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January Product Review – Back to Basics! Part One

Ink Pad Review
by: Kim Parkinson, Product Guru

Welcome to 2010!  As we begin this New Year and new decade at StampersQuest, our theme for the year is “Back to Basics.”  I’m sure many of you feel that each New Year brings a renewed sense of inspiration.  If you are anything like me, you take a look at your supplies and say, “Gee, I should use that up.” Or “I wonder what that does – it looked cool when I bought it!” 

Each month, Stamper's Quest will delve into something that both you have or may want to play with and we’ll review it here.   As my first assignment as the Product Guru, I thought I would start my review with something that I’m positive all of us stampers have...  

...Ink pads!

As I looked through my stash to showcase an ink pad, I realized that I have more than I wish to count.  Ink pads come in all shapes, sizes, colors and types.  It seems as if every stamping company has its own – or at least its favorites.  I think I’ve tried just about all of them.   In this two part posting, I’m going to break down the inks by manufacturer to make it easier for all of us.  I know there are other companies out there; these are the specific ones I own.  Some I have just recently purchased and aren’t yet out of their wrappings and some I’ve had for what seems like forever.  This one by Ranger was the very first ink pad I owned…

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Yup, the good ‘ole Van Dyke Brown created by Nick Bantock for Ranger Industries.  I used this brown on everything when I bought it.  Everything I made was distressed.  I went from owning just one ink pad to many:

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And these are just the loose ones I could find!  I know there are more hidden.  If you are anything like me, you probably wonder why you need all these different ink pads.  I’m hoping I can help you figure that out!

Let’s just start with the two basic differences in inks.  Pigment versus Dye ink pads.  Yes, there any many versions and varieties of these, plus there are other multi medium ink pads as well but those may be more manufacturer specific.   So I’ll explain the two most used ones now and go over the others by Manufacturer. 

Pigment Inks:  A pigment based ink stays wet longer.  A pigment inkpad usually has a foam type pad which can be very ‘juicy.’  These pads can leak if left on their sides.  The pigment inks are best used for embossing but can be used as is, or for applications where you want a more vibrant opaque color.  In many cases, they are opaque but some are ‘clear’ and thus transparent.  They range from very vibrant colors, to metallics and chalk inks.  Usually they don’t work well on vellums, glass or metals unless heat set or used as an embosser.  If you question your pigment ink and whether it will work with other markers, try heat setting first.  It may dull the color a little but it will prevent some chemical reactions.  Most times pigment inks are waterproof.  Sometimes these inks come with a ‘barrier’; it’s a small piece of plastic that covers just the foam pad itself.  Keep those!  They help prevent your inks from drying out!

Dye Inks:  A dye based ink dries pretty fast.  There are some on the market that dry slower; those are more of a hybrid ink, or basically a dye ink color suspended in something that allows a longer ‘open’ time – staying wet longer.  Most dye inks dry very fast.  This is probably the most common ink used by stampers today.  The colors are usually lighter and can be slightly transparent.  These inks are not waterproof unless heat set.  Of course there are some exceptions but without testing, be warned that if your card gets wet, the ink may run!  Dye based inks usually have a felt type pad that holds the ink.  They usually can be stored in any direction.  Some people like to store their dye based inks upside down to keep the inks at the top of the pad. I don’t but it may work.   Dye based inks are best suited for paper and porous projects.

Taking a look at each manufacturer, I chose to start with Tsukineko.

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Tsukineko has been around since the 1950’s.  They created the first solvent based ink pad, StazOn,  as well as VersaMark, the first monochromatic inkpad on the market.  Tsukineko offers a wide variety of ink pads in pigment, dye and other crafting mediums.  I stamped each of these on a piece of white paper for you to see what they look like:

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As you can see, each has a different intensity of color.  The first one I tried to stamp with was the original VersaMark WaterMark Stamp Pad.  On white paper it’s next to impossible to see what it looked like as it’s a pigment ink that dries with a watermark look.  So, I used some red chalk to rub over the stamped images so you could see how well the images stamped.  The solid stamp was not completely solid but the image stamp stamped well and you could see all of the design.

The VersaMark Dazzle in Frost and Brilliance in Moonlight White were so hard to see on the white, I stamped all of these on a red cardstock:

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The VersaMark Frost had just a tiny bit of shimmer.  Really without the glare of the sun, looking at it – it doesn’t add much color to your project. The Brilliance Ink did show up much better on the cardstock and had a tiny bit of shimmer to it on the red and no shimmer on the white cardstock.  Of course the best application for the Brilliance is on vellum and coated papers.  This is one of those exceptions where it’s best to use a pigment ink on a different medium than you normally would.  You may need to heat set on the vellum depending on the juiciness of your ink pad.

Tsukineko also makes VersaMagic, VersaColor, Encore, StazOn and Memento Inks.  They do make a few other types as well.  VersaMagic and VersaColor are slightly chalky looking – not a deep coloring.  Neither fared well with the solid stamp but both did reasonably well with the image stamp.  Both of these are pigment based pads.  The VersaMagic is supposed to have an opaque, powdery look and says it can dry on all types of paper, wood, metal, fabric and more.  The VersaColor is best suited for embossing. 

The Encore ink pad was a favorite!  I happen to only own the Silver and it worked wonderfully with both the solid stamp and the image stamp!  This is best used for embossing as well and is very similar to the VersaColor ink pads.  Both the Encore and the VersaColor ink pads come in two different sizes. 

Memento inks come in full size containers as well as in smaller containers called "Dew Drops."  Both fared well with both the solid and image stamps.  The Memento ink is best known now in the stamping world as the number one choice of inks for Copic Markers.  On the correct papers, these inks do not react with the Copic Markers and will not bleed.

 The last Tsukineko ink pad that I own is the StazOn inks.  They come in 31 different colors and are an acid free, archival safe solvent ink pad.  They do come with a barrier on the ink pad that should be kept on when not in use.  The pad is a felt pad similar to a dye based pad but this ink pad is appropriate for almost all surfaces!  It will dry in about 3 minutes on any non-porous surface and it has been specially formulated to work with glass, metal, ceramics, plastics as well as porous surfaces like wood and paper.  It is NOT recommended for fabrics.  Staz On has a tendency to be smelly and it is suggested that you don’t inhale, so be sure to work in a ventilated area when using the ink pad.

 Another company that makes a many different types of ink pads is Stewart Superior.

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Stewart Superior offers a wide range of inks for any type of crafter.  They have broken down their ink pads by two separate lines, the Memories Line or the Palette line. 

The Memories ink pads come in both dye and pigment inks.  They come in large and smaller sized pads.  Stewart Superior has even made Memories ink pads for Hero Arts and other major stamp companies.  

All the Memories Inks, both dye and pigment, fared well in my stamping test.

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I really liked how the Memories Dye Art Print Brown color stamped.  The color was consistent with both the solid stamp and the image stamp.  The Memories Chalk-a-Lot is a pigment based pad and also held up remarkably well with both the solid stamp and the image stamp.   While I can’t remember where I bought each of my stamps, I do seem to remember purchasing the Inkcredible ink pad in the dollar bin at AC Moore, a discount craft store.  This ink didn’t do well with either the solid stamp or the image stamp.  The solid stamp didn’t remain solid and the image stamp ran together.  I had the same results with the Memories Dye Shadow inks made for Hero Arts.  The solid stamp was extremely blotchy and the image was not well defined.

Stewart Superior makes a hybrid ink pad they call the Palette line.  These come in large and small containers.  According to Stewart Superior, a Hybrid ink pad is the ultimate for all crafting surfaces.  It works well on everything yet is not solvent based and doesn’t smell.  It may need to be heat set on some of the non porous surfaces but will dry almost immediately on paper and other porous surfaces.

I own the Palette Hybrid, Noir Black.  It stamped well for the solid stamp – although I believe mine needs to be re-inked as it came out grey.  But as for the image stamp, some of the lines of that cute little Penny Black Hedgehog ran together.  I had the same results with the Palette Metallics.  Again, perhaps my ink pad needed to be re-inked as the Vermillion Glow looked pink to me, not red and there was no metallic look on the white paper.

I did use the Palette Stamp and Stick glue pad with just chalks.  I didn’t heat set for this technique, although you do always want to heat the stamp and stick when using foils, the chalk held well and the ink worked remarkably well considering the pad itself felt almost dry to me.  If I was using the inks as directed with metallic foils, I do believe that each of the lines of that hedgehog would have been outlines and you would have seen the words ‘thanks’ in the solid stamp.

Check back tomorrow as I take a look at several other ink pad manufacturers as well as my recommendations and my disappointments.


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5 Responses »

  1. Thank you for such an in-depth discussion. I, too, own several different brands. It is great to see some comparative reviews.

  2. Awesome - I can't wait until the next installment either.

  3. Lots of great information! Well done, looking forward to part 2.

  4. Hi Kim,

    Great article on ink pads! I still get confused on when to use which type, but now I get it!

  5. Wish I'd have had all this information when I first started stamping. Now I pretty well know about the inks and like you, have a lot of different kinds and colors. Thanks. Edna