Stamping 101 Part 2: Struggling with Stamping? Try These Techniques!

Looking for nail stamping tips? Have a stamper that won't pick up? Learn how to scrape, pick up an image and stamp your nails here in HD video!
Do you want to learn to stamp your nails?  Or are you having trouble with a step, like a stamper that won’t pick up? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, I will show you multiple ways to perform each step of the stamping process. And I will do it SLOWLY so you can actually see how I am doing it! Like the other posts in my “Stamping 101” series, this is lengthy. So I recommend you grab a beverage and get comfy or bookmark this post for a time when you have 20+ minutes.


First off, I am sorry if you are having trouble learning to stamp your nails. I had a terrible time myself, struggling for months and giving up many times, figuring it just wasn’t meant to be. During this time, I watched a ton of videos on YouTube created by some of the most experienced stampers. I picked up bits and pieces from all of them. And ultimately I learned that there are several ways to perform each step in the stamping process. Some of them worked for me, some didn’t, and I added my own twist to a few. So I created these videos to show you every way I know of to do each step, and how to do them with more than one tool.

Before we get started, this is a good time to review my 1st Stamping 101 post Know THIS Before You Spend $1 on Stamping to ensure you have the right tools for the job. It covers things like picking the right plates for your nails, choosing a stamper, and stamping polish options.

I’d like to share a few tips (and a little humor) that I would have found helpful in the beginning:

  • Expect that stamping will be difficult. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when it ends up being easier and exceeds your expectations. 
  • Stop for the day, or at least step away for a while, when you get frustrated. Nothing is going to work right once you’re aggravated.
  • Don’t take out the trash on days you’ve decided to throw away all of your stamping supplies. I am fairly certain you’ll want to try again. 🙂

I have divided the videos into 5 segments. If you are only having trouble in one or two areas you can scroll right to those segments. I have also compiled them into a single video so you can just kick back for about 15 minutes and watch it uninterrupted.

Priming Your Stamper

I decided to put this segment first since XL squishy stampers are all the rage today. I will help you determine if your stamper needs to be primed. If so, I’ll show you how to do it with a Magic Eraser sponge. It’s easier and faster than priming your stamper with nail files. But I will include the nail file tutorial at the end of the post for anyone who wants to learn it.


How to Swipe/Scrape

Here I will touch on every aspect of scraping. From how much nail polish to apply, how to hold the scraper and how much pressure to use. I will be demonstrating using multiple stamping plates and different types of scrapers.

You’ll need to remove the protective plastic film from your stamping plate before trying this step. Most plates will arrive coated with this blue plastic film to protect them from scratches in transit. But several brands are using a sneaky clear plastic film now. You need to peel the film off and then remove any residue by cleaning the plate with acetone.

Picking Up an Image

This was the first step in the process that I had a hard time with. Here I will show you how to pick up an image 2 different ways using a firm Konad stamper and an XL squishy stamper.

Stamping an Image

And once I finally mastered picking up the image I couldn’t get it onto my nails! Can you relate??? I will show you five different ways to stamp an image onto your fingernail. I’ll be demonstrating using multiple stamping plates and 2 different stampers.

The Finishing Touches

I am really hopeful that you will find something in these videos to get you stamping right away. I’ll never forget the first time I got it to work. I was so excited to snap a few photos and share it everywhere! And if you are involved with social media (who isn’t???), I am sure you’ll want to do the same. To ensure your photos look amazing, this final video that shows you how to clean up and apply topcoat without smearing your designs. 

The Complete Video

Here is the consolidated video including all 5 segments. Since you may have scrolled here directly, this is a short overview of the techniques you’ll find in each section:

  1. Priming Your Stamper – I will help you determine if your stamper needs to be primed. If so, I’ll be showing you how to do it with a Magic Eraser sponge.
  2. How to Swipe/Scrape – Here I will touch on every aspect of swiping. From how much nail polish to apply, how to hold the scraper and how much pressure to use.
  3. Picking Up an Image – Next I will show you how to pick up an image 2 different ways using 2 different stampers.
  4. Stamping an Image – Here I will show you 5 different ways to stamp an image onto your fingernail. Demonstrated using multiple stamping plates and 2 different stampers.
  5. The Finishing Touches – In this final bonus video, I’ll show you how to clean up and apply topcoat without smearing your designs.

Priming with Nail Files

Here’s my YouTube video that covers Priming Your Stamper with Nail Files. Done carefully, slowly and gently it is an effective, old school way to prepare your stamper. I used this method many times successfully before Magic Erasers came along.



And there you have it. All of the techniques I that I learned along the way that made stamping possible for me. I hope something you read or saw in the videos makes it work for you too! If so, it would be an honor if you shared your first stamping photo with me in the Comments section below! If you would like to purchase any of the items I used please see the list below.

I don’t want to burst your bubble when you just got it working. But you need to know that there will be bumps along the way. Sometimes your “tried and true stamper” and “go to scraper” won’t work with a particular plate, as you saw in my scraping video. I go over the steps I take when I run into trouble in my problem-solving post End The Frustration! Start Stamping Now.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have in the Comments section or you can email me directly at [email protected]. I reply to all comments and emails as quickly as possible.

Here is some information about where to buy some of the products I used in the video.Magic Eraser sponge – available at supermarkets, drugstores, and

Messy Mansion stamper heads –

Dashica Infinity plates –

MoYou London plates –

Bundle Monster plates –

Mundo de Unas polish –

HK Girl Fast Drying Topcoat –

Seche Vite Topcoat is available at Sally’s and many online shops.

  • Samantha Whitehouse

    No matter what I do, I cannot pick up the design. I paint a little, a lot, scrape lightly, scrape harder, nothing picks up.

    • Hey Samantha! So sorry you are having trouble. I imagine you’ve already removed the protective film and cleaned the plate with acetone. So tell me, are you working quickly…scrape then pickup the image within a few seconds? Also, please let me know what type of stamper you are using. I’ll try my best to help!

      • Samantha Whitehouse

        Yes to everything you suggested and i am working as quickly as possible, less than 10 seconds from painting the polish to getting it on the stamper ,,,or attempting to. Nothing goes into the squishy gel stamper.

        • OK. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Tell me more about the stamper. Is it a clear jelly stamper? Has it ever worked for you? Sorry for all of the questions!

          • Samantha Whitehouse

            It is a clear jelly, Born Pretty stamper and scraped. I attach a picture hereto. I have never done any of this before. I died, had a liver transplant and they are trying to figure out what is attacking my body (new liver seems ok) and one of the things I’m doing to get my mind of life is learning how to do my nails in fun. Says. The videos make it look so easy to swipe on the paint, scrape it off, roll the stamper across the design and into your nail, yet looks are clearly deceiving. Thank you so much in advance.

            • Sorry for the delay Samantha! I had a bit of insomnia last night and finally fell asleep right before your message arrived. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot and I’m so sorry stamping is not yet the fun hobby you were hoping for. <3 I know what the problem is. Clear jelly stampers are the hardest to learn to stamp with. Let's try 2 things to see if we can get it working better for you.

              Remove the stamper head from the holder. (1) Wash it gently with warm water and dish detergent. Dry it off. (2) Next, put some isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad and swipe it across the stamper head a few times.

              Do you have a polish with a metallic finish you could work with? They are known to work fairly well. Let me know how it goes! You can reply here or email me at [email protected] xo

  • Ruth

    Hi Karolyn, just wanted to say thanks for all this information! I read all your articles about stamping before I bought any plates and I've been really successful with my attempts. You've explained all the techniques really well and it saved me a lot of frustration when trying to get it to work. Thanks so much!

  • Thank you so much Kim for your awesome compliment! You are right, there is a lot of information here and I hope it was best decision to get it all out there at once instead of releasing it in bits and pieces. I had "one stop shopping" in mind. LOL! Thank you for bookmarking and for sharing! It would be great if others follow your lead to help get the information out to all of the ladies that need it! <3

  • Thank you very much Diana for such wonderful feedback! I am glad you enjoyed the videos! LOL, you are far from a dummy and do amazing work sweetie so I appreciate you sense of humor! God bless you too Diana! <3

  • Thank you for your amazing compliment Francine! <3 Great questions! Let me give it a go!

    Question #1: Silicone stamper heads that are very sticky are most likely Marshmallow stamper heads. They are more delicate, which is probably why it ripped, and don't usually need to be primed, at least in my experience. Believe it or not, they are supposed to be sticky so I don't think you received anything flawed, just not what you were expecting. They are harder to come by these days, but I also got one by surprise once from a seller that listed them as "squishy". I even thought she had made a mistake and asked for another, so now I have a collection. Some people LOVE them, so I guess they are able to get over it sticking to everything, including the plate you are trying to use. I couldn't! LOL!

    Question #2: My apologies, I meant to include "Where to Purchase" links at the bottom of the post. I will rectify that. In the meantime, you can purchase that set from They offer 5 different levels of firmness and I recommend you check the 'Product Description' to see which level is recommended for your nail type. I got the Medium Soft for my definite C curve. Soft would be equivalent to the sticky Marshmallow you already have, as an FYI. Their stamper heads are fairly new and quite popular, so I recommend you check back frequently for restocks, or sign up for their newsletter.

    I hope I've answered your questions! Thank you Francine, you made my day too! xoxo

  • AWESOME!!! One of the best post I had read EVER!
    I have a question, Karolyn: I have the double-size stamper and I tried to priming it with nailfiles, but I have ripped it! I have to say that the silicon stamper was sticky even after I have filed it. Is it possible that I purchased something flawed? And, question numebr two, where can I purchase the two stamper you show us in the first video (the yellow and the red)?
    Thank you! You made my day!!


    Thank you so much for this complete information ,woow they´re good videos… really it is an important information for dummies like me… God Bless U

  • I think I am a "never too many butterflies" girl, but I would still need at least one of these if I wasn't. You're right, they are lovely! If you are on the smaller side of XL, Regular could work good here, since so many of the wings aren't true full nail designs. Happy shopping!!

  • Ummm…ok…words, c'mon….ok, here goes: Woah!!! This is awesome, Karolyn!! There is so much here, it will take a few times to digest and benefit from it all. It is very clear that you worked long and hard to put this together to share with anyone who wants to do stamping nail art. And, for those of us who've been doing it for a while – you're right, having many bumps along the way has now become an expectation of mine. Your post will help us return to the basics and review techniques we may have forgotten about. Great job!!!!! Bookmarked & shared!!!

  • Translucent Mermaid

    They're lovely! I love butterflies and even if I already have Nailz Craze 01, I need at least one of these… But it's always hard to choose between XL and regular!