As someone who's been involved with rubber stamping for more than 25 years, I truly appreciate the vast array of stamp pads that are currently available on the market. There are so many stunning colors, and so many specialty inks that can be used to produce amazing effects!
But I've got to admit that all these choices can get a bit overwhelming. How can you possibly hope to make sense of all the different brand names and types of ink? Well, follow along, and we'll explore the alternatives and help you decide which ink pads will work best for your artistic style.
The first inkpads I ever saw were those single-color office supply pads, enclosed in a case with a hinged lid. They're great for marking a bill as "PAID" or a package as "FRAGILE", but they didn’t do much for me as an artist. After shopping around at half a dozen office supply stores, I managed to collect a total of five colors, and the stamp impressions they provided were less than stunning. Furthermore, it was almost impossible to ink up a stamp that was bigger than my inkpad, because the sides of the hinged case got in the way.
Fortunately, those days are over. Now you can go into the craft aisle of almost any discount store and buy inkpads with a raised surface for inking up any sized stamp. Plus, they come in every color imaginable... especially if you go online or visit a full-fledged specialty craft store! Some brands have removable lids, or lids that fold away underneath, so you don't have to worry about them getting in the way. Most of the popular brands even have little reinker bottles available for freshening up the pads when they start to dry out. It's a great time to be a rubber stamper!
SIZES AND SHAPES
Before we begin, I should point out that there are several different sizes of ink pads available. If you want to try out a new type of ink, many companies sell miniature ink pads in an interesting variety of shapes. Some of them, such as Clearsnap's Cat's Eye® and Tsukineko's Dew Drop® are available in multi-color sets. These cute little pads can be especially handy for applying ink into tight corners when preparing a multicolor print, and they are essential when assembling a portable stamping kit for crafting on the road.
|Left to right: an assortment of miniature ink pads, full size inkpads, reinker bottles and ink roller cartridges (jumbo and standard sizes) |
In general, though, I usually recommend buying full-size ink pads (about 2" x 3") rather than miniature pads. They are easier to use, need less re-inking, and provide better coverage. Miniature ink pads are fun and affordable, but plan on buying reinkers for them soon if you expect to use them often. And, to be honest, when I want to ink up a stamp for a multi-color print, I tend to reach for my brush-tip markers.
Another class of inkpads that deserves mention is the ink roller cartridge. This is a cylindrical inkpad that mounts into a special handle so that it rotates against a rubber stamp wheel, creating a repeating image that can be rolled out to any length desired without stopping to reink. When it comes to ink rollers, Clearsnap® has clearly cornered the market with their awesome Rollagraph® system. Also marketed under the brand name of their home-party-sales-based sister company, Stampin' Up!®, they have a wide variety of ink colors available in both a standard one-inch-wide cartridge and a double-width Jumbo size. There's also a delightful array of stamp wheels available for each size!
Ink formulation is a complicated science. As we begin to explore the long list of differing types of ink pads, it's helpful to understand a little bit about the chemistry of inks.
All inks are comprised of two basic components:
a fluid (or "vehicle") and a colorant. Most craft inks use a water-based vehicle, with an assortment of additives to control drying time, consistency, pH level, and shelf life.
Despite the daunting variety of products on the market, it may be comforting to note that they can mostly be divided into two simple categories:
Dye-based inks have colored dyestuff dissolved into a fluid vehicle.
Pigment-based inks have solid particles of colorant dispersed throughout the vehicle, floating in suspension.
These are general purpose inks that can be used for stamping on most kinds of paper. Dye inkpads come in a variety of sizes, as well as inking surfaces, although felt and linen pads are most commonly used. Dye inks are generally inexpensive, and are available in a large range of colors. Their dissolved dye colorants are transparent, so they can be used in weak concentrations to produce subtle pastel effects. However, the ratio of dye to vehicle can be increased to produce darker shades with strong, vibrant colors.
Dye-based inks set up by soaking in and staining the fibers of the paper. On porous surfaces, this tends to happen quickly, so dye inks are generally not appropriate for use with embossing powders. Since the colorants of dye inks are dissolved into the liquid vehicle, and thus chemically bound to it, you may also notice some absorbtion of color into the paper fiber that can also contribute to the fuzziness of the final image.
WATER-BASED DYE INKS
Water-based dye inks are acid-free, but do tend to fade with time and especially sunlight. Furthermore, these inks are not waterproof, which means they can run if they get wet. You won’t want to color over your stamped images with markers or water colors because the ink will smear, so stick with chalks, crayons or colored pencils.
On glossy, coated or other non-porous surfaces, water-based dye ink tends not to not dry at all and will easily smudge. It also has a tendency to bead up on the face of clear polymer stamps, producing a somewhat blotchy impression. You'll want to avoid using water-based dye ink on very absorbent surfaces, such as mulberry paper, since it will bleed very strongly and produce a blurry image.
On the other hand, you can produce some really interesting effects by taking advantage of the water-soluble nature of dye inks. For instance, try inking up a stamp that has broad surfaces in its design, and then use a spray bottle to lightly mist it with water before stamping to get a unique mottled effect. Or gently wash over stamped images with a small, damp paintbrush to achieve a watercolor look. You can even use your dye ink pads as water color paints by touching them with a moist brush and then painting directly onto paper. Experiment with different types of paper such as cardstock or watercolor paper.
Many brands of dye ink are also available in spray bottles for special wash effects.
Water-based dye inks are easily cleaned from your stamps with water. Some people like to use damp paper towels or baby wipes to dab the ink off.
Examples of water-based dye ink include:
- Ranger Adirondack® Dye Ink
- Marvy Matchables®
- Tsukineko Impress®
- Clearsnap Vivid!®
- Ranger Nick Bantock® Dye Ink (obsolete)
- Stampin’ Up!® Classic Ink Pads (EXCEPT Basic Black, Basic Brown and Basic Grey)
ANTIQUING AND DISTRESSING INKS
Walnut ink, which is actually produced by soaking black walnuts in water, has long been recognized as one of the best substances for creating a faux antique or "distressed" look. It is commercially available from Tsukineko® in a crystalline form that needs to be mixed with water and can then be used to add a brownish patina to paper or other porous surfaces for an aged look. Tsukineko also uses the brand name Walnut Ink® for their line of multi-color line of antiquing solutions that are available in spray bottles.
Tim Holtz® Distress Inks™ from Ranger are a very popular brand of water-based dye ink pads that are almost in a class by themselves. Noted for their soft "worn and weathered" colors, they’re different from most other dye inks because they stay wet longer, making them very "alterable". The ink pad also has a unique textured surface that contributes to the distressed look of images stamped with it.
Distress Inks™ are unbeatable for blending with water or other inks to produce special shadowing and antiquing effects. Try daubing some of this ink onto a piece of paper, and then mist it with water and watch the colors start mingling and spreading! They also work better on photos than other types of dye ink.
They are available in uniquely textured inkpads that helps accentuate the worn and weathered look, as well as reinkers in glass bottles with eye-droppers built into the lids. There's also a product called Distress Stain™ that seems to be pretty much the same stuff, except it comes in a plastic squeeze bottle with a built-in foam dauber applicator on top. Hey, maybe when you're done smudging it into your papercraft projects, you can use it to give your shoes a new look!
I've heard of a company called FiberScraps that makes a distressing product called EZ Walnut Ink TintZ®. They are available in an array of colors, similar to the Tim Holtz Distress® brand, and only come in the dauber-applicator format.
Hero Arts Shadow Inks® are another product that is similar to the Distress® brand. They are marketed specifically for use with solid "shadow stamps". They provide a subtle wash of ink that flows into the paper, creating a soft-edged background. They can also be applied directly to paper as a watercolor wash.
WATERPROOF DYE INKS
This type of ink has a special binding agent added to its water-soluble vehicle, so that it becomes waterproof once it has completely dried. Many of these inks are also acid-free and may be preferred for scrapbooking because of their waterproof quality. This type of inkpad is especially useful for stamping an outline of an image and then coloring it in with markers or water colors. Hence, you may see these labeled as an "outliner" pad or "watercolor ink pad". This type of dye ink also tends to be less prone to fading than the traditional water-based dyes.
Be aware that although this type of ink is water-resistant and is sometimes labeled as "permanent", it is not suitable for fabric stamping or stamping on plastics. Furthermore, because of its waterproof qualities, it is also somewhat more difficult to clean off of your stamps. Usually soap and water will do the trick, but you may need a solvent-based cleaner if you want to get them absolutely clean.
Examples of waterproof dye ink include:
- Tsukineko Memento®
- Clearsnap ColorBox Archival Dye Inks®
- Clearsnap Ancient Page®
- Ranger Archival Inks®
- Stewart Superior Memories® Dye Inks
- Stampin’ Up!® Classic Ink Pads (Basic Black, Basic Brown and Basic Grey ONLY)
This unique type of waterproof dye ink is specially formulated for being painted over with watercolors or markers. It takes its name from a centuries-old ink formula preferred by professional artists, illustrations and architects because of its permanence and resistance to fading. Although true India ink is a pigment ink using lamp black for coloration, and is not well-suited to rubber stamping, the deep black, super-quick-drying Memories India Ink™ stamp pad is a great alternative. It is the fastest drying black dye ink on the market, and can be used for all porous and nonporous surfaces. It is non-smearing, acid free, archival and fade resistant.
SOLVENT-BASED PERMANENT INKS
This type of ink has its colored dyes dissolved in a alcohol-soluble glycol-based vehicle. These inks do not require heat setting and, once dry, are permanent on almost any surface, including plastic, glass, ceramic, metal, wood, leather, acetate and paper. However, they are not recommended for fabrics that will be laundered. The characteristics of this ink are similar to the ink in a Sharpie® permanent marker.
The most popular brand, StazOn®, comes in a nice array of transparent colors, StazOn® inks are acid-free, archival and dry almost instantly on porous surfaces. They take about 3 to 5 minutes to dry on non-porous surfaces.
They're perfect for stamping outlines and then going over them with markers or paints. They also work great for stamping on shrink plastic.
Examples of solvent-based inks include:
- Tsukineko Staz-On®
- Zim Ink®
- 123 Ink®
Alcohol inks are permanent, dye based inks, similar to what's found in the solvent-based inkpads above, except they have a high alcohol content and are sold in dropper bottles rather than stamp pads. That's because they're not really formulated for rubber stamping—their consistency is too thin and they dry out too fast. However, they are often used in conjuction with stamping techniques—often for making background designs onto which images can then be stamped with other types of inks.
Alcohol inks are fast drying, transparent, and acid free. Ranger Adirondack® is probably the most popular brand on the market. They can be used full strength, or they can be diluted with an alcohol blending solution. This solution can also be used to facilitate the intermixing of various colors. Other mixing additives are available to provide metallic or pearlescent effects.
Alcohol inks are often used in conjuction with a special applicator that resembles an old-school rubber stamp mount. Instead of a rubber stamp, it has a strip of velcro on its face, to which replaceable felt pads can be attached. Dots of alcohol ink can be dropped onto the felt, along with some blending solution or rubbing alcohol, and then a random pattern can be "stamped" out onto a surface. The pattern can be further altered by daubing or spritzing alcohol onto the surface after the ink has been applied. These methods produces unique mottled and/or streaked effects that are reminiscent of polished marble or stone.
For detaill work, Ranger also makes a unique refillable pen designed to be used with their alcohol inks. Replacement nibs are also available.
Alcohol inks are suitable for almost any surface including glossy paper, plastic, metal, shrink plastic, metal foil, glass, or just about anything else you can think of. As I've already mentioned, these inks aren't well-suited for use with rubber stamps. They dry very rapidly, and over time can actually dry out your stamps and cause them to crack. If you want to experiement, be sure to clean your stamps afterwards with a commercial stamp cleaner and conditioner.
Pigment ink does not contain dyes. It consists of tiny particles of solid pigmentation, usually suspended in a water-soluble vehicle. It tends to be thicker bodied than dye-based ink and is usually distributed from a sponge pad.
It does not soak in and stain the paper like a dye-based ink but, instead, dries on top of the surface and remains opaque. That means the ink takes a little longer to dry on regular paper, but the color will remain on the surface, appearing more bright and vibrant. Pigment inks are fade resistant, so they are great for projects requiring longevity, such as scrapbooks.
WATER-BASED PIGMENT INKS
The vehicle in most pigment inks that are available to rubber stampers is water-based. This makes for easy clean-up with soap and water. Be aware, though, that because these inks contain suspended pigment powders, they have a tendency to build up in the tiny crevices of your stamps, obscuring the finer details of the design. You may want to use a toothbrush or a special stamp cleaning pad to scrub your stamps clean when using pigment inks.
Water-based pigment ink will not dry on glossy paper unless you use a heat gun to set it. It may never dry on completely non-porous surfaces, such as plastic or metal. (Sometimes, you may even wish to heat set on porous paper.) But, once it's been heat set, you can watercolor over pigment ink without smearing.
Because water-based pigment ink is thick and stays wet for so long, it’s perfect for use with embossing powders. (To learn more about using embossing powders, see our easy Monkey House Embossing Tutorial.)
Examples of water-based pigment ink include:
- Clearsnap ColorBox®
- Tsukineko VersaColor®
- Ranger Adirondack® Pigment Ink
- Stewart Superior Memories® Pigment Ink
Many ink pad manufacturers offer special pigment ink formulations that are infused with shiny particles that cause them to shimmer and sparkle. You will see such inks labeled as metallic, pearlescent, iridescent, reflective, and/or interference inks. These varying terms can lead to some confusion.
Metallic inks, as the name suggests, produce a metallic lustre.This effect is achieved by adding minute particles of aluminum or other metallic dust to the ink or, in many cases, shiny plastic particles that have been coated with hightly reflective metal oxides. Most of the manufacturers that produce pigment ink pads also offer metallic options, such as ColorBox MetaleXtra®, and Tsukineko Encore®.
Metallic inks tend to dry very slowly if not heat-set or embossed, and can produce weak, blurry images on porous surfaces. (They are prone to bleeding through one sheet of paper onto the next, so it's a good idea to insert a layer of scrap paper behind your work surface.) Looking through my archives, I've also noticed that metallic inks can tarnish over time, losing much of their luster.
However, Tsukineko makes an interesting metallic gold ink called DELICATA Golden Glitz that is specially formulated for use on porous surfaces. It has a dazzling finish with a shiny (almost crystaline) luster that won't tarnish over time. It dries in minutes on porous surfaces, although it won't dry at all on most glossy coated papers without embossing.
The phrase "reflective interference" refers to the tendency of a substance to separate a light source into various wavelengths and then reflect it back in such a way that different colors can be seen when viewing from different angles. Reflective interference is responsible for the prismatic effect you see when looking at soap bubbles, oil slicks, hummingbird feathers, dragonfly wings and compact discs. Ink pad manufacturers usually achieve this effect by infusing their inks with powdered flakes of a semi-transparent mineral known as mica. Examples of reflective interference inks include Pearl Ex® Stamp Pads, ColorBox Mica Magic®, and Tsukineko Opalite®.
"Pearlescence" is pretty much the same as interference, except pearlescent inks tend to have a somewhat milky essence to their reflective qualities, similar to the mother-of-pearl effect you see on the inside of an oyster shell. Tsukineko’s Brilliance® collection includes a popular line of pearlescent ink pads in a wide range of colors.
Some ink manufacturers prefer to use the term "iridescence" when describing their products, which essentially means the same thing as reflective interference. If anything, so-called "iridescent" inks tend to have stronger colors than other interference inks, and usually also have a metallic lustre which is comparible to the nearly-metallic sheen of some types of beetles. Stewart Superior Palette Metallics® and Pearl Ex® Metallic Color Stamp Pads are examples of metallic iridescent ink pads.
Just to confuse matters even more, I will mention that I happen to own several ink pads from Dr. Ph. Martin® that are described as iridescent, although they do not have a metallic sheen and are more like the interference inks described above. I'm not sure if they're still being produced, but I see that they are still available from several online retailers.
These are a relatively new type of ink pad designed to produce a soft chalk-like look without a dusty residue. They are actually a mixure of dye and pigment inks, with the dyes providing a soft, rich color base, and a powdery pigmented substance suspended the ink to provide the chalky finish.
They are available in a wide range of very popular (mostly pastel) colors which dry to a matte finish. The result actually does resemble artist chalks, and lends itself to many simple yet sophisticated techniques. Their opaque coverage produces dramatic effects on dark papers, and they work great for making backgrounds with direct-to-paper application. They are acid free and archival, making them perfect for scrapbooking. Since they’re water based, the are easy to clean off your stamps.
They dry quickly on absorbent surfaces (much too quickly for use with embossing powder) and are permanent when heat set, allowing them to be used with watercolors and markers. Even when they are air dried, they resist smearing, bleeding and fading. They also work on glossy and coated surfaces, although drying times can vary. In such cases, you may want to heat set them for faster drying, and embossing would be an option.
Examples of chalk inks include:
CRAFT AND FABRIC INKS
Craft inks are water based pigment inks, and can be used much the same as other pigment inks. However, the liquid vehicle in these inks has had a special textile medium added to it, similar to what's found in fabric paint. This ingredient allows the ink to work its way into natural fibers, rather than just pooling on the surface and drying. When heat set in the dryer or with a heat gun, these inks become permanent enough to withstand occasional machine washing and outdoor exposure. This makes them especially useful for fabric and wood stamping. A handy tip to keep in mind when stamping on fabric is that if you make a mistake, you can just launder the item without heat setting the ink, and it will simply wash away!
Examples of this type of ink include:
- Tsukineko VersaCraft® (a.k.a. "Fabrico")
- ColorBox Crafter’s Ink®
- Stampin’ Up!® Craft Inkpads
FAST-DRYING PIGMENT INKS
Some pigment inks have a liquid plastic resin based vehicle, instead of water. This allows them to set up like a glue for permanence even on plastic or vellum. These inks tend to be faster drying and therefore are somewhat less suitable for embossing because they may dry before you can get the powder distributed over the stamped image. Ranger Antiquities Ink is one example of a fast drying pigment ink that works pretty well for embossing, but must be heat set for use on smooth surfaces. Tsukineko Brilliance® is harder to emboss with, but sets up naturally without heating on smooth surfaces such as vellum or coated paper. Inkredible® is another brand with characteristics very similar to Brilliance®.
SOLVENT-BASED PIGMENT INKS
If you've been reading along this far, you may have been wondering if it's possible to create an opaque pigment ink pad with a permanent, solvent-based vehicle. The answer to this question remained unanswered until fairly recently, when Tsukineko® released its line of StazOn Opaque® ink pads. At first only available in white and several pastels, they have since been expanded to include black, brown and a collection of metallic colors. These inks are acid-free and archival. They dry quickly on porous surfaces, and take several minutes to dry on non-porous surfaces.
Modern technology has provided ink scientists with innovative new ingredients, making it possible to bring unique products to the market with qualities that put them in categories by themselves.
VersaFine® is a revolutionary ink pad from Tsukineko that uses a synthetic water-soluble oil as the vehicle for its ink. It has the opacity of a pigment ink, but offers the quick drying convenience of a dye ink. It is acid-free, waterproof, and fade-resistant, although it has a somewhat limited number of colors currently available. It works great for stamping outlines and then using watercolors or markers over the top without bleeding. Furthermore, it provides superior coverage that produces unbeatable results with highly detailed rubber stamps designs. VersaFine® has become one of my all-time favorite general purpose inkpads.
Hybrid ink is another recent innovation with characteristics of both pigment and dye inks. It is suitable for all surfaces, including fabrics. Hybrid ink is completely permanent after being heat set, and is much easier to clean off your stamps (and hands) than permanent solvent inks.
Hybrid inks dry faster than regular pigment inks, but are only semi-opaque. They seem to work better with clear stamps than regular dye inks, since they are not as likely to bead up on the surface of the stamp. They may not provide quite as crisp an image as pigment inks, but their versatility will make them a valuable part of your ink pad collection..
Palette® Hybrid ink pads (which includes the collection of sparkling iridescent "Metallics" inks described earlier) are manufactured by Stewart Superior.
Although most ink pads come in single colors, they can also have a variety of colors on the same pad. These are often referred to as "spectrum" or "rainbow" pads. If you are looking for a water-based dye ink spectrum pad, there are two basic options. Since dye inks are prone to bleeding together, one type of ink pad actually separates the various colors onto a series of small individual ink pads. These pads provide a mechanism to simply push the individual pads together for stamping, and then pull them apart again for storage. Therefore, the colors can not intermingle during storage and become muddy. Examples of this kind of ink pad include Stampin' Up!® Spectrum and Tsukineko Kaleidacolor®.
The other type of dye ink spectrum pad is represented by the Ranger Big & Juicy® Rainbow pads, in which the colors are not separated at all. These pads provide a smooth transition where one color gracefully bleeds into the next, rather than having distinct stripes. Over time, however, these pads can begin to look muddy. Be sure to always store them flat to help keep colors from drifting to one side, and be prepared to re-ink lighter colors from time to time.
Spectrum pads are also available with pigment and chalk inks. Because these inks are so thick, the colors will not mix and muddy when stored in contact like the dye ink pads. Clearsnap’s PaintBox® Pads and Option Pads are designed so that each individual color will actually snap out so you can use them alone, or you can rearrange them within the container to create your own customized spectrum of colors. They are available with pigment, chalk, or Crafter’s inks. Clearsnap also has similar pads, called PetalPoints®, that are arranged in a radial design, like petals on a flower. These are available with dye, pigment or chalk inks. Tsukineko Splendor® ink pads consist of a 12-color checkerboard with various colors of pigment ink.
Examples of Spectrum/Rainbow ink pads include:
- Ranger Big & Juicy® Rainbow pads (dye)
- Tsukineko Kaleidacolor® (dye)
- Clearsnap ColorBox PaintBox® (pigment and chalk)
- Clearsnap ColorBox PetalPoint® (pigment and chalk)
- Clearsnap® Crafter’s Ink Option Pads
- Dee Gruenig Blending Blox®
- Memories® Dye Rainbow Pads
- Memories® Pigment Rainbow Pads
- Memories® Chalk Rainbow Pads
- Tsukineko Splendor®
Another possibility to consider is the option of making your own multi-color ink pad. There are a wide variety of uninked pads available that can be customized to suit your needs.
These fall into the category of Sparkling Inks, but they're not intended to be applied with rubber stamps. However, they are great for adding a little bit of pearlescent glimmer to your stamped images. Clearsnap Smooch® is available in screw-top bottles with a brush applicator, or as a fine mist spritz. Other spray-on accent inks include Tsukineko Fireworks!® and Ranger Perfect Pearls™
WASHABLE KIDS' INK PADS
These are water-based inks that are made especially for use by children. While certain washable inks may stain some fabrics and surfaces, most of them should wash off your children and their clothes quite easily with soap and water. Most importantly, they are non-toxic.
Make sure that the washable inkpads you buy have a raised surface, just like the ones you would buy for yourself. Young children are likely to become very frustrated if you give them a small, enclosed inkpad that doesn’t fit the dimensions of the stamp they want to use.
Kid’s washable ink pads come in a nice variety of colors, as well as rainbow pads which are always a favorite! Be aware that washable inks, like other water-based dye inks, do not dry well on glossy paper or other slick surfaces.
Washable children’s ink pads are produced by a number of companies, including:
- Clearsnap (My First ColorBox®)
- Ranger (4 Stamps®)
- Rubber Stampede (Crystal®)
- Stewart Superior (Memories Kiddly Inks®)
- All Night Media®
- Stampin’ Up!®
BABY PRINT INKS
These inkpads are specifically marketed as being 100% safe for creating keepsake handprints and footprints of infants for scrapbooks, baby books, thank you cards, and announcements. They are non toxic, acid-free, smudge-proof, and gently wash off baby’s hands and feet with soap and water. They are usually available in black, pink, and baby blue.
Examples of baby print inks include:
TEMPORARY TATTOO INKS
These are temporary body inks and are lots of fun for kids of all ages! Temporary tattoo stamping is much easier and faster than using body paints, and looks great! The ink in tattoo pads dries in seconds, and the image can be worn for days, although it washes off pretty easily with soap and water when you really need it to. These inks also work great to stamp hands for admission to an event. I recommend the Memories™ Temporary Tattoo Skin Ink Pads from Stewart Superior.
These pads are basically the same as pigment inks, except without the pigment! Obviously they are not used for their own color, but rather just to provide the wet base needed for a medium such as embossing powder to stick to the surface. They are also available with a slight tint added (usually a faint pink blush or a very pale blue) to help you see where your image has been stamped. This can be very helpful; however, there are some techniques that require a completely clear embossing pad in order to produce the desired effect. Embossing pens are also available for adding powder to freehand drawings.
Examples of embossing inks include:
WATERMARK AND RESIST INKS
This is a translucent ink that can be used to stamp very subtle watermark images onto paper or cardstock. This technique is excellent for producing interesting background designs, especially on colored papers.
Some brands, such as VersaMark® and Palette®, dry slow enough to work well with embossing powder. VersaMark® also produces a line of watermark ink called Dazzle® that has an extra iridescent shimmer that will add a bit of sparkle to your designs and looks great on dark papers.
Another use for watermark ink is as a resist agent to produce a batik effect. If you stamp it onto glossy paper and then use a brayer or sponge to apply dye ink over it, the stamped image will resist the ink.
Examples of watermark/resist inks include:
Ranger Perfect Medium® pads are similar to watermark pads, although the formula is much thicker. They come in clear and black, and are marketed for use with pigment powders. As the pigments soak into the stamped image, the mixture is converted into paint. However, this product can also be used for watermarking, embossing, or as a resist agent.
Strictly speaking, these are not ink pads. They contain an acid-free, archival, rubber-stampable clear adhesive! They can be used with flocking, glitter, gold leaf, pigment powders, metallic powders and chalk powders to create amazing effects on coated papers. Just stamp your image on glossy paper and apply the finish of your choice.
There are two distinct types of glue pads. After you make an impression with the Palette Stamp and Stick® glue pad from Stewart Superior, it needs to be heat activated before it becomes sticky enough to work properly. The Essential Glue Pad® from Tsukineko requires no heat prior to use.
Again, this product isn’t really an ink pad. It is a stamp pad containing a chemical which alters the color of paper, rather than adding color. Although various types of paper react somewhat differently, the result tends to be a marbled or dappled antique look that is similar to batik fabric. This is an alternative to a popular technique that involves making a homemade stamping pad by pouring household chlorine bleach onto a towel.
The commercial product, Jacquard’s Castaway® Stamp Pad, is much safer to use than chlorine bleach, and simply requires heating the paper with a dry clothes iron to activate the bleaching process. It seems to work, at least to some degree, on most non-coated papers, except pigment colored paper such as laminated mat board.
STORING INK PADS
Having provided all this information about the different types of stamp pads, I thought I should share a few tips with you about storing them. However you choose to store your ink pads, you should always try to keep them flat. Dye ink pads, in particular, need to be stored flat so the dye doesn’t run to one side of the pad, causing uneven inking. And you will almost certainly ruin your Big and Juicy Rainbow pads if you don’t store them flat, since the stripes of color will run together and turn muddy.
|Above: An old cassette tape rack used to store inkpads. Left: Thrift store spice racks used to store refill bottles, accent inks, and embossing powders. |
Some people like to store their inkpads upside down so that when they’re ready to use them the ink will be near the top of the pad, providing a nice wet surface for inking up stamps. You can store your inkpads in a box or drawer, but I like to store mine on the wall in an old cassette tape storage unit. You can pick these up for next to nothing at almost any thrift store or garage sale, and they will help you free up your desktop and drawers for other craft supplies.
While you're out there trolling for vintage cassette racks, keep your eyes open for other dirt-cheap storage opportunities. The collection of garage sale spice racks that hangs on my studio wall is ideal for storing reinker bottles, accent inks, embossing powders and glitter. (By the way, vintage paper towel racks work great for storing rolls of ribbon and lace!)
If a dye ink formulation is very wet, as with antiquing and distressing inks, you may not want to store those ink pads face-down. In fact, if you do, you may even find that some of the ink pools into the lid. Of course, as long as you know to be careful of this when you open them, you might even be able to take advantage of it and use your lid as an inkwell for brushing and daubing. Heavily-inked pigment pads are also subject to seepage from their foam pads, and are best stored face-up.
--Mitch (a.k.a. Der Mad Stamper) at the Monkey House