Ink Pads and Markers

The Difference Between Dye, Pigment, Craft, and Permanent Inks

Different surfaces require different inks to get the best impression. There are so many types of ink on the market. Here they are "demystified."
  • Dye inks are water based, non-toxic, fairly washable, and many are child safe.
    • Transparent
    • Blend easily
    • Dry quickly on most matte and glossy papers, but will run if wet again.
    • Dye inks do fade over time.
    • Do not always work well on clear stamps.
    • Dye inks are available in pads and markers.
    • New stamps may need to be cleaned first with rubbing alcohol to remove manufacturing release agents before dye inks will work well.
       
  • Archival Dye Inks are waterbased but fast-drying and ideal for use with alcohol markers.
    • These inks include Memento™ by Tsukineko® and Distress Inks or Archival Ink by Ranger®
    • Clean up with normal stamp cleaning methods
    • Designed to be permanent and used with alcohol markers.
    • More archival and fade-resistant
    • Many are available in a wide range of colors in pads and markers.
       
  • Chalk Inks
    • These dye-based inks leave a chalky finish on top of the ink.
    • Provides an interesting effect over large, solid images
    • Can stain stamps, particularly clear stamps, but as long as it's clean this doesn't matter.
    • Work best on paper.
    • Includes ColorBox™ Chalk Ink by Clearsnap® and VersaMagic™ Chalk Ink by Tsukineko®
       
  • Pigment inks are water/glycerin-based, acid free, non-toxic, fade resistant, and more opaque than dye inks.
    • Will not easily wash out of clothing.
    • Will not dry on glossy or non-porous papers without embossing.
    • Once embossed they are permanent and can be safely watercolored.
    • Perfect for Heat Embossing due to their slow-drying nature.
    • Pigment ink is available primarily in pads in a huge range of colors.
    • Almost all Metallic inks and White inks are pigment.
    • Thicker, richer ink is perfect for use with Clear Stamps, providing excellent coverage.
    • Includes VersaColor™ Pigment Inks by Tsukineko® and ColorBox™ Pigment Inks by Clearsnap®
    • Instant Dry Pigment ink like VersaFine™ by Tsukineko® is ideal for use with clear stamps. It will dry on porous surfaces and can be watercolored without embossing or heating.
       
  • Embossing/Watermark Inks are glycerine/water-based, non-toxic, archival.
    • These pads are colorless or lightly tinted and designed to leave a "tone on tone" watermark impression.
    • Perfect for embossing due to their slow-drying nature.
    • Can be used to trap mica or other pigment powders to be sealed with spray fixative later.
    • Include VersaMark™ by Tsukineko®, TopBoss™ by Clearsnap®, or Boss Gloss by Stampendous.
    • Some are available in markers for fine line embossing or embossing fixes.
    • Boss Gloss comes in a bottle with dauber top for creating dots/stripes, or covering large areas.
       
  • Craft inks are acrylic based ink, acid free, non-solvent based, non-toxic, and water soluble until completely dry or heat set.
    • Once dry you can safely watercolor over them.
    • You can use them on fabric, wood, paper mache, foam, leather and a variety of other surfaces.
    • They are ideal for home decor projects.
    • Usually must be heat set to be permanent.
       
  • Permanent inks are solvent, lacquer, alcohol based and require special cleaners to remove from rubber or clear stamps.
    • Permanent and water-resistant on most porous and non-porous surfaces.
    • Quick-drying and ideal for stamping on glass, plastic, metal and fired ceramic pieces.
    • Includes alcohol inks like StazOn.
    • Won’t work for coloring with alcohol based markers because the alcohol in the markers will smear the inks.
    • Likely to stain your stamps. This does not harm the stamp at all. If you can stamp on a wet paper towel, then stamp on a dry paper towel without leaving a mark, your stamp is clean enough. It doesn’t have to “look” clean.
       
  • Markers are ideal for coloring directly on your stamps to make a multi-colored impression.
    • Alcohol and Lacquer based markers will dry too quickly to work well. These include Copic, Spectrum Noir Alcohol Markers, Sharpies, etc.
    • Water-based or pigment-based markers are ideal for this technique
    • Start with the lightest color first to avoid contaminating light markers with darker colors.
    • Color entire image the "huff" on the stamp image so the moisture in your breath will "re-activate" all the colors at once.
    • Stamp by pressing firmly, straight down, over the whole image.
    • Colors can be blended with a water brush after stamping.
    • Water can be spritzed on the stamp before the first stamping to create a watercolor, blurred look. And after the first stamping to create a second impression.

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