Saturday, September 18, 2010

Unmounting: The Why, The How, and Things I've Learned

When I first read about people unmounting their stamps, I couldn't imagine ever doing it.  Not entirely because of the labor it would involve, but because I like the feel of the wood block in my hand.  My stamps are closely trimmed and mounted with the labels placed in perfect alignment of the rubber.  (Yes, I'm quite *n*l about how I mount my stamps.)  I couldn't imagine tearing them all apart.  Besides, I tend to sell stamps I don't use, and I thought unmounting them would lessen their resale value.  If I unmounted all my stamps, would I have to keep all the blocks in case the buyer wanted them?  Where would I store all of them?

Fast forward to now.  I have no more room to store my umpteen million stamps.  I have even removed some of my lesser used sets like alphabets to another shelf, and I'm still out of storage space.  Getting rid of sets was not an option.  I have whittled and purged as much as I can, and these sets aren't going anywhere.

It was time to unmount.

Here is a picture of my current stamp storage.  Some of the sets have already been unmounted and are stored in CD cases.  My PTI sets are also in CD cases.  As you can see, not much room for any more sets.

Not that I need any more sets, but this takes up such a large area of storage space, and it could be so much smaller.  Now that I have decided on Scrap 'n' Cube for my craft room remodel, it was time to get busy unmounting so I could get rid of that hideous metal shelf that is leaning like the Tower of Pisa.

How do I unmount?  I have microwaved, heat gunned, and just gently pulled the rubber off.  I feel wierd using the microwave - I'm afraid I will damage it by microwaving wood and rubber, and I'll have to buy a new one.  Besides, it's upstairs in the kitchen, and I'm too lazy to lug all my stamps up there and back down again.

I have used my heat gun some, but very carefully.  It doesn't take long to soften it up enough to make it easy to remove.  I will use it only if it is too difficult to remove the rubber and foam without heating.

Some people unmount to bare rubber, but I like to leave the foam on.  I peeled this off without heating at all, and it is one of my oldest sets.  All of the sticky stayed on the block, but the label has enough sticky left that no additional adhesive is necessary.

Once I have the foam and rubber removed from the wood block, I remove the sticker and place it on the foam.  That way my stamp is still indexed, and I can 'see' where I am stamping the image.

A quick trim of the excess sticker around the edges, and I'm ready for the next step.

Ever since I first started unmounting, I had been using a piece or two of double sided tape on my acrylic blocks to hold the unmounted stamps.  After it lost its stickiness, I would put a new piece on.  That worked for a while, but I am ready for something better.  Storing the unmounted stamps in CD cases was also an issue because they slid around inside, and I want them to stay put.

Aleene's Tack-It Over & Over to the rescue!

Here is something very important that I learned...If you are going to use TIOAO, dilute it before you use it, and don't cover the entire sticker!  I was silly (stupid is more like it) and did several sets with full strength TIOAO covering the entire sticker surface before I tested them.  They are very hard to remove from the block, so much so that the label starts to pull away from the foam.  That stuff is super strong!

Now I use it diluted (about 50/50 with water) and put it just in the center of the stamp with a cotton swab.  That way the edges are not tacked down, and it makes removing the stamp much easier. 

A little goes a long way.

One of the major advantages to unmounting is the decreased storage space.  I purchased the empty stamp cases from SU!, and can fit 4, sometimes more, sets in each one by sticking the stamps to both sides of the case.  The hardest part about that is figuring out which sets to put together.  I try to put similar style sets together, but then they can't be in alphabetical order like I am used to.  For instance, Bronc Buster and Wanted belong together.  Do I file them under B or W?  Indexing my stamp sets is going to be an even bigger project if I combine them, but once I decide how I am going to do it, it will be wonderful.  I figure I can reduce my storage space by at least 2/3 by combining my sets.

If you have any ideas for indexing, or how you've combined sets, let me know.  I'm sure you have lots of great ideas out there.  I do know that I want to keep my sets together and not separated into sentiments, flowers, etc like some have done.  I just don't think that would work for me.

Oh, here's something I forgot to mention.  The TIOAO dries very quickly when it is diluted, but I usually let it dry over night just to be sure.  Start out with a little bit on your stamps; you can always add more if you need it, but you can't take it off.  (Or if you know of a way to get it off, please let me know!  I have about 10 sets that need help!)

I hope this was helpful to you if you decide to unmount.  It is a big undertaking, but the need for less storage space is definitely worth it in my book!

Happy peeling!



Susan Raihala said...

Wow, Karen! What a job you have! I'm not interested in unmounting since I have plenty of storage space and have been increasing my clear stamp collection much more rapidly than my wood mounted in the past few years. But it's always fun to see how others are handling their stash. I'm so glad you've found a solution to your problem that makes you happy!

Carol said...

I am impressed by your willingness to do this. I understand your storage need as I am in the same position, but find this task quite daunting right now. But, I am going to find some way to remember your blog post when the time finally comes to unmount mine...I really like that you salvaged the index labels on each stamp. That has been a huge deterent for me in the past. Maybe you've motivated me now!

Ardyth said...

Thanks for this - it does sound like a big job, but I'm going to give it a try!

Betty said...

I started storing my sets my category, trees, leaves, horses (I have tons of them) animals, Western, nature, Asian, African animals, flowers, sentiments, phrases etc. Whatever you can come up with for what you have. Oh and use GooGone to take off the TIOAO glue. It's safe on rubber and wood.

peggy said...

i have been unmounting my stamps for about 2 weeks- doing just what you have done! i did have trouble with them not sticking to the acrylic blocks so will try your idea for ATIOAO- i also ordered some xbox cases for about 45 cents a piece and have have great luck with them. the bigger stamps i have put in stampin up cases-they are just alot more money. i did put similiar sets together and decided to color code them as to subject instead of alphabetical. You have to get used to it but it is alot prettier!
thanks for your ideas!!