Rubber stamping is a popular craft.  Scrapbookers, card makers and altered artists all use rubber stamping to add to their art. Basically, all you need to start stamping are stamps, paper and ink. It sounds easy, but with so many different types of inks out there, it can be difficult to know which ink to use when. Here's a list of the most common inks and what they do for rubber stamping.

Dye ink is the most common ink used in rubber stamping. Dye inks dry fast, and most brands are waterproof so you can color your stamped image without the ink smearing, even when using watercolors. They are great for thin lines and outline images, but on bold rubber stamps they have a tendency to bubble and leave an uneven impression.

Pigment inks come in a number of vibrant colors and metallics and are permanent on more surfaces than dye inks. Once stamped, pigment inks stay wet much longer and often need to be heat set on glossy surfaces. This makes them ideal for embossing, just pour clear embossing powder over your stamped image and melt it with your heat tool to emboss in a variety of colors. Pigment inks tend to bleed and smear, so use a steady hand when stamping.

Hybrid inks, like Stuart Superior's Palette hybrid inks, have properties similar to both dye and pigment inks. They dry fast and are waterproof like a dye ink but have the strong colors and can be used on many different surfaces like a pigment. They are a great general use ink.

Watermark inks such as Versamark leave a dark impression, especially on dark cardstocks. They are invisible on light cardstocks, which makes for a number of great stamping techniques. They hold chalk, resist ink on glossy cardstocks, and stay wet long enough to use as a clear embossing ink, and generally yield better results.

Chalk inks are based on chalk instead of dye or pigment. They are permanent with heat setting on many surfaces, and they have a soft pastel look when stamped. The best feature of chalk inks is that they ink up a bold rubber stamp evenly and give a smooth impression when stamped. Chalk inks will stain acrylic (clear) stamps, but they are safe to use on regular rubber.

Embossing inks are either clear or slightly tinted, and are only used for heat embossing.

Solvent ink, like StazOn, is permanent on almost everything. Solvent ink is great for a number of different crafts and dries quickly. Because it is solvent based, other solvents such as Sharpies will cause the ink to run and smear. After using solvent ink make sure to clean your stamps with a solvent cleanser or your stamps will stain.

Each rubber stamping ink has a different purpose for which it was designed, and part of the fun of rubber stamping is experimenting with the various inks and developing new techniques. Although you will only need a couple of the general use inks to get started, the specialized inks are fun to play with and add a whole new dimension to your crafts.