INK PAD COMPARISONS - Where Do I Start?

Common Rubber Stamp Ink Pads

I printed this information a few years ago from an Ellen Hutson Newsletter.  It has been a big help to me and I am sharing here to help others.  This is an old article (2009) so there may be new vendors who are not listed.   It has been my experience though, that the companies listed still remain industry leaders and are favored by most crafters.
Most common variety of ink pads:
  • Dye
  • Pigment
Other varieties include:
  • Hybrid
  • Solvent
  • Resist, Watermarking and Embossing
  • Glue
  • Tattoo
  • Bleaching
  • Washable
Dye Inks:
  • Dye ink is thinner in consistency than pigment ink and will typically dry more quickly
  • It can be permanent, non-permanent, or permanent only after heat activation - be certain to read individual labels for this information
  • Ink is more "transparent" in nature
    • typically this pad consists of a cloth covered felt pad with a surface raised above the edge of the ink pad container - this characteristic makes it more user friendly when applying the ink pad directly to the paper (DTP)
    • some dye inks, specifically chalk inks, are made of a foam pad with a high density "skin" on top of it - foam pad varieties need to be inked more frequently and are easier to over-ink (see below for more information regarding chalk ink)
    • some recommend storing dye ink pads upside down - this is to keep the ink at the top of the pad. I prefer to store mine right side up and purchase a reinker.   A properly inked pad is one of the most useful tools you own.
    • dye ink pads come in a large variety of colors
    • products that fit within this category:
      • Adirondack Dye Ink Pads, Ranger
      • Ancient Page, Clearsnap/Color Box
      • Archival Ink Pads, Ranger
      • Distress Ink Pads, Ranger
      • Kaleidacolor Dye Ink Pads, Tsukineko
      • Memento Ink Pads, Tsukineko
      • Memories Acid Free Dye Ink Pads, Stewart Superior
      • Vivid, Clearsnap/Color Box
      • Inkadinkado
    • Chalk inks
      • a variety of dye ink pad, but with extensive differences. 
      • provide opaque ink coverage
      • muted chalky look with whitish residue or "chalky look" visible in reinkers
      • Works well with polymer stamps. I have had success using them with red rubber wood block stamps, as well.
      • dye ink typically in a skin-foam ink pad
      • products that fit within this category: 
      • Antiquities, Ranger
      • Fluid Chalk Ink Pads, Clearsnap/Color Box
      • Fresco, Stampa Rosa
      • Memories Chalk Inks, Stewart Superior
      • VersaMagic, Tsukineko
  • Pigment Inks:
    • thick and slow drying on paper
    • more opaque then dye inks
    • most suitable for embossing techniques (embossing powders)
    • may not dry on non-porous surfaces such as plastic or metal
    • may contain glycerin - this ingredient provides increased dry time
    • typically acid-free
    • more fade resistant than dye inks and therefore perhaps more useful in scrapbooks
    • best for stamping on absorbent papers where sharp detail is needed
    • some pigment inks can be heat set for permanence on plastic, vellum or fabric
    • Brilliance inks dry naturally on smooth surfaces such as vellum and/or coated papers, but it can take time
    • pigment pads are typically foam style pads - ink soaks in to the pad, yet ink is available when ready to stamp
    • pigment pads need to be reinked much more regularly than standard dye ink pads
    • due to their "squishy" nature be certain to use a light hand, do not push your stamp in to this variety of ink pad but lightly press ink it on the surface of the foam pad.  Over inking your stamp will result in a "messy" stamped image.  Completely clean your rubber stamp before inking it again. 
    • Products that fit within this category:
      • Adirondack Pigment Ink Pads, Ranger
      • Brilliance Fast Drying Pigment Ink Pads, Tsukineko
      • Color Box Crafters, Clearsnap/Color Box
      • Encore Metallic Pigment Ink Pads, Tsukineko
      • VersaColor Pigment Ink Pads, Tsukineko
      • VersaCraft Ink Pads, Tsukineko (previously known as Fabrico - designed for stamping on fabric, wood, leather, shrink plastic, polymer clay, porcelain)
      • VersaFine Ink Pads, Tsukineko - this natural oil-based pigment ink dries instantly on matte cardstock, providing incredibly fine detail. Advised that no reinkers is needed for this stamp pad because it lasts 3-4 times longer than regular inks. 
      • Pigment Petal Points, Clearsnap/Color Box
      • Rubber Stampede/Paint Pad 
  • Hybrid Inks - Palette by Stewart Superior:
      • combination of dye and pigment ink (does not contain solvents)
      • works on most surfaces including glass, plastic, acetate, metal, fabric and more
      • does not smell bad and is nonflammable
      • dries instantly on paper and porous surfaces; can require heat setting on glossy surfaces and fabrics
      • dries too quickly to be a good embossing ink in most regions of the U.S.
      • raised pad surface
      • fast drying
      • waterproof
    • Solvent Inks:

      • Solvent based inks need a special cleaner and typically have an "odor" to them (example - Staz-On)
      • Opaque and dries on smooth surfaces such as glass, dominos, metal and acetate
      • most common variety available - Staz-On
    • Resist, Watermark, and Embossing Inks:
      • resist ink is designed to resist dye based ink when stamped on glossy or coated papers - will not provide resist effect on standard card stock
      • watermark ink is designed to leave a "watermark" or tone-on-tone effect on standard card stock
      • the sticky nature of watermark inks allows them to be used as embossing powders or to attract pigment powders
      • products that fit within this category:
      • Clear Resist, Ranger
      • Embossing Ink, Ranger
      • Perfect Medium, Ranger
      • VersaMark and VersaMark Dazzle, Tsukineko
    • Specialty Ink Pads:
    • Glue Pads:  Most common varieties available:
        • Essential Glue Pad, Tsukineko
        • Palette Stamp and Stick Glue Pad, Stewart Superior
The ink pad market is constantly advancing as new products are being discovered and so what might be "the word" one day, can instantly change when a new product arrives on the market. Manufacturers are continually striving to produce products that are new and improved. Sometimes it is an old product that gets manufactured with a new look or new packaging; other times it is new technology that has been discovered. This doesn't necessarily make one product better than the next - it only makes it different or perhaps improved.
RANGER INK INDUSTRIES
Distress Ink Pads and Reinkers:
  1. Amazing versatility when it comes to using this ink pad for distress and watercolor techniques.slow drying inks (stay wet longer) allowing you to blend, shade and emboss on photos and paper
  2. Works well for direct to paper (DTP) - apply the ink pad directly to paper to create an aged look
  3. Perfect for distressing papers and coloring photos
  4. Distress ink works well on all types of photos - inkjet, laser, toner copies, regular photos (both matte and glossy) and even can be used to "color" photos. Start by applying a light color using a brayer, DTP or ink blending tool. Blend colors with tool or finger, softening edges. These inks stay wet long enough for you to blend out any lines or marks that other ink pads leave on photos.
  5. The fluidity of this ink allows the color to wick and spread out, traveling across the surface of your paper when spritzed with water. Other dye inks do not "travel" in the same manner. This capacity allows for creating beautiful tone on tone colors.
  6. Color stability - the integrity of these colors remain true after being watered down or heated, allowing for greater color control. Unlike other comparative products that may change color when water is introduced. For example, brown colored dyes will typically break down when water is added, leaving behind pink or green hues on your paper. Distress inks will not do this.
  7. Work beautifully for watercolor techniques - apply ink directly to stamp, spritz with water and stamp or apply by using a droplet of ink and a watercolor brush.
  8. To distress papers apply ink directly to paper, spritz with water, crumple and tear. Heat to dry for greater color/tone control and contrast.
  9. Create a charcoal sketch effect stamp image inked with Black Soot, then lightly spritz with water.
  10. Place a few drops of distress ink or apply an ink pad direct to a Teflon sheet. Spritz with water and then pull cardstock through mixture; swirling, pulling, drying and then applying a new layer will provide many unique looks.
Adirondack Dye Ink Pads and Reinkers
    1. Clean lines when used with Copic Markers, coupled together with a fast drying time. 
    2. Non-toxic, fast drying ink
    3. Large color variety:
    4. Lights - great for shadow stamping or tone-on-tone stamping
    5. Brights - vibrant colors
    6. Earthtones - luscious colors, some of my first favorites!
    7. Pitch Black and Espresso do not bleed when stamped on Neenah cardstock and allowed approximately a minute to dry before coloring with Copic Markers
    Adirondack Pigment Ink Pads
    1. In looking for a white pigment ink that had full opaque coverage when stamping on colored cardstock.
    2. Acid free, non-toxic, archival
    3. Rich, opaque ink
    4. Air dries on matte papers
    5. Embossable
    6. Heat set on gloss paper, vellum, mica, shrink plastic, metal and glass
    7. Be certain to replace the liner before replacing lid for added protection against drying out
    Archival Ink Pad and Reinker
    1. This ink pad is a definite "go to" when it comes to black ink due to its versatility in use on many surfaces. As well, it is useful for numerous specialty techniques.
    2. Acid-free, permanent, dye ink
    3. Oil-based making it a perfect ink for stamping over alcohol-ink applications (please note that I said stamping OVER - this ink is not recommended for stamping images and then coloring these images in with alcohol based markers)
    4. Great for using with watercolors and/or water based markers, due to being waterproof
    5. Great for resist methods on coated paper
    6. Does not deteriorate paper or precious photos
    7. Does not bleed when painted or brayered over with watercolors, colored pencils, water-based inks and markers, or pearl pigments
    8. Acts as a "resist" when stamped on surfaces that are not porous such as glass. Archival Ink seems to literally "eat" the alcohol ink when alcohol ink is applies to glass, allowed to dry and then stamped with an image inked in Archival Ink - watch for more to come on this technique.
    Perfect Medium Ink Pads, Markers and Reinkers
    1. This ink pad was specially developed to work with Perfect Pearls Pigments and when used in conjunction with these powders gives superior results to other pad varieties. Who can resist the beautiful "glimmery mist" you can create using these powders? I can never just have one use for a product though and wanted to be able to maximize the use of the Perfect Pearls by having an ink pad that would work in conjunction with these beauties.
    2. Great for resist, embossing or watermark effects
    3. Wonderful for shadow stamping and subtle background work when combined with Perfect Pearls
    Stewart Superior Ink Products
      1. Palette Hybrid Ink Pads
      2. This is my go-to ink for stamping on "unusual" surfaces. I also use it frequently when I watercolor.
      3. Waterproof
      4. Use on any surface - glass, metal, fabric, wood and more
      5. Acid free, archival and non-fading
      TSUKINEKO INK PRODUCTS:
      Memento Ink Pads
        1. Clean lines when used with Copic Markers, coupled together with its fast drying time.
        2. Fast drying dye based ink 
        3. Fade resistant
        4. Delivers fine impressions and even coverage 
        Essential Glue Pad

          1.  This glue pad has provided superior adhesion to any other brands I have tried
          2.  Adhesive in an ink pad
          3. Allows you to stamp an image and cover it in glitter, chalk, pigment powders, foil or flocking
          Brilliance Pigment Ink Pads:  

          1. A pigment ink that would work with Copic Markers for customers who want to work with Copic Markers on a more porous paper.
            1. Non-toxic, archival and acid 
            2. freefast drying pigment inkpigment ink that dries naturally on vellum and glossy paper (no heat setting required - just time)
            3. vibrant, rich color
            4. Great for stamping on vellum, shrink plastic, gloss paper, polymer clay, acetate, leather and mica
            5. Not great on metal
          VersaMark Ink Pads, VersaMarkers and VersaMark Dazzle Ink Pads and Reinkers
          Perfect for creating watermark effects, coupled together with the sparkle that is now available makes it irresistable.
            1. Watermark - beautiful tone-on-tone effect on cardstock that is colored all the way through
            2. Emboss - long dry time allows for ease in use with embossing powdersresists ink on glossy or coated papersheat set for stronger 
            3. Resist effect and quicker dry times 
            4. Dazzle - use as a shimmery watermark or heat set on glossy paper and brayer over with dye ink for a beautiful shimmer resist. I have found that it is necessary to reink this pad frequently for best results.
          CLEANING RUBBER STAMPS
          Now that you are all inky, what is the best way to get your rubber stamps clean? For me the exploration for cleaning tools ended when I discovered Stewart Superior Inks Ultra Clean. It is like magic in a bottle!  
          This is a stamp before UltraClean and then after. Pictures truly are worth a thousand words. There are two products I use to clean my stamps in addition to water and they are:
          Rubit-Scrubit Pad

          AS A BEGINNING STAMPER WHAT DO I NEED?

          1. start with a multi-purpose black ink pad:
            • When using alcohol ink markers, begin with either a Memento Tuxedo Black Ink Pad or an Adirondack Dye Pitch Black Ink Pad  
            • When wanting to watercolor, begin with either a Palette Noir Ink Pad or an Archival Jet Black Ink Pad
          2. Purchase a watermark, resist, embossing pad such as VersaMark or Perfect Medium
          3. Begin to add colors, and add more colors, and then even more colors. - 




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