.
Why does this matter for stamping? Because often I need one layer of nail art to dry entirely before I can do the next; if I try to stamp over a mostly-dry polish base, I'm gonna get smush. And nobody likes smush. Also, Seche Vite is the best I've found with respect to not streaking your stamped image. It's still good to let your stamped image dry for a minute or two, especially if it's a Konad stamping polish, but I've had far fewer disasters with Seche than any other topcoat.
And, of course, you don't want your awesome nail art destroyed because your topcoat didn't dry fast enough once you were done. ::shudders::
So there you have my basics! A small but effective tool-kit that will let you be stamp to your heart's content. :)
Hugs and love,