Stamping Basics

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About Ink Pads

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

The Basics
There are many colors of ink pads out there but the most versatile are your basic black and brown. StazOn® ink pads are great because they work on both porous and non-porous surfaces and they’re also dark enough to stand out from any color of paper. The opaque white is great on dark papers too.

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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. I never toss out old ink pads—I use them for Direct-To-Paper Inking Techniques, when sometimes all you want is the faintest skim of color along the edge of a card or paper. Often you can get a re-inker to add more ink to you pads.

A word of warning!
Ink is not erasable, so be careful what you touch during and after use. 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 your white shirt, the edge of your card or your face. I always keep a package of baby wipes by my side so I can keep my hands clean.

Types of Ink

Dye-based ink
Dye-based ink is perfect for all kinds of paper. It’s permanent and has a consistency similar to water, so the 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 consistency is more like mayonnaise. 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® is the ultimate permanent ink. It can be used on paper—as well as any non-porous surface, like metal, plastic, glossy paper, 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. 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 some of my all-time favorites 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 great on the Color Me™ papers!

Caring For Your Ink Pads
Your ink pads are one of your most basic stamping supplies, so it’s important to care for them well. It’s easy to make sure they have a long life—here are a few tips.

Put a lid on it
Always put the lid back on your ink pad…even if you’re only stepping away for a minute. You know how life is: You step away for a minute, and the next thing you know you’re coming back the next day—only to find a withering ink pad! For those of us with crowded workspaces, it’s all too easy to accidentally shift a piece of paper or scrap of ribbon onto an open ink pad. And for those of you with small children…well, you know what could happen!
Tip: Put a Zot™ adhesive dot on the plastic liner inside the lid. This will help your liner from drifting away.

Cleaning your inkpads
If an ink pad becomes muddied with another color, tap it off with a paper towel. Still not clean? Spritz lightly with ammonia-free window cleaner, let sit for a few seconds and wipe clean.

Re-inking your ink pads
Many ink pads come with a re-inker, or re-inkers are available. You’ll simply squeeze a few drops over the entire surface of the pad. Use a brayer or the back of a spoon to push the ink into the pad. Test it out to see if you need to add more from the re-inker. If you put too much ink on the pad, gently blot the ink pad with a piece of paper.

Storing Ink Pads
Always store your ink pads upside down. This is to keep the ink on the surface of the pad. You don’t have to do this with pigment inks, which are so juicy that storing them upside down can result in an inky mess.
Store your ink pads in Ink Pad Display Holder, stacking all the similar ink pads together. If the manufacturer hasn’t printed the color on the bottom of the ink pad, write it on with a Sharpie marker so it’s easy to find the right color.

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