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Which Ink Pad Do I Choose?

Which Ink Pad Do I Choose?

With so many different types and brands of ink pads available these days it can sometimes be tricky to know which one to choose. We often get asked which ones are best to use for which project, especially from new crafters, who are faced with such a multitude of choices that they can easily pick the wrong one for their needs, so I thought I’d do you this little guide to the basics.

Many times people have also told us that they can’t get on with stamping and this may be simply be due to using the wrong ink or even the wrong card.

We’ll start with the most popular:-

  1. Dye based inks – These are a fast drying easy to use ink pad and a perfect choice to start with if you want to simply stamp an image or some text onto a piece of card. They can also be very versatile and a good choice if you want to use them for a few different techniques. If you want to do tone on tone shading with a stamped image using just one colour, these are perfect as the ink can be pulled in from the lines of the image. It acts similar to watercolour paint giving more depth to your image than basic stamping but without having to invest in colouring pens. The thicker the line detail on the image, the more ink will be released when you add water using a paintbrush or water brush. Many stamps, especially arty ones, will have already have shading lines on them showing you where to add colour and the more detail lines there are the more ink you will automatically have to play with. You will need to use suitable card for this technique so that the ink will move rather than being grabbed by the card. Many cardstock sheets have a high chalk content so soak up the ink and dry quickly making this technique difficult. To start with I would suggest using proper watercolour paper if you want to try shading. It’s a little more expensive than other craft card but it will allow you to practice the technique easily until you are confident enough to try other types of cardstock. You also will have more freedom to add water without ruining the card as it’s is obviously designed for watercolouring. When you move on to other cardstock try to keep the brush as dry as you can whilst still being moist enough to move the ink. Practice is all you need to master this technique. Dye based inks can also be used for brayering on glossy card and creating shade around a topper using a blending sponge or brush to give a vignette effect. We will expand on all these techniques in the future in our projects section. Dye based inks are also perfect to use with your alcohol markers.
  2. Distress inks – These are also water based dye inks however they have a longer open time than standard dye based inks meaning they are perfect for moving ink around a piece of card as they take longer to dry. They are perfect for the watercolour technique mentioned above but make sure never to put a wet paintbrush directly onto any ink pad, always pat the ink onto something non porous and pick up the ink from there. A tile, craft sheet, piece of acetate or similar is perfect for the job. You don’t want to dilute the ink in your pad if you are then going to do straight forward stamping with it and putting a wet paintbrush directly onto your pad can cause uneven pigment saturation results.
  3. Pigment inks – These are the ink pads you want to heat emboss with as they stay wetter for longer and allow the embossing powder to stick to the image. Unlike the firm felt dye based ink pads, pigment pads tend to be on a sponge base so take care when inking your stamps so as not to get lots of ink between the detail as this can sometimes transfer causing the stamped image to be blotchy. To help you get a crisp image light tapping across the surface of the stamp is all you need. I always turn the stamp upside down the the desk so the detail is facing you and pounce the ink gently onto the surface rather than pushing the stamp down into the ink pad. With a felt dye based ink this is not so important but if you can get into the habit of turning your stamp upside down it makes life so much easier every time you stamp. It means you can easily see when you have covered the surface evenly and it helps to avoid over inking. I have also been told many times by people that they need a large ink pad because they have a large stamp and this is simply not true. This is because the instinct of a non stamper is to press the stamp into the ink causing the common misconception that you need a large ink pad for a large stamp, they are always surprised when I explain turning the stamp upside down and tapping the ink that way. You can ink any size of stamp using this method even a huge stamp with a tiny ink cube which pigment inks often come as. Pigment ink pads can also be used for basic stamping just like dye based ink pads but are not suitable for the watercolour effect as the ink won’t move in the same way. Just give them a little more time to dry, it doesn’t take long on porous card, just a few minutes to ensure you don’t smudge them. I tend to stamp first then do my matting and layering and then my stamped image is always perfectly dry to add on top.
  4. Permanent inks – These ink pads are recommended for watercolouring where you want to keep the outside line pristine, for instance, if you have stamped in black and wish to colour in with non-permanent markers or watercolour paints then you don’t want your stamped outline to bleed when you add water. Permanent inks are especially useful when stamping on tricky surfaces other than regular card, such as glossy or mirri (mirror) card. A word of warning though don’t use permanent inks with alcohol markers as these are made of the same base element they will react together causing the stamped outline to bleed and will ruin your pens. The rule to remember is that opposites work best, dye based ink for alcohol pens, alcohol based inks for watercolours etc. Staz-on is the best ink pad for stamping on acetate and if you turn over your acetate so the ink is underneath you can then colour with permanent markers. As the acetate is clear this works perfectly and you can’t tell that you have coloured on the reverse. You can also use this cheat on clear shrink plastic. Remember acetate is a slippy surface so take care when stamping as it is easy to slip and get a blurred image. However, if this does happen don’t panic mistakes can be removed using staz-on cleaner so no need to waste acetate when your stamping goes wrong, just clean and start again.

There are many more variations and brands currently on the market and new types of ink pads are being introduced all the time but this will hopefully get you started.

Feel free to ask questions and either myself or one of our elves will surely be able to help.

Until next time, happy crafting,

Trish x