Let’s talk Inks! I have a slight Ink Pad obsession/collection and feel like I have “full set syndrome” more with inks than with any other crafting product. We will also go over some of my favorite blending tools/brushes.
QUICK TIP: If you are stamping with clear acrylic stamps (less expensive than photo polymer and much lower quality), and your ink is beading up on the stamp and not stamping solid, chances are that it’s the stamp and not necessarily the ink. You can learn more about types of clear stamps here.
If the product(s) are available online (usually where I purchased it), I will be list and link for you. I do use affiliate links when possible (at no cost to you), but none of the products I’m listed were provided or sponsored by anyone. These are simply my personal favorite products that I use when crafting. Full Disclosure Here.
There are SO MANY brands of ink pads out on the market now and most are made in the same factories but branded for each company. So when I am asked “what brand of ink should I buy?”, I suggest buying by the colors your like, not necessarily the brand. This is NOT to say that all inks stamp the same, but if you are familiar with the major brands, you can pretty much tell which ones come from the same manufacturers. I’m going to share my favorites with you today.
My favorite inks have not changed much since last year so some of this may be a bit repetitive if you are familiar with last year’s list. However, this year there are new tools and I will list some ink pads that I’ve tried and really liked but did not buy because to be honest, I have every color I’ll ever need and around 300(?) ink pads. I am running out of room to store them and again, I have “full set syndrome” which I don’t recommend LOL. Here is a sneak peek at my ink pads right now.
Okay so let’s start with the basics:
Basic Black Ink Pad
For the past several years, I find myself returning to the same black ink pad over and over and that is the Lawn Fawn Jet Black Ink Pad.
This ink pad is for use with alcohol markers, stamps dark black, sharp and solid. It dries instantly and I never have to double stamp with this ink, I just love it. It is also waterproof and dries permanent. It’s my all around “go-to” black ink pad.
All in One Black Ink Pad
Obsidian Amalgam Ink by Gina K Designs is a new BLACK BLACK ink pad that works well with well, everything! It works with:
- Alcohol Markers
- Colored Pencils
You just have to give it a minute or two to dry fully (or hit it with your heat gun) just to be sure it’s ready to use. Obsidian is darker than the original Amalgam Ink I listed last year. That’s why it is my new favorite over the original.
Spectrum Noir Finesse Ink Pads
This ink comes in both Alcohol-proof and Waterproof.
These are the available colors:
White Ink Pad
White Ink Pads are so tricky. It’s hard to find one that will stamp sharp, clear and solid. As I’ve said in the past “There is no perfect white ink pad, yet”. Personally, it depends on the project I’m working on and what kind of look I’m going for when I am deciding which white ink pad to use.
If I want a solid bright white sentiment stamped, I will use Memento Luxe Wedding Dress Pigment Ink Pad. If I want something with more solid, even coverage, I will use Hero Arts Unicorn White Ink Pad. Several years ago, I posted a demonstration and comparison video comparing five of the most commonly used white ink pads. First let’s take a look at how each ink pad stamped out on my (messy) chart!
(Click the image to view full size)
Below you will find a video showing the demonstration and stamping of the different white ink pads.
When you are looking for an embossing ink pad, you want something clear and sticky that dries slowly so that you can add embossing powder and heat emboss. There are many good embossing ink pads on the market today including Nuvo Clear Embossing Ink Pad. and the most popular, Versamark.
I honestly use both and switch back and forth between these two. It usually depends on which one happens to be on my desk at the time. because I feel like they both work equally. They are also great for tone on tone stamping. (Similar to a watermark on an image).
Gold & Silver Ink Pads
Gold and silver are another type of ink that is difficult to get a great impression from. Most stampers will use embossing powder to get the look they want. However, if you are not looking for a raised stamped image, Delicata Gold and Delicata Silver are the absolute best gold and silver (they also have copper) ink pads I’ve ever found. They stamp beautifully and look almost like an embossed image but flat.
Delicata also offers a Four pack of mini ink pads that include Gold, Silver, Copper and Bronze.
Dye & Pigment Ink Pads
If you are not sure what the difference is between dye inks and pigment inks, here is some basic information that will help you understand the differences:
Dye inks soak into almost any type of paper and dry very quickly. This makes them easy to work with (and less messy than pigment inks). Because they dry so fast, you cannot emboss with dye inks. Dye inks are thinner in consistency than pigment inks and are more transparent, as pigment inks are more opaque.
Pigment Inks sit on top of the paper, instead of being absorbed into a paper like dye inks. They are thick and opaque and dry slowly which make them perfect for heat embossing.
My favorite type of ink to stamp with on a regular basis is dye ink. This is because it dries fast and gives me less of a chance of smearing it (lol).
Here are a few of my favorite dye inks. (Keep in mind that many of these inks are made in the same factories by the same manufacturers but branded for different companies so the formulas may be close or even exact but with different colors/shades).
Watch Kat’s Stamping Demo Video here.
Download a free checklist of available colors here.
|Altenew Dye Inks
Watch Kat’s Stamping Demo Video here.
View a complete color chart of available colors here.
Download a blank color swatch here.
|My Favorite Things Dye Inks
View a complete color chart of available colors here.
(Scroll half way down the page to download blank color charts)
|Gina K Dye Ink Pads
Pigment inks are wonderful to heat emboss with, they dry slower than dye inks because they sit on top of the paper, rather than soaking in, like dye inks. You will always get a better stamped image with pigment inks than with dye but because of the slow drying time and possibility to smear the ink, that’s why I “mostly” use dye inks on a daily basis.
The reason I like pigment inks is because you can use any clear embossing powder over the stamped image and you will get the embossed effect in that ink color. That means you don’t need to purchase every color of Embossing Powder (Which I will go over on my Embossing Products Post). These are the pigment inks I like and recommend.
Versafine Clair is a quick drying pigment ink pad that stamps like a dream! I am in the process of collecting the all (full set syndrome LOL)
I called this section distressing inks but I also could have called it blending inks or technique inks. I’m including the tried and true Tim Holtz/Ranger Distress Inks, Distress Oxide Inks and a brand new ink by Spectrum Noir that has the same effect as the aforementioned products and I think it is worth looking into the new ones as well, depending on what colors you are interested in.
What are the Original Distress Inks? The original distress ink is a dye ink that is reactive with water and are perfect for blending and distressing (aging) your paper or product. You can create beautifully blended backgrounds with multiple colors and even use with stencils. They are not good for stamping however.
IDEA: One very popular use for distress ink is to blend your background, and then spray it with a distress sprayer full of water (or even shimmer spray), or even drop water droplets with a wet hand, on your background and wait a few seconds and then dry it up with a paper towel or microfiber towel and it will leave spots/drops that give your background a neat texture. I love that technique;
|Tim Holtz Original Distress Inks
Looking for a way to store full size distress inks?
How about a way to store mini cubes?
Distress Oxide Inks
Distress Oxide Inks came out about a year and a half ago, I believe and have changed our crafting world! They are a hybrid ink meaning a mix of pigment and dye inks. The oxide inks are smooth and velvety and look like a chalk ink, only they have all of the same properties as the original distress inks. When used with water, they leave you with an “oxidized” look that can be absolutely beautiful.
One of the advantages to Oxide inks that I see is that you can layer and layer and layer them and never get a muddy mess! I am not good at remembering which colors go with the others (I know I should be better at that by now LOL) so the oxide inks are perfect for me. Another advantage is that you can stamp with them and get a perfect impression!
|Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Inks
Distress Oxide Inks come in 60 colors
and are currently only available in 3×3 ink pads.
Spectrum Noir’s Harmony Water-Reactive Dye Ink Pads
These ink pads are very similar to distress inks. They are made for blending and distress effects. They are archival and acid-free, and are available in thirty-six colors. You can purchase them in packs of three that blend perfectly together which takes the guesswork out of choosing which colors go well together.
|Spectrum Noir’s Harmony Water-Reactive Dye Inkpads
These come in 36 colors currently.
I have recently purchased and used the new blending tools by Scrapbook.com and I’m in love with these! They look similar to the original Ranger blending tools, however, the sponge part is DOME shaped which makes ALL the difference in the world when blending! No more harsh circles/lines when you blend! I highly recommend these and encourage you to give them a try! They are my newest favorite blending tools!
Money Saving Tip!
For a few years I’ve been using these to blend my ink with .Creative Expressions Mini Smoothie Blending Sponges for my ink blending purposes. They come in a small size and a larger size. The larger size comes in a 2pk and the small size comes in a 4 pk.
I love the way these blend much better than the other Ranger Blending Tools. The only downside is that I have arthritis in my hands and sometimes gripping the smaller sponges causes my hand to lock up and cramp. The larger ones are much easier to use but I still use the smaller ones at times because I already have a full set of them and have the perfect storage solution for them (LOL). (A similar storage container to the one I use can be found here.) I have a few of the larger ones that I also use but haven’t yet switched them all over. If you have arthritis or hand pain, I suggest the larger sized sponges, otherwise these mini sponges are perfect!
This is a card that I created using these sponges. Keep in mind that I used to be TERRIBLE at smooth ink blending. These sponges make all the difference for me!
The newest trend to hit the crafting world are Blending Brushes. Picket Fence Studios were the first (that I know of) to introduce these brushes as a crafting tool for ink blending. They were originally designed for applying make-up but someone had the ingenious idea to market them to crafters and they work really well if you want a very light and soft blended effect. My personal preference is usually a darker blend so I rarely use blending brushes but when I do, I use the Picket Fence Studios’s Blender Brushes.
90% of the time I use the two largest brushes. I only use the small ones for projects like stenciling different colors in small areas if that makes sense.
I have tried the Amazon brand brushes but the first one I used, the handle snapped in half while I was blending! I personally am choosing to pay more for higher quality brushes (which for me means buying them a few at a time and building up my collection slowly). I am supporting and would encourage you to support the company that first came out with this idea (to my knowledge) which is Picket Fence Studios. However, there are many other companies who are selling their own brand of similar brushes. My opinion (and you can take it or leave it), is that you “get what you pay for” when it comes to most things. (This could be because my amazon brand brush snapped in half LOL)