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January Product Review – Back to Basics Part Two

Welcome back!  We're going to explore a few more ink pad choices today as well as hear what the final verdict was to my stamping experience.

After my experience with Tsukineko and Stewart Superior, I realized that I had a few small containers of inks in my stash as well.  These small containers are made by Clear Snap and are called Cat’s Eyes.

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Clearsnap began more than 20 years ago in a garage.  They were the first to introduce raised inked surfaces to the world.  They offer pigment, dye, craft and ‘blended’ ink pads.  Clearsnap has many different names for their lines of ink pads as well.  Colorbox, Ancient Page and Top Boss are some of the more widely known ones. 

Clearnap’s “blended” ink pads are listed as the Colorbox Fluid Chalk inks.  These are some of my traveling favorites.  I own several of the stacked Cat’s Eyes and can therefore bring with me a lot of color for very little space!  I stamped French Blue from the Cat’s Eye stack and loved the way it covered the stamp.  The solid image came out perfectly!  Unfortunately the detail in the image stamp ran a little and some of the fur on the hedgehog ran together.

January 2010 StampersQuest Product Review

I had more detail on the hedgehog from the Colorbox pigment and pigment brush pad than on the fluid chalk pad.  Although neither the Colorbox pigment nor pigment brush pad did as good of a job on the solid stamp as the Colorbox Fluid Chalk pad.

Clearsnap’s Ancient Page ink pad is a waterproof dye ink pad.  It doesn’t have the felt pad as most ink pads do but the foam has a solid look to it.  This is not the same foam that a pigment pad has.  Although it’s not the case with mine, I have seen some other Ancient Page ink pads have tears in the foam so I don’t think they are as durable as other pads.   This stamped well with the solid stamp and the image stamp but the coal black was more of a grey black.

Before I move on to the heavy hitting, Ranger Industries, I wanted to just talk a little about consultant based companies and their inks.  Stampin’ Up! and Close To My Heart both have their own brand of inks.  They both have dye and pigment ink choices and both offer inks in several different sizes.  Both claim their inks are exclusive to them and I was unable to find out if their inks were manufactured by an outside source.  The flip top design on both of the ink pads, almost lends itself to the same manufacturer even if the companies are direct competition to one another.  As a matter of fact, I had close to the same results with my color samples.  Both the Stampin’ Up! Classic Rose Red and the Close To My Heart Exclusive Inks in Holiday Red stamped similar.  The solid image was pretty slightly ‘streaky’ looking and the image stamps both faired OK.  Both of the Hedgehog images had parts of the fur run together.

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Stampin’ Up! calls their pigment inks, Craft Inks, while Close To My Heart only lists that you are using a pigment ink with a small font on the front and back of the container.  Both companies make their inks so that the ink pads are upside down when properly stored.  While I haven’t had any personal issues, a good friend of mine just threw away $60 worth of Stampin’ Up! craft ink because they leaked all over her workstation.  Take caution when storing a craft ink upside down.  If it’s juicy, it may leak!

Personally, I have always thought that the Stampin’ Up! Craft Ink in White was THE best choice for a crisp white image.    Close To My Heart’s White Daisy is a close second, although the coloring of White Daisy next to Stampin’ Up’s White shows that White Daisy is a tad more cream colored than pure white.  

One thing to note with Stampin’ Up and Close To My Heart inks is that you really need to know a consultant to purchase these inks.  Other inks are so easily purchased at a local store that unless you sell it – or have a friend that does, these aren’t as easy to find.

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Out of all the inks I’ve written about, the number one ink I reach for when I’m stamping is Ranger’s Archival Ink in Black.  It’s in a container on my work station all the time.  I actually own three of them, just in case I can’t find one!  Of course it’s not always the best ink for the job, but for many of my stamping needs, I find that I love how crisp it stamps and how deep the black is.  Ranger’s Archival Ink comes in several different colors.  It is waterproof and works on many surfaces.  I have used it not just on porous paper but also on glass and metal too.  While it doesn’t dry as quickly as StazOn, it will dry on non porous surfaces.  In my sampling, it held up as I expected.  The solid stamp was exactly as it should be and the image stamp was crisp and you could see the individual fur lines well.

January 2010 StampersQuest Product Review 010

Ranger makes several different lines of inks as well as dye inks, pigment inks and other type ink pads.  One of their more popular lines is Tim Holtz’ Distress Inks.  These inks come in small square containers and currently in 24 different colors.  And out of that 24, if you are looking for just that right shade of brown, chances are good these inks have it.  There are 7 different shades!  When these inks are first opened, they do work with embossing powders – even though they are a dye ink!  They do have a slightly more ‘open’ time than other dye inks.  But that’s when the pad is very juicy.  If you’ve had your pad a while, chances are good you’ll have to re-ink if you’d like to emboss with it.    The Distress Ink pads are mostly used for ‘distressing’ papers and fibers but people have used them for stamping.  In my research, the solid stamp was mostly solid but not always crisp.  The hedgehog ran quite a bit too.  Perhaps this is because of the ‘open’ time for the ink.  The longer the open time with a dye based ink, the more it will soak your paper around it. 

Adirondack is a huge line at Ranger Industries.  They not only offer Adirondack colors in dye inks, pigment inks but in alcohol inks, colorwashes, paints and embossing powders!   All aspects of the line coordinate wonderfully with one another.  The dye inks, some of the pigment inks and paints come in a range of colors in that color palette, each representing a light color, a dark color and a medium color.  Ranger calls these the Lights, Brights and Earthtone colors.  In my sample, I chose an Earthtone Pigment in and an Earthtone Dye ink.  The Adirondack Pigment colors do come with a barrier.  Again, it’s always best to keep these.   In my sample, the Pigment ink did very poorly.  The solid stamp wasn’t solid at all, having next to no solid areas.  The image stamp, while you can tell it’s a hedgehog, his fur ran in several areas.  The Adirondack Dye inks did well in my sampling but I’ve seen better.  The solid stamp was mostly solid but did bleed outside the lines.  As for the image stamp, that fur ran together too.  With 48 colors of Dye inks and 24 colors of Pigment inks, they are a definite competition on the market for ink pads.  When I stamped these images for my sampling, I was very surprised to see the results.  I really was expecting these to be the best.

Ranger’s other lines of inks include Perfect Medium ink, Distress Embossing Ink, Watermark Ink (many of you have may have the older Clear Resist pad) and also the Big and Juicy/Big and Bossy Inks.  The Perfect Medium Ink pad is best used with Perfect Pearls.  If you were to stamp it on a white paper, you might have a small watermark, but it’s best to stick with the pearls with this one.  Perfect Medium has a binder in it that holds on to those Perfect Pearls and keeps them in place!  Ranger’s Distress Embossing Ink looks just like the Distress Ink pads but it is more of a pigment ink.  The foam on the inside smells of cinnamon too!  You can emboss with this pad but it was specially formulated to work with the Distress Embossing Powders.  I own many of these embossing powders but never use them.  Again, it was brought to my attention why when I did the sampling for this review.  Scraping off those release crystals can leave a yucky mess!  Ugh! 

Ranger’s Watermark/Clear Resist ink pad works well.  As a watermark, it left a nice clear image even on white paper!  As a resist pad, it works best on a glossy surface.    I own a Big and Bossy embossing ink pad.  It holds embossing ink in clear or black inks.  I was unable to find this ink pad on the Ranger website, which is disappointing as I thought it worked extremely well!  I used the black side and did emboss with it.  I embossed using the Ranger Antiquities embossing powder in Cement color.  Not only was the solid image solid – and you can read the word wonderfully, but the image stamp looked great too!  Oh well.  Another ink pad I noticed stamped well was the Nick Bantock ink pads.  This, if you remember, was my first ink pad ever.  While the solid stamp looked textured like the felt, the image stamp was crisp and you could see every fur line on that little hedgehog.

Overall, you’ll need to make the choice on which ink pad is your favorite.  I know that after stamping out each of these, there are going to a few I reach for more often in the near future!  My favorites were:

  • Tsukineko’s Encore Ultimate Metallic in Silver
  • Stewart Superior’s Memories Dye ink in Art print Brown and their Memories Chalk-a-lots
  • Clearsnap’s Colorbox Fluid Chalk ink
  • Stampin’ Up’s Craft Ink in White
  • and my old stand- by, Ranger’s Archival ink in Jet Black 

As for those inks that disappointed me:

  • Tsukineko’s Versa Mark Dazzle in Frost
  • Stewart Superior’s Shadow Dye Ink for Hero Arts
  • Stampin' Up and Close To My Heart’s Dye Inks
  • Ranger’s Adirondack Pigment Inks

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8 Responses »

  1. I have read this twice... my brain is still in hyper drive. Once it slows down I might be able to figure it all out.. I do love the information. having been an a SU circle for several years and a former TAC angel and getting things here and there.. well I am never sure what I know and the names of what things are. I do know I have lots of SU inks and reinkers and love them. I also have several of the Brilliance. and 4 different kinds of RED... I really want a good deeep red... any suggestions for that? I do have 5 different blacks and use different ones for different applications. Go figure..

    Kitty thanks for the information on the reinkers vs. copics.. I have not gotten any of the Copics mostly because I am not good at coloring in things. too much of a tremor in my hands.. but good and useful information.

    I am very glad this is on our StampQuest for us to go and refer to as good resource tool. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks Kim for all that valuable information - and the close ups in the photos were a great help to see what you were saying. I love my Archival black too and have started collecting other colours in that range.

    My most favourite black though is versafine onyx black. (Although sorry Susan it is a pigment ink). It sticks to any stamp (sometimes my clear stamps don't like to work with my dye inks - especially the adirondack range (memento seems not so bad) needless to say some stamps don't get used as much because of this) and always gives a clean impression.

  3. WOW, great info. Now my heads spinning. I'm just going to buy your favorites and I should be OK.

  4. Love the distress inks by Ranger..I use them so often and they're available is so many fifferent colors.
    I never knew that SU sold white ink...I'd only seen the Stazon white..will have to talk to my SU Consultant and see if I can get some ordered.

  5. I love inks...I want to stress to any newbies out there that the clearsnap CAT's EYE inks are NOT all chalk ink, some are pigment...you have to be careful and read them. I LOVE the fluid chalk Cat eye's as they dry instantly pretty much. I never travel with pigment ink, as they take forever to dry or must be embossed.

    I will have to try the ranger archival black, as i have yet to use a black that actually comes to be a deep dark black...even the PALETTE HYBRID ink ( which is a mix of dye and pigment ink) Staz on black is darker than Stampin up, or Close to my heart but still not as black as I would like it, I guess I'll have to invest in the archival, does it dry fast?

    as far as SU inks go...in your test, were the ink pads nice and full with ink? the pads have a habit of having "sinky spots" when the pad needs to be replenished a bit, not sure about CTMH. But as a former SU demo, I know that as long as the pad is inked well, you won't have the lines and missing areas.

    How you get the ink on your stamp is the most important thing also...do not rub, but tamp your stamp a few times, in different place on the ink pad. if it is a large stamp, lay the stamp down on a flat, sturdy surface stamp side up, and tam the ink pad on the stamp several times, and in different place on the ink pad.

    Someone told me they have recently switched all ink over to a newr brand, in which I am fuzzy on the name, but I think it might be momento. Has anyone tried those/ and what about any other BLACK inks, anyone have any recommendations...for a NON pigment ink that actually is a deep dark black?

  6. Thanks Kittie! I didn't even scratch the surface about re-inkers, markers and watercolors so it's nice to get another's thoughts on them.


  7. There are some that you talked about that I have never tried, but I do love my CTMH ink pads. There are a couple of them that I have had for probably at least 12 years and I am just now starting to use the re-inkers for them. I have not had any trouble with not getting the details of my stamp with them. I do love the Distress Inks, too. I know what you mean about them being juicy. But I sure like them! Thanks for such a detailed and honest discussion on what is generally available and how they compare with each other. This will be especially helpful for those who are just starting their collection of colors!

  8. Hi Kim, I would like to draw attention to one dye ink use that you did not cover in your article. Although much of the stamping community has gone wild for Copic Markers there is a still a huge number of us that watercolor using brushes and reinkers mixed with water. I was a SU demo for five years and began my watercolor experience using their inks. Once I got my hands on Ranger Adirondack and Distress inks my SU reinker bottles were rarely ever opened again. Distress inks are not just for distressing paper. They are the most lush inks to work work with making image shading and building color a dream. The Adirondack reinkers are just as wonderful. The colors do not separate on the paper when mixed with water. SU dye inks are not near the quality as they separate and allow ugly water lines to appear on the image. Reinkers are the most economical coloring tool out there. I have never ordered a second bottle of any reinker in all my years of watercolor. They seem to last forever as they are so concentrated that just a tiny drop mixed with a little water in the lid of the ink pad will cover lots of image territory. One Copic marker is close to twice the cost of a reinker, lasts just a short time and the refills are very expensive.

    I hope you don't mind that I added my two cents.