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Ink Pad Basics-Tips And Ideas

Updated on August 13, 2019
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Craft Ink Basics

Have you ever been to a craft store or online and found yourself staring at all the craft inks wondering which one to use for which project? Have you been working on a project only to find yourself frustrated because the ink that you were using just did not work the way you thought it should? Don't fret, we are going to take the mystery out of craft inks so that all your projects come out exactly as they should.

There are so many inks and ink pads available. It can be confusing when you get started looking at the colors and all the names ! When you are investing in ink pads, the best option is to buy ink pads that have re-inkers available. That way you can keep the pads you have and only add the ink as you need them. It's good for the environment and more economical too.

Always start with the basic colors. You will find that you will use black and brown a lot in your stamping and paper projects.

Many companies are making their own versions of various types of ink pads. though they may call their ink pads by another name. they will generally provide a description of the type of ink and the properties of the ink. Make sure that you understand what you are buying

Craft Inkpad Sizes

Craft ink pads come in many different shapes and sizes. Some only come in one size.

Mini Cube

The smallest size is the mini cube or ink cube size. This is a 1.25" by 1.25". These are small and easy to store. They often come in packs of 4 as a color set or range of colors. These are great when you are just starting out in stamping or have limited storage space.

Dew Drops

The dew drop inks are also small and often come in sets. These inks are sold as singles or in sets. They measure 1.874 by 1.241 by 0.857-inch and have a dew drop shape. There are a variety of inks that come in this shape including dye inks, Momento inks and chalk inks

Midi Pads

Some inks are in square pads. These pads measure 2-1/4x2-1/4 inch ink pad. These are often called midi pads. Some Stazon inks are in midi pads as are some Versafine.

Standard Ink Pads

Standard ink pads are about 3.9 x 2.7 x 0.1 inches. They might vary a little, but that is pretty much the standard for most of the inks you will find.

Extra Large Ink Pads

These ink pads will vary a bit is size, depending on the manufacturer. They can be 41/2 " by 71/4 " all the way up to 5" by 7". These pads are especially useful when you are working with large background stamps.

Size Matters

The size if your ink pad is important when you are storing them. If your craft space is limited, you may decide to go with a smaller ink pad that can be stored in small compartment containers.

Craft Ink Guide

Type Of Ink
Use It For
Drying Time
Clean Up
Water Proof
Pigment Ink
Absorbant paper, direct to paper techniques,color blending,embossing
If embossed
Dye Ink
Projects that need to be permnent and archival
Water or stamp cleaner
Embossing Ink
Embossing and resist techniques
If embossed
Chalk Ink
All papers, shrink plastic, polymer clay, and more
If heat set
Spritz Ink
Paper, chipboard, wood and more
If heat set
Hybrid Ink
Universal ink that can be used on all surfaces
Considered a quick drying ink

Store your ink pads upside down to keep your ink fresher longer. I wrap a rubber band around each ink pad to keep them from drying out

Dye Inks

Dye inks are a water based ink. manly non-permanent and usually come on a felt pad. They are great for basic stamping. They dry fast so they are just right for nice clean images on your card stock. They can also come in a linen or sponge type pad. They come in both solid colors as well as multi colored or rainbow pads. They are considered translucent and can be stamped on most paper.

Dye based inks soak into the paper fibers rather than sitting on top of them

Dye inks are one of the fastest drying inks that you can use. It's one of the most popular inks in paper crafts from card making to scrapbooking. The other nice thing about dye inks is that some of them can be used for water color techniques. Always refer to the manufacturers information. They come in a huge range of colors -from pastels to bolds.They can be considered permanent ink on absorbent surfaces

They can be used on porous and glossy papers. Darker colors create an opaque color. Pastels can be combined to create interesting combinations

Dye based inks tend to fade in light, so look for pads marked archival and fade resistant.

You can clean this type of ink off with a baby wipe or water, which means that you can clean your stamps easily

Whenever possible, buy an ink that has refills available. It's more economical and earth friendly, Always buy the refill when you purchase the pads. That way if the color is discontinued, you will have the option of extending the pads life. You also will not run out of ink in the middle of a project

Chalk Inks

Chalk inks are a combination of pigment and dye inks. They produce very subdued hues, but dry quickly. They add a subtle chalk like finish. Chalk inks are very easily blended if it is done before they dry. They are acid free and archival. They retain an opaque crisp color on most papers, even darker colored card stock. Works on vellum, coated and glossy papers as well.They can also be mixed with dye inks

They can be used for stamping and will have a softer look than other inks. Chalk inks are also great for adding a distressed soft distressed look when you run the ink pad along the edges of your paper.

Pigment Inks

Pigment inks are the wetter inks of all of the craft inks. They are perfect for basic stamping. They are thick, creamy and opaque. They usually come on a foam pad.. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. They also offer metallic, pearlescent and chalk finishes.

Rather than soaking into a surface as dye inks do, pigment inks sit on top of the surface.

Beware of over inking with pigment pads since the ink is on a spongy pad.

They can't be used with any other water based coloring products, However you can use colored pencils.

Though they are considered slow drying. some companies have developed a faster drying time, so check the labels for specifics. The drying time will also depend on the weight and texture of the paper or material that you are using.

Pigment inks are also acid free and fade resistant. Useful especially for blending and embossing, they create a vivid color and a crisp stamped impression. You can't use them on glossy or coated papers, as they will not dry. You can use a heat tool to quicken the drying time.

Can also be used with matt card and style stones,.It works on wood, fabrics and many other surfaces

Buy a refill when you purchase an ink pad. That way if the color is discontinued, yoou will be able to extend the life of your ink pad

Embossing Ink Pads

Embossing inks have a thick consistency and dry slowly, so they are perfect when adding embossing powders.

While the properties of the slower drying pigment pads would allow you to emboss, there are actually special clear or very lightly tinted pads just for the purpose of embossing. These clear or very lightly tinted pads are just for techniques using embossing powders. Once the embossing powder is placed on the "ink" it would be dried with a heat gun. The powder and ink dry together and the image is permanent.

Solvent Inks

You may not use solvent inks often, but they are sure handy to have around. These are considered permanent inks. Solvent inks are available in both water and solvent based forms. They dry fast, so no heating setting is necessary. However, it is recommended that you use these inks in a well ventilated area.

They are the most useful inks when used on porous surfaces like metal, shrink plastic, acrylic, cellophane, aluminum foil, leather and glass surfaces.

Solvent inks can be also used on most kinds of cardstock. Is also very good ink to use with vellum papers

You will need a special stamp cleaner to remove solvent inks from any stamps.

Some manufacturers do not recommend using solvent inks on clear acrylic stamps as over time they may eat away at the arcylic

Distress Inks

Distress inks have become really popular over the years. They are dye based inks but with a higher color value than regular dye inks. When sprayed with water they will actually flow. They are useful for altered art and distress techniques

New ink pads are always " juicer" so use a light touch. As the pad gets older, you will need to use more pressure when you stamp

Spritzer Inks

They are basically ink in a bottle. Most often used to create backgrounds. They are wet inks that dry relatively easily. You can spray it or use daubers to " daub " it on paper.

You can spray it inside a sink or a cardboard box. You can soak the paper with the ink in a container.

It is a permanent ink so take caution how you use it

Watermark Ink

Watermark ink has no color and leaves a subtle tone on tone image when stamped on darker card stock.. It gives a nice, subtle stamped background for your project. Like dye ink, watermark inks dry very quickly

Hybrid Inks

These are inks that take the guess work out of which ink to use on your projects. It is considered an all purpose ink. It is also considered an non-solvent ink.

Most of them are acid free and non-fading. They are also considered fast drying and long lasting.It dries instantly on paper and porous surfaces and requires a heat-set on glossy surfaces and fabrics.

Fabric And Craft Inks

These inks are generally used for fabric and woos applications. While they are really pigment ink, they would be considered very permanent as long as it is heat set. One of the nicest thing about these inks, is if you make a mistake on fabric application and you have not heat set it, the ink may come out in a washing.

How To make Your Ink Pads Last

You can make your ink pads last longer if you take a few minutes to maintain them. Never throw away a dry ink pad. Re-inkers are available for most of them. These are small bottles of ink that you can use to bring your inkpad back to life.

Re-Inking Your Stamp Pad

Squeeze the re -inker bottle gently to apply the ink evenly over the entire surface of the pad.Use a piece of thick cardboard or an old plastic card to drag any ink still on the surface of the inkpad across till it has been absorbed by the pad

Cleaning up After Using Craft Inks

You might wonder how to clean up after using your craft inks. Your stamps, sponges, and other tools will need to be cleaned up right after use. The two common cleaners for craft inks include water and stamp cleaners. Have them handy by your work space and clean up as you go.

You can use baby wipes to apply your stamp cleaner to a surface. If you are cleaning acrylic or rubber stamps, consider using a stamp cleaner pad to get deep cleaning of your stamps

There are two types of stamp cleaners. Most of these of these cleaners have an applicator top that make them easy to use on stamps.

One is water based. It is generally considered non toxic. Has very little odor. However, because of it's water based property, it will not remove all inks from your stamps or other surfaces.

The second type of cleaner is an all purpose cleaner. This is a stronger cleaner. It will clean just about any ink.

Most of these cleaners have a light scent.

Other Cleaning Tools

Scrubber pads have been around for years. They have two sides. One side is used to apply the cleaner on. The other side is used to scrub the ink off. This is very handy when cleaning stamps

Rub It Scrub It Pad is also a handy tool to have. This is a pad that is used to get in all the nooks and crannies of your stamp. Some people just use Dawn dishwashing soap and this pad to clean their stamps and tools.

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.

Storing Your Ink Pads

Most crafters like to store their ink pads upside down so that the pads are nice and juicy when you go to use them. It's also good to keep the different types of inks together so that you don't get mixed up as to which one is which. Some folks like to store their ink pads in a cassette holder or a shoe box. There are a number of special stamp pad holders that allow you to organize your pads. How you store them is largely dependent on your space and budget

Always make sure that the lid on your ink pad is on very tightly. That will keep the ink on your pad from drying out too quickly

Using Ink Pads-Tips And Ideas

  • Always make sure that your stamp is completely clean before inking it again so that you don't transfer a different color to your pad
  • Make sure that the stamp and the pad are free of any fuzz, lint, glitter or other residue before stamping
  • Always look at the stamp once you have applied the ink to make sure that it is wet and the stamp is completely covered with ink
  • To avoid over-inking your stamps, always take the ink pad to the stamp, tapping it gently onto the surface (instead of pressing the stamp down into the ink pad). This will help you achieve an even coverage of ink and a clean, stamped image.

Keep a package of inexpensive wipes near your work area. They make fast work of cleaning up any spilled ink if you wipe them right away

How to Re Ink Your Ink Pads

At some point, your ink pads will dry out. How will you know when this happens? Well, for one thing, you will not get a solid ink layer when you stamp an image.

You will also know when it is time to re ink your ink pad, when you see that the edges of your pad, appear to be dry. The ink pads are made of felt or foam. When the edges start looking dry, it is time to re-ink.

How To Re-ink Your Ink Pads

  • Protect your work surface-It is important as you re-ink your pads to protect your work surface. Drops and smears may permanently stain your surface. Have a rag or paper towel available for wipe ups.
  • Open the ink pad and coordinating rei-nker.
  • Gently squeeze the liquid ink on the surface of your pad in a zig zag pattern to cover the entire surface- Apply gentle pressure on the reinker bottle to get even and steady flow. Use a zig -zag pattern in one direction and then the other, Make sure that you get edge to edge coverage.
  • If you over ink the pad, use an old gift card or a spatula to spread the ink across the surface of the pad.- If you stamp with an over inked stamp pad, your images will not be crisp and clean. Use the spatula or old gift card to move the ink around the pad. Wipe the excess ink off your tool with a paper towel or rag, move the ink until you are satisfied with the amoubt of ink on the pad.
  • Test the pad with a stamp to ensure the desired coverage and that you get a good impression.

If the pad is really thirsty, you should see the ink being absorbed right away.

After you ink your pad, put a lid on it and set it aside. Do not use right away. Wait for about 10-15 minutes to allow ink to be absorbed into the pad.

© 2016 Linda F Correa

Share Your Thoughts On Craft Inks

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    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      4 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      You are so welcome. Having the right pad for the right purpose makes all your projects easier. Appreciate the pin.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for explaining all the differences between the different types of inks available. I don't buy a lot of ink pads, but I definitely get overwhelmed when going to buy some. And thanks for sharing the information about storing and cleaning up ink. This hub has all the information I need! Pinned to my stamping board. Thanks!


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