Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tutorial: Inks

I am doing a series of StampTalks at lifetimemoments, a basic stamping 101 type thing. This is the first in a series. Today, we’re going to talk about inks.

There are several basic kinds of inks in stamping:

1) Dye inks - this is the most common of the inks. It is a basic fast drying ink. They are very affordable and come in a wide range of colors. Popular brands include Adirondack, Stampin Up!, Close to My Heart, and many others. Ranger’s Distress Inks also fall into this category but they are a slower drying ink that allow for a lot of water manipulation. Check out Tim Holtz’s blog for many techniques with the Distress inks.

Dye inks are my basic go to color inks because they clean up easily with a wetwipe. They often come in a felt pad. These inks are not a long term color fast ink (but that’s very LONG TERM… its fine for every day application). I store my dye pads upside down so the ink stays at the top of the pad. These work best with paper applications.

2) Pigment inks - These are much slower drying, thicker inks that can be made of different components. They are much more color fast. The downside is they take a lot longer to set, which gives rise to potential for smudges. Some absolutely require a heat gun to dry completely. These inks are perfect for embossing. My favorite is to emboss a colored pigment pad with clear powder - it sets the ink and the color but I don’t have to worry about the ink bleeding if I am coloring with another marker. These pads are normally sold with a sponge pad and are very juicy. I store these pads right side up, since they are so juicy already. Pigment inks are typically a little harder to clean - sometimes a wetwipe will work (i.e. Versafine, ClearSnap chalks), but sometimes you need an actual stamp cleaner solution (you can buy these where they sell the inks).

Versafine is an “instant dry” pigment pad (and my favorite…) They come in a fairly limited range of colors, though.

Clearsnap’s Chalk Inks are also a fast drying pigment ink that clean easily. They dry to a matte like finish, and the colors are very nice and the colors sit on top of each other (i.e. they don’t bleed together and muddy up). These also come in a very wide range of colors, from very small pads in the cats eye variety, to mini pads that measure about 1.25×2.25 (I have these), to full size pads.

3) Solvent Inks - The most common of these is Stazon. This is a permanent alcohol based ink that can stamp on any surface, including non-porous surfaces like glass, plastics, metals. These are fabulous for altering buttons or embellishments. You need StazOn cleaner to completely clean this ink off your rubber stamp. This formulation is strong, and I caution against using this ink too much with clear stamps (though I still do use them) and never use the Staz On Cleaner on your clear stamps. Just use a wetwipe and consign yourself to a stained stamp. It’ll still stamp just fine next time you use it.

What ink to use? This depends on your application. If you are hoping to alter something non-porous, your only choice is really the solvent ink. But what about every day stamping - a direct paper to paper card or layout? To me, that is a matter of personal preference. The dye inks have the best range of color and are the most affordable, and the easiest to clean up. The pigment inks last longer in the long run, have a less color range, and take longer and more effort to set.

There is a difference between the stamped image you get using a rubber stamp and a clear acrylic stamp. Rubber stamps carry all the inks very well. A clear acrylic stamp is not as uniform, and the inks definitely “sit” different - I find that it varies slightly among my different brands of stamps. I almost always see a slight “pooling” of the ink that results in a slightly un-solid image. I know many inks say they are formulated for clear stamps. I personally don’t see it.

Below, I test stamped an acrylic stamp using several different inks that I own (CTMH, Adirondack, Archival Ink, Chalk Ink, Distress Ink, Staz On, Memento, Versafine). This is not meant to be exhaustive, as I don’t own all the inks in the market. I purposefully chose a stamp with both fine lines and solid lines so you can see how the inks reach to it -

1 comment:

scrappycandy said...

This was very interesting. I read somewhere that you have to "prepare" a clear stamp before you use it the first time. It eliminates ink "sitting" or pooling on parts of the stamp. The preparation involves rubbing it on paper and doing several stampings. I've never tried it, but it makes sense. However, the best stamps are made of rubber, so I've been told.