Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ink Makes a Difference--Enabling Alert

Seeing the coffee cup stamps in the new Hero Arts Catalog sent me to my stash for similar stamps. I pulled out PTI's Warm Happiness and Faux Ribbon and started playing.

The first card I made actually had a colored base (I'll show it later this week), but I wanted to make a one-layer version of it. Here's my first attempt at one layer, which we can all agree has some areas for improvement:

The layout is nice and balanced, and I love how the ribbon stamp grounds the design, but notice how spotty the ink looks. I used SU cool caribbean and close to cocoa. Often I DO get good results with clear stamps and SU classic ink, but not this time. Not sure how that unevenness got into the bottom of the wide brown ribbon line. Also, the cool caribbean is so light that I couldn't really see well to line up the scalloped edge with the flat ribbon stamp, so there is a gap between the two on the left side.

On a heavily embellished card, such a gap might not be noticeable. But on a one-layer card, YIKES!

Simplicity Tip: The ONLY way to use these long, thin ribbon stamps is to use a gridded acrylic block. Lay the stamp face down on your worktop, and lower the gridded block onto the stamp. This way, you can use the lines on the block to line everything up straight. As the above card shows, this technique is not full-proof, but it will work most of the time.

It was worth the effort to try again with different ink. The second version uses VersaColor ink, which is thick and creamy and gives lovely impressions with clear stamps. I used a darker shade of teal (lagoon blue) so I could see the scalloped stamp as I put it down.

As you can see, my aim was much better this time with the scallops, and the colors are much richer and cleaner. The coffee cup is popped on dimensionals. I cut off the handle to give the cup cleaner lines, more like the coffee cup stamps in the Hero catalog. (And also because I'm lazy and it's tedious and hard cutting out the hole in the handle. Just keepin' it real on the ol' blog!)

Another difference between the two cards is how I stamped the steam. For the first, I stamped the very bottom of the steam stamp ON the coffee cup before popping it on the card, and on the second, I didn't. I simply can't make up my mind which version I like better, or even if it makes a difference.

The purpose of this post is to make you feel good about buying different types of ink for different purposes. I find the little cubes and dew drops are a very cost-effective way of getting lots of colors of different inks for different purposes. Of course, make sure you want to DO the different purposes before you invest in the ink, and you can always start small, with just a few pads, to experiment. For instance, I haven't bought any distress inks because I HARDLY EVER DISTRESS ANYTHING.

But I have dozens of VersaColor cubes, VersaMagic dew drops, and Brilliance dew drops. These work great every time with my growing collection of clear stamps, and because I often make OLC's with no colored cardstock, the issue of matching ink and paper doesn't often come up. When I need to be all matchy-matchy, I use SU.

Thank you for reading this long and rambling post. Hopefully, I've enabled you in a good way!


  1. Thanks for enabling! Seriously, though, I have a big jar of versacolor cubes sitting unloved on a shelf, so thanks for the inspiration to give them a whirl again. Also, thanks for the thoughtful reply yesterday!

    Oh, and I love the color combo on this card. Looks good in every season, too!

  2. I love enabler alerts! Love the card and color combination. Your cards always inspire me.

  3. You're welcome, Angela! And good luck applying for the DT!

    Thanks, Wendy!

  4. i love them both too, the color combo is one of my favorites

    i don't have a large collection of different inks and the only colored inks aside from one chalk queue are distress ink

    if i want to stamp with my clear stamps i just load my stamp with versamark before i use the wetter dye inks, i saw the tip in a video and it made sense, the stick versarmark keeps the wetter distress ink from pooling on the clear for me

    also, this the longest comment i've ever left, in my life :)

  5. I hate to have to admit this, but I don't have anything Stampin Up. Is there ink die or pigment? I do have all the Versa's. I find I normally use pigment or hybrid inks on clear stamps. I usually use the Colorbox Chalks. I think this is a great card and I prefer the second one. I also prefer the steam being stamped on the cup. I am not sure why, I guess just personal preference. Thanks for the ink lesson.

  6. Mary Dawn, the versamark trick is really cool!

    Karen, SU sells classic (dye) ink and craft (pigment) ink, and coordinating products (cs, dp, ribbon, etc) to match. It's all top quality stuff. The ColorBox chalk inks are awesome and I have lots of their cat eye pads. Forgot to mention them in the post.

  7. love your card, susan.
    that is a great color combo.
    thanks for the tips about using the ribbon stamps.

    and thank you ladies for all the great tips about inks. i have quite a few SU inks, and feel a bit overwhelmed in the store with all the other options. buying the small cubes is a great idea. i guess i just am in the mode of regular sized inkpads since that's what all my SU ones are. thinking outside my box is good!!

    have a great week!
    marty ferraro

  8. Thanks for all the tips and hints Susan. I love seeing how your cards develop. I love my versacolour cubes as they are nice and juicey for stamping but can also be used alongside watercolour pencils for a soft, 'inky' finish. jo x

  9. What stamper doesn't like to be enabled? lol! I love having all types of inks, and tools, and papers, and stamps, and...oh you get the idea.

    I love the whimsical feel on the first card. Being a perfectionist I can understand why you needed to do another one. But honestly, I fell in love with it's impefection. I think you've just inspired me to go stamp an imperfect card. :)

  10. I like the first card for the steam. I've had the same issues with clear stamps and ink. Red ink, especially can be a problem for me. I don't think I've tried pigment inks on them, though. I have lots of Ranger Distress Inks but I didn't realize it was for distressing. I use them as I do other inks. Hey! What a great tip on placing the clear stamp on the grid. I always have trouble getting the ribbon ones on straight. Thank you!

  11. Great tips Susan! I really appreciate how you share your process of experimenting while stamping and what the outcome is (especially with clear stamps). The colours on the 2nd card are so much better and I prefer the steam stamped on the cup, seems more realistic!

  12. LOVE this card - you've inspired me to go pull my coffee set as another Valentine's card today - TFS!

    I think I prefer the steam rising from within the cup ... and a gal can never have too much ink! Am I right or am I right?!

  13. Would you want to slap me if I said I really can't see a difference in the two cards? I like the design and the colors a LOT.

  14. Thanks so much to everyone for all of the tips.
    I have recently noticed trouble grtting the dye inks (mostly SU) to cover properly with acrylic stamps (maybe that is why they do not want to make acrylic stamps??). If you look at the stamp, the ink seems to bead up. I must go and try this with other dye inks that I have.

    Thanks for a great blog, Susan.

  15. No slapping, JoLynn. This is a happy blog, LOL! It's all good.

    Sue, if you're using silicon stamps, you'll get terrible beading with dye ink, although I've heard using versamark ink will help. Silicon is cheap and IMHO icky. Photopolymer will usually take dye ink well, but sometimes a residue from the manufacturing process will make dye ink bead on it. Rub the stamp with a white eraser, clean it well, and the problem will be solved.

    Photopolymer stamps have a definite odor and are much softer than silicone, which are harder and hardly smell at all. I sniff stamps at the store before buying. If they don't smell, I don't buy them.


  16. The second card really does pop that bit more. The design works so well, I like the way your grounded your coffee. (Hehe no pun intended)

  17. Any comment on the difference between the versamagic, brilliance and memento ink. I have the first 2 but didn't know if there are any advantages with the memento ink. Love your blog....alway pick up great ideas. My 2 cents are to have the steam inside the cup.

  18. I have the same problem with getting an even impression with clear stamps and dye based inks. But in the case of your first card, I like the texture that the uneven inking created. I thought it was an "on purpose" until I read your post. Although the cool carribean is pretty, I do like the deeper color blue on the second card.

  19. Sorry, Anonymous, but Idon't know much about Momento Ink. I only have a tuxedo black dewdrop and haven't really used it much. Perhaps someone else will have a tip.

    Everyone, gotcha. Steam inside the cup next time.

    Thanks for all the comments!

  20. I have hundreds of inks-I used to own a Shop so I had to try them all! I really love Colorbox chalk inks for any clear stamps and i am a HUGE fan of memento inks-they have great coverage,rich colors-I use the Tuxedo Black exclusively now for all my outline stamping(or the Rich Cocoa)I still believe Brilliance Moonlit White is the #1 white ink avaiable and also their Gold and Silver are the only ones i will use.
    That being said I still keep all of the inks I try because sometimes the colors vary by company-I use a small stamp to stamp them all on white cardstock by color so i can compare the real color to what project I need it for.Reds are the worst when trying to match up with embelishments and papers!

  21. I have the Faux Ribbon set and seriously would never have thought to use it as a grounding device. Genius!! And I like the coffee steam better in the first card, it looks more like it originated in the cup and less 'floaty'.

  22. What a treasure trove of information, from your blog, Susan, and from all those who commented before me. Thank you all for your opinions and experiences! I think we all are at a loss sometimes, on what color/kind of ink to use on what. Sharing what you already know is so helpful to those of us who don't have as much experience. Thanks to you all!

  23. I love both cards, the colour combination would be one of my favourites. I am glad other people have trouble with SU inks and clear stamps, I thought it was just me being lazy and not cleaning them properly. I will definitely try the versamark trick later on today. Keep up the great blog Susan, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.

  24. Here's a quote from the Carol Duvall Show that should help when our stamping isn't perfect: "All things are literally better, lovelier and more beloved for the imperfections that reflect the human effort that went into their making." Honestly, I would never have noticed the "imperfections" in your first card if you hadn't pointed them out! I enjoy ALL your wonderful cards.

  25. I totally agree with the blotchyness when using SU's classic ink on clear stamps. It drives me bananas! Unfortunately we can't get SU's craft ink here (except in white), so it's difficult to be all matchy-matchy. And I love the description matchy-matchy. It completely describes my obsessive compulsive need to coordinate ink with cardstock. :D
    Perhaps it's time I gave un-matchyness a try.

  26. I'm so lucky to be last........all those tips have made me feel better about my ink troubles, which have always been huge since I began card-making 6 plus years ago. I think because I seem to choose mostly detailed stamps, Versafine is ALWAYS my first choice ink. However, the reinkers are a huge disappointment and are only for Black and Sepia. That makes inking a costly proposition.

    In my zeal to find a substitute black ink, I used EVERY brand on a project of 255 cards I made last month, all the same stamps (3 different ones on each card) black ink only. I gave up! NO brand was good on stormy weather days, on cheap paper, or if heat-set to hurry-up the project. Dye inks began black and faded to charcoal within about two days. Pigment inks also faded, but not as much. I used 3 different papers; cheap, SU Sparkly white (I forget real name) PTI best and Gina K. best, all white. The cost difference between the 4 is really significant, but because I was getting paid for this project, I decided experimenting was more important than containing cost.

    Forget the cheap paper......Susan already warned us about that! No stamp or ink performs well on that stuff. SU felt too light-weight, compared to the others. Gina K. has a glow and seems to grab the ink best, but PTI is a VERY close second. I will use Gina K. for panel cards in the future, but it's too expensive for every-day use on folded cards.

    My resolve is to stamp less and use wet embossing stencils( by Dreamweaver) more, simply because the ink problem has escalated as the economy has pads often arrive dry and the reinkers are not as good as the originals once were. I returned some to Palette, they were so bad, but Palette folks didn't respond, much less offer a refund.

    Sorry this is so long. Such a rant! Thanks for the opportunity, Susan.


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