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Inks-The Basics

No matter what type of paper crafting you are into, at some point you are going to be crafting with inks. Stamping naturally calls for the right type of ink to do it correctly, But there are also other paper crafts where you will be applying inks. Think about art journals, cards, scrapbooks, paper flowers and much more. Having the right ink for your crafts will make the difference between success and frustration.

Over time, your ink pads will start to dry out. You can keep your ink pad wetter by making sure that the lid is always on when not in use.

Ink Tips

  • Always store your dye Take the ink pads upside down. That way the ink will fall to the top of the pad. Your ink pad will always be ready to be used.
  • Always make sure that your stamp is clean before you use it. That way you will not contaminate your ink pads
  • To keep from over-inking your stamps, take the ink pad to your stamp, rather than dipping the stamp into the ink pad. You will get more even coverage and a cleaner stamped image
  • Always allow your ink to dry all the way before handling it. That way you will avoid smudges.
  • Watch your hands, especially if using more than one ink or color. Use a baby wipe or wash your hands between colors. 
  • Take the ink pad to your stamp, rather than taking the stamp to the pad. You will avoid over-inking the stamp. 
  • Always cover your ink pad even if you are taking a short break.

Alcohol Ink

Alcohol inks are considered dye inks. They are fast drying highly pigmented inks that dry very quickly. The base for these inks is alcohol. The colors can be mixed in lots of different techniques to create unique art projects, 

The most popular brands of alcohol inks are Tim Holtz Adirondack inks and Jacquard inks. Both brands come in 0.05 ml. bottles. That does not seem like a lot, but it takes very little to get your projects done.

They can be used on any surface. They are really vivid on glossy paper or coated paper. They are more muted on uncoated or textured paper. Yupo paper is a specialty paper that is often used for greeting cards and other paper art. 

Dye Based Ink


Dye-based ink is the workhorse of most papercraft projects. It's a quick-drying ink that is most often used in stamping projects. The ink is suspended on a hard felt pad. The ink soaks into the fiber of the paper, rather than sitting on top of it.  This helps you get a clear impression when you are using your stamps. They come in almost any color imaginable in all kinds of ink pad sizes and shape

What You Should Know About Dye Inks

  • They are best used with lighter color paper. They can be used for card making and stamping. You can create watercolor effects with them. They are fun to layer.
  • They are smooth and crisp
  • You can use dye based inks with alcohol markers. 
  • They are translucent and vibrant
  • Some of these inks are waterproof, others are not. So if you are planning to watercolor on a stamped image, you need to be sure that the ink is marked, waterproof or permanent. Otherwise, the ink will bleed when water is used. 
  • Dye inks are absorbed into paper. They literally dye the paper
  • They are water-based and acid-free. 
  • Some dye inks will fade over time, so if you are working on a project that you want to keep for a while, or you are creating a scrapbook page, you will want to use a dye ink that is marked as archival or fade resistant. It is considered semi-permanent ink. 
  • They are great with porous surfaces. You can use this ink on regular, glossy paper, clear acetate, or metallic paper. You can also use it on glass, plastic, or acrylic ( but you must allow it to dry for several days)
  • This is a basic type of each that is very easy to use, especially for beginners.
  • They dry quickly
  • They do not smudge.

Types of Dye Based Inks

  1. Distress inks are dye based inks that have a high concentration of color. They have a longer drying time than most dye based inks. They can be mixed with water for different techniques. Especially good with altered art and distress techniques. They are slower to dry than water-based dye inks. Distress inks are in the spectrum of dye inks. They are transparent inks. Because they are thin inks, they dry quickly. They come in mini inks pads as well as standard 3" by 3" pads. They are reactive with water that makes them very versatile. The fun thing about distress inks is that they blend beautifully because they take longer to dry. 
  2. Water-based dye inks are transparent inks. That property makes them ideal for light card stock. They are quick-drying inks so they cannot be used for embossing. They cannot be used with any water-based products like watercolor pencils, they will bleed. 
  3. Waterproof dye inks are far more colorfast than other dye inks. They will not bleed if you color over them.

Pigment Ink

Pigment inks are considered one of the more vibrant inks. You will notice that they are opaque and will appear on your paper exactly the same way they look on the pad. They have a glycerin base which makes them heavier than other inks. Instead of soaking into the paper, they sit on top. They are fade-resistant but take longer to dry. So, you can use a heat tool to speed up the drying time.

What You Should Know About Pigment Inks

  • Because of their heavier properties, they will not dry on glossy or coated paper. 
  • They are s rich, thick vibrant ink
  • They have a glycerin base and are water-resistant.
  • Pigment inks are slow drying and are most often used as embossing inks. This is where a stamped image has embossing powder applied over a pigment ink stamped image. The powder is dried with a heat gun. 
  • They sit on top of the paper rather than soaking into it.
  • They are generally sold on spongy pads. Beware of over-soaking your stamps.
  • They are acid-free
  • Pigment inks are considered archival and long-lasting.
  • Try using these inks on black paper, just for fun. If you use white pigment ink on black paper, you will get a chalk-like appearance.

Types of Pigment Inks

VersaMark inks are one of the most popular inks in this category. It is a clear pigment ink specifically for use in embossing. 

Chalk inks are also considered pigment ink. They have a powdery matte finish. They have the vibrance of pigment ink but can be blended like dye-based ink.

Alcohol inks are pigment inks designed to have a polished stone effect. They are quick-drying and permanent. They can be used on glossy paper, acetate, shrink plastic, foil, and metal.

Uses For Pigment Inks

  1. Handmade cards
  2. Scrapbook pages
  3. Art Journal covers
  4. Bullet journal page
  5. Mixed media art
  6. DIY home decor
  7. Gift boxes
  8. Personalized t-shirt
  9. Handmade tags
  10. DIY bookmarks
  11. Customized pillowcase
  12. DIY canvas drawstring bag

Chalk Inks

Chalk inks act like pigment ink but have a chalkier finish. They are considered a type of hybrid ink. 

What You Should Know About Chalk Inks

  • It dries quickly and is considered permanent when heat dried. 
  • Works very well when stamped on darker paper. 
  • They are good to use for stamping and scrapbooking. 
  • This ink offers a lot of durabilities
  • They are resitant to smearing, adding, and even moisture
  • Like pigment ink, it actually sits on top of the paper

Recommended Uses

  1. Stamping or inking on dark colored cardstock


Solvent Inks

What You Should Know About Solvent Ink Pads

  • Solvent ink will bleed when it comes into contact with alcohol-based ink like you’d find in a Copic marker. It also dries quickly, so it’s not suitable for embossing.
  • Solvent inks are quick-drying inks that are considered permanent. They can be used on paper, acetate, glass, and metal, and even wood
  • It sticks to the surface it is applied to and in most cases. would be considered permanent.
  • Stazon is one of the most popular solvent inks. These ink pads come with plastic inner liners. Always keep these liners on the pad when not in use. That will help keep the pad from drying out.
  • They are permanent and do not require any heat to get them to dry
  • It should be noted that some stamp manufacturers advise not to use them with clear acrylic stamps as they will damage the stamp over a period of time.

Recommended Uses

  1. Stamping or inking on coated or glossy paper and other nonporous items


Hybrid Inks

What You Should Know About Hybrid Inks

  • Hybrid inks are quick drying inks  
  • They are a cross between pigment ink and dye ink. 
  • They are considered opaque ink. 
  • They generally work well on all surfaces. Works especially well on glass, paper, and fabric. 
  • They cannot be used for embossing.

Recommended Uses

  1. Stamping on glass, paper or fabric

Distress And Distress Oxide Inks

These inks are more pigment ink than any other. They also have dye ink in them so they are considered hybrid ink, They are considered opaque inks and are thicker, That means that they will dry slower.

The nice thing about both of these inks is that they can be used with water to create artful techniques. One thing to consider when doing water techniques is the quality of your paper. Some papers are more porous than others. So before you start with water techniques with these inks, test the paper to make sure that it will handle wet application. Just spritz a piece of the paper and see how it reacts.

When using water techniques you can allow the ink to air dry or use a heat gun.

Both Distress and Distress Oxide Inks can be used as embossing inks. By using clear oxide powders, you can create amazing hues of color.

Both inks come in 3" by 3" sizes. The Distress inks also come in mini cubes that come in 1" by1" too. 

Using Distress Inks As Watercolors

As we said, these inks can be used with water, so you can use them just as you would with watercolors. Use a plastic palette and drop a single drop in each palette slot. Both Distress Inks and Distress Oxide Reinkers can be used in place of watercolors.

Tip-Because Distress oxides are thicker than Distress Inks, make sure that you shake your Oxide Reinker ( with the cap secured) before dropping it on your palette. That makes sure that the pigment ink fusion is blended,

Distress Inks

Distress inks are more dye ink than pigment ink. They are transparent. So due to their thinner quality, they dry quicker than the distress oxides. Distress inks appear brighter and more vibrant. 

Distress inks tend to show streaks more than Distress Oxide inks. But when you use the proper blending tool, this really is not much of a problem at all.

Distress Oxides

Distress oxide inks are more pigment ink than dye ink, So they dry slower than the distress inks. They are opaque and have a chalky finish when dry. 

Embossing/Watermark Ink

What You Should Know About Embossing Ink

What You Should Know About Embossing Inks

  • This is a heavy and very sticky ink. 
  • It is usually clear, but can also come in some subtle shimmery shades. 
  • Dries slowly

Recommended Uses

  1. Designed for embossing or subtle watermarks

Spray Inks

Instead of an ink pad, spray inks come in a spray bottle. There are a variety of colors from vibrant shades to subtle hues. 

What You Should Know About Spray Inks

  • Many are dye-based and will often act just like other dye inks.
  •  Especially nice to use with stencils. 
  • They can create watercolor effects and splatter effects. 

Maintaining Your Ink Pads

When not in use, you should always place the cover on your ink pad. Never throw an ink pad away. Most of them have a reinker. This is a bottle of ink that is formulated the exact same way that the ink on the pad is. 

All you have to do is squeeze some of the reinker gently and apply the ink all over the pad. Use an old gift card or credit card, or a heavy piece of scrap paper across the pad until all the ink is soaked into it.

Cleaning Your Ink Pad

On occasion, your ink pad may become contaminated with other inks. Don't get frustrated, it happens. Try blotting the pad with a paper towel till the odd color is off the pad. If that does not work, spritz the pad lightly with ammonia-free window cleaner. Let it sit for a few moments and blot with a paper towel.

Storing Your Ink Pads

Ink pads should be stored level and upside down. This will give you even ink distribution and keeps the surface fully inked. The only ink pads that should not be stored upside down are the pigment inks. They are juicy enough. If you store them upside down, you might get a juicy mess.

Ink pads should only be re inked with the same brand and color that was in the pad originally