Cardmaking 101 : Inks

It is the third week in my Cardmaking 101 Series and I will warn you now it is going to be a long post. Today I will covering different types of inks, their properties, and what you might use them for. You can watch the video below for all the details, or see the write up below! And if you missed the last two weeks of Cardmaking 101 and want to check those out, I’ve created a page on my blog specifically for these blog posts and video, as well as a playlist on my YouTube Channel.


I wanted to start with the black I personally use. There are plenty more black inks out there, but I want to focus on three kinds today, black dye ink, Memento Tuxedo Black Ink, and Versafine Onyx Black Ink. I know to a beginner that three black ink pads seems excessive and a bit ridiculous, but I promise, each has their own purpose!

Black Dye Ink 3.jpg

The first type of black ink I want to talk about is black dye ink. This is most definitely the type of ink I reach for the most often. The ink pad itself is a raised surface and I believe a cloth covered felt pad.  The black black ink pad contains a dye ink which means it will soak in and dye the fibers of the paper. This in turn means this particular ink is very fast drying which is a huge bonus, however, as you will see in the comparison photos, it does not produce a very crisp image. black-dye-ink-2

A few thing that my personal ink pad offers that you may want in your ink pad are it is acid free and archival safe. This means it will be great if you scrapbook as well.  Also, my ink pad is waterproof, which will not be true for all black dye ink pads. You will need to read the label and characteristics of the ink pad you purchase if this is something you want from your ink pad. I use this ink pad for the majority of my watercoloring and just general stamping. Finally, my ink pad was made in the USA, which means it is a high quality ink pad and will last a long time. You might also want to make sure that you can buy refills for your black dye ink pad. Like I said above, this is the ink pad I use the most often in my collection and it will need to be reinked. Reinkers are cheaper to buy than a completely new pad, so is definitely a bonus for me to be able to refill!


You can see that my black dye ink pad produces beautiful results and is a nice dark black ink on both the white and black card stock. It will become more apparent on the comparison photo with other types of black ink pads that this stamped image has soaked into the paper and dyed. You may also notice because it is a dye ink it is a bit transparent on the stamp itself.


The next black ink I reach for often if my Memento Tuxedo Black ink pad. This too is a dye ink, however, it has one characteristic that my other black dye ink pad does not. It can be used with my alcohol markers. Now in recent years there have been quite a few new ink pads that have been introduced on the  market that also play well with your alcohol markers, however, this is the one I use.memento-3

You can see this ink pad, too, has a raised surface and is a cloth covered felt surface as well. Now this ink pad is not made in the USA, the back of my ink does say it is made in Japan, but this is one of those times that I just don’t really care that much. It also says that once a stamped image is dry it is water resistant. That does not mean this ink pad can be used for watercolor, however, because it is not water proof, it is just resistant. Finally, you can get refills for this ink pad, so you only ever need to purchase one actual pad, then you can just buy the refill!memento-2

As you can see by the photo, the actual stamping quality of this particular ink leaves a lot to be desired. It is not a dark, rich black ink and is not very solid, however, it’s something I deal with in order to use my alcohol markers. This is definitely not my first choice of an ink pad for sentiments or detailed images. Because this is a dye ink, again, it dyes the fibers of the paper, however, you can see in the photo the ink itself is not as “wet” of an ink compared with my other black dye ink.


The final black ink pad I want to talk about is the Versafine Onyx Black ink pad. The ink pad that I own and is pictured above is the mini version of this ink pad, not the full size (I don’t like the lid on the full size at all).  This particular ink is a pigment ink. That means this ink does not soak into the paper and dye the fibers, like a dye ink, pigment ink sits on top of the paper and is very slow drying. This is very beneficial for some techniques, stamping on colored cardstock, and also heat embossing. versafine-3

The Versafine Onyx Black ink pad itself is more of a sturdy foam ink pad. It definitely has more of a give to it. One of the reasons pigment ink pads have foam pads, instead of a cloth covered felt pad like dye ink, is because a pigment ink is a thicker ink. If you look at refills for ink pads you will see that pigment ink definitely has a thicker consistency and does not run as easily (Think syrup consistency, without the sticky or stringiness). versafine-2

As you can see in the photo this is most definitely the blackest of all the inks and produces the most crisp results. You can also see in the photo, this is a messy ink. Because it is a pigment ink and slow drying you do want to be careful when using it that you don’t smear it all over your paper. Finally, as shown on the stamp itself this is a very opaque ink. It is great to use with sentiments of all kinds, solid stamps, and images you want to heat emboss. It is also waterproof once it is fully dry (this does take some time or a heat tool) and can be used to watercolor.comparison-of-black-inks

Here is the comparison of all the black inks. Unfortunately, there is no ink that is perfect for one use, (that I’m aware of) but this does give you a better look at the results you will get from each and a comparison as well.


Moving onto colored ink pads. I will be using all blues for a better comparison today. The first I want to talk about are dye inks. Dye inks are fast drying inks that soak into the paper and dye the fibers (hence the name). Some dye inks are formulated to stamp very solid at first while others need time to level out and soak into the paper for a more solid and evenly stamped image once it is dry. The majority of dye ink pads do some with a solid lid and the color on the label.


Dye ink pads themselves are, the majority of the time, a raised felt ink pad with a cloth cover. You can see by the photo the ink pad is not the color you will get when you stamp the image. That is why you get the solid lid with the colored label, so you won’t be misled. Dye inks are a thin, transparent ink that are fast drying. Because they are fast drying, you do not want to leave the lid off these ink pads for a long period of time.dye-ink-1

As evident in the photo, when you ink up your stamp with the dye ink, you will not be stamping that exact color you see. Also, if this was a lighter ink you would be able to see just how transparent the ink actually is. Dye ink is great for a number of techniques where dyeing the paper and a bit of mixture between colors is beneficial. Finally, because the nature of the ink and it soaks into the paper, dye ink does essentially disappear on cardstock that is darker than the stamped color. This can either be a hindrance or an added bonus for some techniques. Finally,not only do dye inks dye your paper they will also discolor some of your stamps (especially high quality clear). This does not affect the stamping quality or transfer when stamping lighter colors, but it something to know so you don’t think you ruined your stamp!


Pigment inks are a completely different ballgame. Pigment inks are a slow drying ink that sit on top of the paper. Most ink pads come with a clear lid so you can see the color inside. The color of the ink pad is the color the actual stamped image will be. pigment-ink-3

Because pigment ink is a much thicker type of ink it is normally in a raised foam pad that is quite “squishy” and has a lot of give. This allows for you to get the ink into all the nooks and crannies of a fine detailed stamp. Because pigment inks are more of a slow drying ink you can leave the lid off a bit longer without worrying about them drying out.


As you can see in the photo above pigment ink is VERY opaque. It completely hides the rubber stamp beneath it and the color you see on the ink pad and the stamp is the color of the stamped image. Also, because it is a slow drying ink that sits on top of the paper, it is great for stamping on dark colored cardstock along with a number of other techniques including heat embossing. It is messier than dye ink because it is slow drying so you do want to be careful of smearing when using it and cleaning it off your stamps. Finally, this ink will not discolor your stamps like dye ink. This should not be the sole reason you use this ink though as the discoloration does not damage your stamps at all!


The last colored ink pad I want to share is chalk ink pads. To be honest I don’t use these alot as they’re very similar to pigment based ink pads. The only true difference I can find is they have a more “matte” or “chalky” finish. Because of this, they do tend to dry a bit faster, but again, there isn’t a huge life changing difference.


Chalk ink pads come with a raised foam surface, again very similar to pigment inks. They are also a thicker ink and the color you see on the pad and your stamp, is the color your stamped image will be.chalk-1

You can see in the photo above they are a very opaqure ink that sits on top of the paper. Again, this is beneficial for stamping on colored cardstock (though not quite as vibrant as pigment ink in my opinoin) and heat embossing as well. These inks produce a crisp, clear image that will have more chalky finish when dry. I use these inks mostly for ink blending because they do blend beautifully on cardstock!colored-ink-comparison

Here is the comparison of the inks. You can see the dye ink soaks into the paper and dyes it producing a more “dull” image while the pigment and chalk ink sit on top of the paper and are much more vibrant and vivid. You can also see a slight different in the finishes of the pigment and chalk ink (and I do mean slight). Again, as with the black inks I’ve mentioned above, each ink type has it’s own set of properties that make them great for certain techniques and they each have different purposes. Pigment and chalk inks can be heat embossed, used for vibrant stamping on colored cardstock, and ink blending while dye ink is great for plaid stamping where you want your inks to bleed together, no line coloring, and stamping on slicker surfaces to name a few. Each ink has their own purpose and use and it’s up to you to decide the properties you want and the techniques you use the most!


Moving onto a few specialty ink pads that I use often. The first is a white pigment ink pad. Now when you purchase a white pigment ink pad you want to make sure you are purchasing a nice bright white and good formula ink pad. I like Ranger’s Glacier White ink pad, but Hero Arts and Lawn Fawn both have good white pigment ink pads as well


White pigment inks carry all the characteristics of other pigment inks and their pads including a raised foam pad, slow drying opaque formula, thick ink, etc.


A white pigment ink pad is a great thing to have on hand for a number of techniques. Just a quick search on YouTube will show you a number of techniques this can be used for. It is one of those tools that you don’t use often, but there is no replacement  or substitute for it when you need it.


Staz On ink is a completely different type of ink than any I’ve talked about today. It is a solvent ink pad and comes in a variety of colors. I’ve included it in my white inks because that is the color I use most often.

Staz On Ink pads are a raised foam surface and they also come with a clear cover inside the lid. You want to save that and replace it each time you close your ink pad. This helps the ink pad stay wet and not dry out quite as quickly. When you purchase this ink it will come with it’s own reinker, this is because it needs to be reinked OFTEN (I do it almost everytime I use it).


As you can see this is not as white and vibrant on cardstock as white pigment ink, but that is not where this ink shines. StazOn ink is the ink of choice on slick and non porous surfaces. As you can see in the photo this ink dries, without any help from embossing powder or a heat tool, on a piece of acetate. This is especially beneficial for certain household projects (think stamping on coffee cups, glass of picture frames, mirrors, shadow boxes, etc.), shaker cards, window cards, etc. Any project where you need to stamp on a slick surface, where other inks are not going to dry at all, this is the ink you want to use. This is also a great ink where you want a very permanent ink such as fabric like pillows, aprons, etc. I’ve also seen it recommended for things such as decorations on napkins,   StazOn ink does need a special cleaner (StazOn Cleaner) to be removed from your stamps and this cleaner should not be used on your clear stamps (it will eventually dissolve them). I use rubbing alcohol to clean this ink off my clear stamps (probably not recommended either, but it’s what I use). The bonus with this ink is that if you stamp on your “slick” nonporous surface and it ends up looking a bit funky you can “erase” the ink with rubbing alcohol as well and restamp!


Here is one final look at the white ink swatches. As you can see the StazOn is not a true white ink on the cardstock, but again that is not where that particular ink shines. Also I do want to reiterate that StazOn comes in a wide variety of colors, I just included it in my white inks because that is the one I use most often. The white pigment ink is an ink that is irreplacable. There is no ink to take it’s place when you need it and really has a wide variety of techniques, all of which are quite fun and definitely worth the mess! Just be sure to buy a true white ink pad, as different white ink pads can have different hues.


Moving along with the next ink pad I want to discuss and that is a VersaMark Ink Pad. This is one of my most used ink pads and one of the very first I bought when I started stamping. After 8 years it is still going strong (a little stained), but the actual ink pad still works wonderfully! VersaMark is a different type of ink in that it is a clear sticky ink. I’ve included the refill bottle in the photo to show you that it is in fact clear ink in the bottle! It is very sticky and pretty thick, thicker than even a pigment ink.  It is most definitely my go to ink for any type of heat embossing and it is  great for a variety of stamping techniques, including tone on tone stamp (think backgrounds) and also to condition solid stamps for a better stamped image.


The actual ink pad itself is a raised foam ink pad, but it is much more dense than your typical foam pad. You can see in the photo that my pad is very much stained. Because the pad is filled with a clear ink you can see the staining on this ink pad much more clearly than any other ink pad. The staining doesn’t effect the stamping quality at all. I am a HUGE fan of mini ink pads, and this ink pad does come in a mini size now, however, this is not I would recommend buying a mini in. As I stated above, this is excellent for tone on tone background stamping (it basically makes your stamped image one shade darker than the cardstock) and because I use this ink pad so often and for so many different types and sizes of stamps I really like having the larger size. You can find different types of ink pads that are labeled as heat embossing ink pads or watermark pads, however, this is most definitely my favorite.


As seen in the photo the VersaMark ink all but disappears on the white cardstock. You can also barely see it, except for the shine, on the actual stamp. On the black cardstock you get a better idea of the tone on tone effect you can achieve with this ink. There are so many uses for this ink but the main techniques I use it for are heat embossing (which I will do a video on for this series, so stay tuned!), conditioning my clear stamps that are solid for a better stamped image(again video to come), and tone on tone stamping. I do want to stress that this ink stays wet for a good while, however, it doesn’t smear as easily as typical pigment inks. It has a more sticky texture which is just awesome to work with. There are so many more techniques this ink pad is good for, and a quick YouTube search will lead you to many different videos for each!


The last ink I want to talk about is Distress Ink. You can see in the photo above I do use the mini ink pads, but they also come in larger full size pads as well. I really enjoy the mini pads in this case for a variety of techniques as well as storage space, because these come in ALOT of colors and refills are available. They are a dye ink, however, they are more slow drying (you can get away with heat embossing if you move quickly) and I wouldn’t recommend them for everyday stamping. They are truly a one of a kind ink.


Like other dye inks the pad itself is a raised felt pad with a cloth covered surface. It is a transparent ink that is relatively thin. These inks do not give the best results for stamping, they are a bit blotchy and uneven, but I don’t really use them for “stamping” in the traditional sense of the word.


As stated above these inks don’t produce the best results so you might be wondering why on earth they’re so popular and so many people use them. The techniques you can use these inks for are truly limitless. A few things I use this ink for are watercoloring. Yes, they can be smooshed onto a slick surface (acrylic block, tile, I use a laminated piece of cardstock), add a bit of water to them and used as watercolors. They can also be used along with a blending tool and blended onto cardstock for color combos and backgrounds. And because they react with water you can spritz them and watch them blend. You can also splatter with water, then blot up the water for a fun ink lifting technique. There are also ink refills, as I said before, and they can be used for more than refilling the ink pads. A drop of the refill with a bit of water added creates a gorgeous intense watercolor. You can also drop a few drops no a nonstick craft sheet, add a bit of water and lay your cardstock over top for a truly unique background that is different each time. These ink also blend beautifully not only using a blending tool, but can be mixed and matched for that just right color or tone you’ve been searching for. And remember these come in a variety of colors (quite a few more were added just last year) so there are already so many shades out there! Here are a few links where I’ve used these inks so you can see them in action! Creating Punch Art (I used the ink to shade some die cuts) Distress Ink Blending & Lifting No Line Watercolor


Here is a final look at the swatches of what I would consider my technique inks. Again, these are both fantastic inks, but more so for techniques rather than traditional stamping, so remember that when looking at these swatches!

I really hope this closer look at different types of inks has been beneficial and helpful for you! I remember when I first began stamping and questioning which ink I should use for what coloring medium, why couldn’t I use Distress Inks for stamping, and so many more questions. If I left you with any more questions or I didn’t answer your question at all feel free to leave a comment here, on YouTube or email me and I will try my best to be helpful!

For this weeks Cardmaking 101: Inks post I will not have a supply list. Because there are so many brands that carry these inks it really is impossible for me to list them all! Before purchasing I suggest looking at the reviews for a more telling sign of how each individual brand performs!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy Crafting!!

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