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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stamping 101 - Thinking Ink

There are many different types of inks for rubber stamping. These are available in a wide range of colors and pad sizes.

General inks for rubber stamping fall into three categories; dye, pigment or permanent-solvent based. In addition to these, inks have been developed that are technique specific, for instance inks for stamping onto fabric or for use with embossing powders.

Most inks are readily available in a wide range of colors from the deepest blacks to pale pastels. The main features of the inks are as follows:

Dye Based Inks
  • Color fast and quick drying  
  • Good inks for a beginner to use as being fast drying, they are less likely to smudge  
  • Work particularly well with white and light colored papers and boards  
  • Will fade in bright lights  
  • Typically sold with a felt pad

Tip: Store dye based inks upside down so the dye flows to the top of the felt pad.

Pigment Based Inks

  • Thick, rich slow drying inks
  • Color and light fast
  • Good for using with embossing powders
  • Typically sold with a sponge pad

Tip: For faster drying, use your heat gun.


Permanent Solvent Inks  

  • Long lasting and permanent
  • Fast drying with good colors
  • Resilient dye that is suitable for over painting with water colors
  • Can be used on a wide variety of surfaces including glass and wood
  • Solvent based inks need to be used in a well ventilated room
  • May need a special stamp cleaner

Technique Specific Inks

Inks available for specific techniques include:


Embossing Ink – these special inks are clear or translucent and are slow drying. These have been designed specifically for embossing.

Fabric Dyes – pads of inks suitable for stamping on fabric are available in a wide range of colors. These dyes are heat set and have other applications, for example they are great for use on shrink plastic and acetate.

Resist Dyes – these have been formulated to repel water based paints and dyes. Resist inks need to be set using heat and are suitable for a wide range of creative ideas.



Q: What is the difference between pigment ink and dye ink?

A: There are several differences. Dye ink absorbs into the paper; pigment ink sits on top of the paper and does not absorb. Pigment ink tends to be thicker than dye ink and is often preferred for scrapbooking because pigment inks are more resistant to fading than most dye inks. (However, some dye inks are specifically formulated for use in scrapbooks.) The Stampin' Memories section of the Product Guide contains a more detailed explanation of this and other archival topics.


Q: What about drying time and pigment ink?

A: Pigment ink, by nature, dries more slowly than dye inks. You can heat-set the pigment inks to speed drying time or set them aside to dry. After heat-setting, pigment inks will resist all but the most deliberate efforts to smear them (such as wetting your finger and rubbing the ink). If you live in a humid area, you will want to heat-set the inks, because air-drying time increases as humidity increases. Heat-setting and air-drying produce the same color results. When heat-setting, be careful of heating too long, which may cause a scorched look.

Q: Can I use pigment ink for embossing?

A: Because of the longer drying time noted above, you have time to apply your embossing powder without rushing; therefore, the Craft pads are an excellent choice for embossing.


Q: Can I use pigment ink on slick surfaces like tile, porcelain, and terra cotta?

A: Pigment ink will not dry on slick surfaces, even when heat-set. However, if you seal the ink with clear embossing powder, you get a delightful glossy finish. Our recommendation is that this technique be used for decorative purposes only, because the image can be scratched off with your fingernail or metal, but it doesn't rub off with just a gentle rub from your fingertip. So you could use this technique for a decorative tile to hang on a wall, but you wouldn't want to decorate the tiles on your kitchen floor this way.

Q: What about wood?

A: Pigment ink works well on smooth raw wood and on wood already painted with a water-based paint, as long as it is heat-set. After heat-setting, you may choose to spray it with a fixative to add an extra layer of protection.

Q: Can I stamp walls with pigment ink?

A: Results with pigment ink on walls vary depending on texture, finish, and previous paint on the walls. Test on a small portion of unseen wall. If the image is dry after heat-setting, it may be used on the remainder of the wall. Acrylic paints are the best choice for stamping on walls.

Q: Does pigment ink work on fabric?

A: Yes, you can use it for stamping on fabrics. However, colors are less vibrant on fabric than on paper. Also, even after heat-setting, fabric inks fade slightly. This is true not only of our Craft pads but other fabric pads available in the retail market as well. For a more vibrant image, try stamping the same image twice (one on top of the other) using the Stamp-a-ma-jig®. Here are some important tips to remember when stamping on fabric:
  • Prewash the fabric. 
  • Tightly woven and smooth-finished fabrics work best. 
  • Test a small area of fabric first. 
  • Heat-set immediately after stamping. 
  • Wash as normal or hand wash, but air or line dry. 
  • For best results, re-ink pad frequently.

Q: What are some of the many ways to use VersaMark® Ink?

A: As its name suggests, VersaMark is a very versatile ink! The following is a list of some of our favorite uses of this unique ink pad.
  • Two Step Stampin'
Stamp the first image with VersaMark and then the second with an Encore metallic pad. Technique looks best on darker, richer tone card stocks.

  • Embossing

Use the VersaMark pad like you would any of our pigment ink pads in your embossing projects. Because VersaMark is a clear ink, you can use the embossing powder color of your choice without the color of the pigment pad showing through the embossed powder. If you just use clear embossing powder on your colored cardstock, the image will be tone on tone, just a shade darker (and shiny).
  • Embossing with Classic pads

Ink and stamp with one of our Classic Stampin' Pads. Clean the stamp and then ink the same image with VersaMark, stamping directly over the image. Apply clear embossing powder and heat with embossing tool. Note: For best results, use the Stamp-a-ma-jig stamp positioner to help line up the image stamped with Classic pads and the embossed image.
  • Embossing on Glass
Prior to stamping, rub an Embossing Buddy over the stamping surface to resist static. Stamp the image on a glass container with the VersaMark pad and then emboss with detail gold or silver for an elegant touch to any piece of glassware. Note: This technique is recommended for decorative purposes only. Embossed images can scratch off or come off when washed.
  • Poppin' Pastels 
Stamp the image with the VersaMark ink pad on a piece of neutral colored card stock (Whisper White, Very Vanilla, etc.). Apply Stampin' Pastels with sponge daubers, stamping sponge or pastel applicator directly to the ink & watch the color pop.
  • Resist
Stamp on Glossy White card stock with the VersaMark pad. Ink up the rubber brayer in a Classic pad and repeatedly roll over the card stock. Wherever the VersaMark ink was stamped, the card stock resists the colored ink from the brayer.
  • Emboss Resist

Stamp an image with VersaMark ink and emboss with Crystal Clear embossing powder. When the image is cool, sponge one or more colors of Classic ink over and around embossed image. The stamped image will resist the ink.
  • Reverse Pastels
Apply Stampin' Pastels (bright colors work best) to a dark colored card stock (Basic Black, Night of Navy, Chocolate Chip, etc.) and then ink your stamp in Versamark. Stamp over the chalked area. The ink pulls off the color of the chalk, revealing the paper beneath. Be sure to clean the stamp before re-inking as the chalk you removed is now on your stamp and will dirty your VersaMark pad.
  • Watermark
Create a great tone-on-tone effect by stamping in Versamark on a piece of colored card stock. The image appears a deeper shade than the card stock and is perfect for subtle backgrounds.

Tips for Inking Up Your Rubber Stamp and Stamping Your Image:

When inking up your stamp, please do not grind and twist or rock your stamp into the pad!!!

All it takes is a firm tap, tap, tap flatly on the ink pad. Look at the rubber stamp surface to be sure it's completely covered with ink and tap, tap, tap again if necessary.

Why? Grinding and twisting and pushing too hard into the ink pad can damage the ink pad, tear the foam on the stamp, and gets ink all over the wood block! Plus you might end up with ink on the recessed outer edges of the stamp that might show when you stamp your image. Gentle but firm is best, no need to get crazy!

To stamp the image, press straight down and hold for a few seconds to ensure good ink transfer. Do not rock or tilt the stamp back and forth...just press down and hold still. Re-ink the stamp with each new impression for a vivid image.

I hope this week's Stampin' 101 lesson helped answer any questions you may have had.


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