About Ink Pads

Here’s the warning: If you love color, you will love ink pads! They’re available in so many luscious colors, different types…so exciting, but also sometimes confusing. Here’s a basic primer on types of ink pads, plus tips on using them.

Types of Ink

Dye-based ink: Dye-based ink is perfect for all kinds of paper. It’s permanent and dries quickly. Most are not waterproof, which means you can’t color stamped images with paint, pens or other water-based mediums as the ink will run together. (But colored pencils are perfect!) Many dye-based inks are acid-free, but do fade with time and especially sunlight. Avoid using them on mulberry paper, since they tend to bleed on very absorbent paper.

Pigment ink: Pigment ink is thicker and richer than dye-based ink; the colors are bright and vibrant and the ink pads are spongy. They’re fade-resistant.

Pigment ink doesn’t soak into paper like a dye-based ink; instead, it dries on top. That means the ink takes a little longer to dry on regular paper—but the color will be more vivid. It also means that pigment ink will not dry on glossy paper. If you want to stamp pigment ink on glossy paper, you must heat-set it with an embossing gun for it to dry.

Because pigment ink stays wet for so long, it’s perfect for heat-embossing!

StazOn: StazOn is the ultimate permanent ink. It can be used on paper—as well as any non-porous surface, like metal, plastic, glossy paper, dominos, transparencies, leather, glass and ceramic. It only takes about 3-5 minutes to dry on a non-porous surface. This is an acid-free, archival, fast-drying solvent ink.

Embossing ink: These pads come in clear or tinted ink. They’re used to stamp an image before heat-embossing. The tinted version is great for embossing because you can see where you’ve stamped your image! You can also find embossing pens, which make it easy to emboss details of a stamped image, like lights on a Christmas tree.

Distress inks: Distress Inks are great for their soft colors and special “alterable” possibilities. They’re different from other ink pads: They stay wet longer than other dye-based ink pads, so you can blend and shadow with water or other inks. Tap some on a paper, then spritz it with water and watch the colors spread. They also work well on photos!

New Vs. Old Ink Pads

New ink pads are “juicy” so always use a light touch at first. In time, the ink pad will become a bit drier so you’ll need to use more pressure. And don’t toss out old ink pads—you can either get a refill bottle of the ink or you can use drier ink pads for direct-to-paper techniques, when sometimes all you want is the faintest skim of color along the edge of a card or paper.

A Word of Warning!

Ink is not erasable, so be careful what you touch during and after using ink. Always remember to let your paper dry before handling it or before placing it on another paper. (It generally takes less than a minute to dry.) It’s easy to get ink on your fingers or hands and you don’t want to transfer that to another surface...like your white shirt, the edge of your card or your face. Keep a package of baby wipes by your side so you can keep your hands clean.