Planner Friday: Stamping 101

planner friday

If you like the idea of having a pretty planner – or upping its functionality – but you think spending all that money on stickers you’re just going to recycle is ludicrous, stamping may be for you.

Fair warning: This is another superlong post.

The world of planner stamps has exploded in the last couple of years (not literally, that would be a terrible shame).   Some people do 90% of their functional and decorative alterations using stamps; some do the same with stickers; some use a hybrid of both. (That’s me.)

There are a couple of factors to consider when deciding which is right for you:

1 – Portability.  It’s possible to carry stamps and ink with you, but it’s a pain in the ass.  Stickers pack flat and fit just about anywhere.  If you really want to carry stamps around with you, I’d recommend using a broad or brush tipped marker instead of an ink pad.

2 – Bulk.  Stickers double the thickness of your planner – or more, if you do both sides of the page.  Stamps however add zero bulk.

3 – Price.  Stamps may seem more expensive, but the truth is they’re a hell of a bargain. Stickers are only useful once, after all, and stamps and ink can last for years.  Now, if you go nuts and buy a zillion stamps at once only to realize you’re really not that into them, that can blow your budget, but if you start small with a basic set you won’t be out too much money.

How Does the Stamp Thing Work?

You might have noticed that most stamps aren’t like the ones we used as kids – you know, those wooden blocks with rubber glued to the bottom.  Those definitely still exist and can be awesome, but most of what you’ll find for planners is the clear photopolymer variety.


To use these, you need to buy an acrylic block.  These come in an array of sizes, but for most planner stamping needs a 3×4″ or thereabouts should do you fine.  You just peel the stamp off its sheet, place it on the block and press it down, then ink it up and press it onto the paper (no rocking, just one fairly firm press).

acrylic blocks

You’ll also need ink, and here you can spend as much or as little as you like. Sure, you can get crappy kids’ craft ink pads in a lot of colors, but you’ll probably get blurry images that bleed right through your paper.

For mega crisp images, I use VersaFine ink in Onyx Black.  I love how clear and precise the lines are.  Versafine dries reasonably fast and doesn’t usually ghost through the paper.  The cool thing is that these days you can get mini square or dewdrop-shaped inks in just about every brand, including Versafine. You spend less, they’re easier to store and carry, and they last a really long time just like their big brothers.


You might also want to use colored pencils to give your stamping some pizzazz.  I save my Prismacolors for big art, and use a nice cheap set of good old Crayola pencils to color on my planner.  There are a ton of colors, and you can find them in any grocery store.

That’s really all you need.

mockup page

After that it comes down to what you need out of a stamp design.  There are plenty of sets that are purely functional, then others that also have cute images; then there is the whole world of stamps that aren’t planner-specific but are decorative, and you can go to town with those.  I’d caution you once again that it’s easy to spend a lot of money getting different adorable sets (Lawn Fawn, I’m looking at you) that you don’t really need.

To see pretty much the ultimate in stamp planning, I recommend the YouTube channel Meredith Plans – she’s got it down to a science.  Here’s my favorite of hers:

Now, keep in mind you don’t have to do cutesy things in your planner – there are a lot of really pretty artistic and vintage-style stamps out there.  Check out anything made by Tim Holtz for the latter.


If there’s no description it just means I’ve never used their products but have heard they’re great from other planners.

Sweet Stamp Shop – One of the most popular brands at the moment – SSS’s stamps combine super cute imagery with practical labels and words.  They’re not just cute, though – their stamps are of fantastic quality and create gorgeous results.  For your first time out, I’d recommend Plan Everyday.  It’s a mix of both icons and words for only $7.95.
Atelier Dreams
Annie’s Paper Boutique
Tiny Stamps Big Plans – 
When they say tiny, they mean TINY.  We’re talking like 1/2″ or smaller. If you’re using a calendar or planner with little available real estate, these folks have the solution.
Miss Kimm Creates
Studio L2E

A number of the larger stamp makers have also waded into the fray:

Hero Arts Clear Planner Stamps
Technique Tuesday
Marion Smith Designs
(I would loooove to get this one but it always seems to be sold out.)
Even Simon Says Stamp itself has a line of planner stamps.

These are specific sets that I use and love:

Sweet Stamp Shop’s Just Icons
Sweet Stamp Shop’s Fall into Christmas
Sweet Stamp Shop’s Plan Pet (I love the little snake, and I love that they have a snake stamp.)
Technique Tuesday’s Planner Important
Lawn Fawn, Smitty’s ABCs
Lawn Fawn, Flirty Frames

And a couple of useful YouTube videos:

Sweet Stamp Shop has a great series of Stamping 101 videos, including a great (and short) one just about ink which goes into the subject in much more depth.  Here’s the basic basics:

Next week:  See how all this gobbledygook works together as I show you how I go about it every week, step by step.

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