Please note that the following, as the rest of this website, is my opinion and my opinion only. Other crafters may disagree with it, so the best recommendation I can give you is always to find out for yourself which ink pads is best for you.

I am often asked which ink pads work better with my stamps. To some it may look a daft question, but it is not. Clear stamps when partnered with certain inks are a bit more tricky than traditional rubber stamps and sometimes makes it can be a bit of hit and miss for new stampers.

I am going to admit that I am not the world best nor a very competent stamper. However, I really enjoy stamping, experimenting and analyzing my results. I have done so, experimenting, for the last seven years so I aware of what works for me, and, as I am not the best stamper, I believe that some crafters can relate to me and my tips.

Stamping Surface

The first thing that we need to consider is that with stamping is that the surface you are stamping on is as important as is the the stamp and the ink you use. ninety five percent of the time I stamp of either thick paper or thin card, and that five percent is divided by acetate -mostly- and metal -rarely. For both of the last cases I will use StazOn, read on to see more details.

For card and paper the best results are obtained by using a smooth white card, such as Craftwork Cards Digital Ultra Smooth Cardstock - in A4, A5 and postcard sizes-  or Personal Impressions Premier Quality Smooth White card -which comes in a ten A4 pack or in a 100 A4 pack. They are my preferred card but by no means are the only ones I use.

Remember that drying time will always vary depending on room temperature and humidity.

Dye based inks

I keep hearing that dye based ink pads are brilliant for beginners. Personally, I don't completely agree. Let me explain, I agree that their felt pad avoids over-inking the stamp, which is one of the first problems of a novice stamper. Over inking an image is really hard to do with a stiff felt pad. However, dye based inks do not offer a very even layer of ink on clear stamps so if you do have a solid image -say one of the Square Essentials- it is going to be hard to get a good impression.

Apart from Distress inks which I love for backgrounds and various techniques are dye based, now I only use Memento dye based inks to stamp as they are the best dye based ones I have ever used, and also work great with solvent based coloring marker pens such as Copics and Promarkers. You can buy them in full size pads or in the dew drops size.

Solvent based ink pads are kind of a derivate from dye based inks as they share many characteristics. What makes them so essential for our tool box is that they will dry on acetate, metal and virtually any other glossy surface as well as paper and card where they dry almost instantly. They are water resistant so they are great for watercolor techniques. Some manufacturers say that solvent ink pads are not ideal for clear stamping as the solvent may damage the components that create the stamp. I have been stamping with solvent based pads such as StazOn or Archival for years and I have not encountered any major issues, other than they do stain the stamp and there is no way to remove the stain, to see an example of this go to the Stamp Tutorial section of Big Sentiments. If you over-ink the stamp they become clear no more. What I would strongly avoid is the traditional StazOn cleaner on the clear stamps as it will stain totally the stamps becoming opaque and probably damaged. Use the newer StazOn cleaner or a baby wipe which will clean the stamp although it may not clear the stain of the solvent ink used.

Pigment ink pads

I have always had a weakness for pigment ink pads. They are better quality per nature than dye based ones as a pigment pad applies a thin layer of pigment over the card that will be long lasting and light resistant, rather than dying the paper like the dye ink do. Pigment inks also offer a much more textured finish, maintain the colour better as they are opaque and they work brilliantly with clear stamps. Traditionally, they are slow dry inks which means that they need some kind of setting, embossing powder, heat set or just patience set -i.e. let them dry on their own time, none of which I excel at. However, there are three types of pigment inks that are in my opinion a great investment as they dry quicker hence need less patience which suits me just fine, those are Chalk Inks, Versafine and Brilliance.

Versafine pads from Tsukineko are, in my opinion, the ones that give best impression specially when having a solid stamp such as the Essential Circles or the Squares. Versafine ink will also condition the stamp, but for me the key feature is that they have a felt pad, which is great to avoid over-inking something easy to do with small stamps. The only draw back from this pads is that they don't have a huge variety of colors, but their Black, Vintage Sepia, Deep Lagoon and Spanish Moss ink pads are essential. They come in regular size pads as well as in 1" cubes that are ideal for value and storage reasons. If you don't have any of them, give them a try.

Brilliance is a lovely pearlescent ink that dries quickly, even on vellum a traditionally really hard surface for pigment inks to dry. Some new pads are very juicy so over inking is very common specially with fine lines and detailed images such as my stamps. You can buy them in full size pads, in rainbow pads that have three colors or the dew drops, my personal favorite size as they are excellent value for money.

Versamagic -the chalk finish ink pads from Tsukineko- do work very well but they take longer to dry. The Fluid chalk inks dry much quicker but don't work that great on clear stamps, a bit of a hit and miss and they tend to stain the clear stamps terribly.

Versamark - I could never do a write up about ink pads without mentioning the pad that every crafter should have in their toolbox. I have tried some of their competition, and trust me, the original is best. There are so many techniques you can do with it that you will soon realize that it is impossible to call yourself a stamper if you do not own one.

All this ink pads can be found in shops all around the country. Dawn Bibby Design Studio, The Glitter Pot and The Craft Barn have a very good selection of ink pads.

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