This is an example from my beginning work and typical of it. First, I stamped the background. Then I used the same stamp to stamp the accents or embellishments. I used the same set to create a paper "ribbon" border also. It's simple, but I still love the fresh green and white color scheme and the emphasis on the pictures.
This is a recent layout. It might be hard to see, but I stamped the large blue card stock with a darker blue image all over. I'm not much for a lot of "white space" but all over stamping seems to break up that blank area and give it a bit more visual texture.
In this layout, the background stamping is a bit more sophisticated. I stamped the background with leaves and watercolored them in... I used the same flower stamps to create the embellishments over the text block.
This is one of my favorite layouts. It is my scrapbooking manifesto layout. I used a lot of simple collage stamping and masking to create the backgrounds and title blocks.
This is a very recent layout. The background stamping is subtle. They blue-grey strip of card stock going down the middle of each side has stamping. I used the same stamp as I used in the giant ampersand and the accent circle. I love the way I used the same stamp in background and in accents. It really helps tie the whole thing together.
For my last layout in this blog, I have included one where I took a fairly sophisticated stamping technique and made a background paper. I love this layout of my Grandma's wedding. The gold tones in this background paper makes this layout very special. Generally when I do this, I just make one large sheet of background paper and then cut it up and use it like regular pattern paper. If you want to learn more about these more advanced stamping techniques, I would refer you to Technique Junkies Newsletter. It is a great resource for learning more stamping techniques.
I hope this has shown the range of ways you can use stamps to create backgrounds, from stamping all the background to stamping just a bit to help tie the layout together. What I love about stamped backgrounds is that they are often less busy than background paper. As I've grown more sophisticated in my work, I find that I am mixing pattern paper with stamping more and more. I like the balance and contrast that it offers me as a scrapbooker.