Perforations for Artistamps

I wrote the first version of this article around 2002. New perforating options are constantly being developed, tested and marketed.

So, this article is dated, and remains at this site as a starting point for people who want to explore perforating options for artistamps.

One of the first questions people have, is how to make perforated edges so artistamps look like “real” postage.

Many of us simply use the purple-handled Fiskars scissors that create small, wavy edges similar to perforated stamps. You’ll find them around the scrapbooking or rubber stamp aisles of most large crafts shops such as Michael’s.

Others put black or grey dots, similar to the appearance of perforations, on the stamps themselves. Then they cut right next to the dots, with a normal papercutter or scissors.

And some don’t fret about this aspect of the process, and simply leave the stamps straight-edged, or unperforated.

Home-grown perforation options

Another solution to the perforation problem is to create your own holes.

So far, the results with wheels intended for other purposes has been disappointing. The best reviews are from people who use a dressmakers’ marking wheel (on a soft surface so the wheel actually perforates the paper).

Another suggestion is to use a sewing machine without thread in the needle, to punch the holes. These won’t exactly fool anyone into thinking they’re real perforations, but they’re a pretty good substitute.

Use the largest possible needle, intended for sewing through leather or denim. Use masking tape to mark the arm of your sewing machine as a guide, for each line of perforations, so you’ll know how to keep the paper straight as you feed it under the needle.

And, be sure to clean the machine often. Shards of paper and excess dust can build up quickly around the bobbin housing.

However, the only real perforations–so far–are made by a perforating machine.

Professional perforation

WCP-NM (Olathe Poste) sells a variety of perforated papers.

100 Proof Press has artistamp kits and perforated papers.

The Olathe Poste offers an affordable perforating service with a very quick turnaround time.

Home perforating machines

Late in 2005, Dr. Arcane (on the AML [Artistamp] list at Yahoo Groups), created a relatively affordable home perforation machine for artistamp creators. However, his early production run was very limited. Check that list for updates, if you’re interested.

(Search the list archives using the name of the machine, Whizbang, to learn more about it at AML.)

My ex-husband tried to make a similar machine a few years ago, but a major problem couldn’t be resolved: The paper moved too much. The two-handled approach of the Whizbang looks like a fine solution.

Professional and antique perforating machines

Ideally, you’ll find someone who owns one of those wonderful antique perforators. These are massive, heavy beasts that will punch teensy, professional-looking holes in sheets of your stamps.

Frankly, the only way to buy one–except through sheer luck at eBay or a local auction–is to network with printers and other artistampers, so you hear about the infrequent but available perforator when someone is willing to part with one.

Remember that most modern perforating machines are designed to cut dashed lines for tear-out coupons, and so on. They don’t make rows of round holes as on postage stamps.

The next best thing to having your own perforating machine, is to know someone else who owns one, who will swap perforating services for free artistamps, or some other reasonable barter.

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