Saturday, April 9, 2016

Trying New Inks Leads to Thinking

Hero Arts has released a line of bold, hybrid inks that I just had to try. Plus, Joan did an ink comparison using Hero Arts Intense black that intrigued me. So my latest order of goodies from Simon Says Stamp included these three inks:

Here's a card I made with the hybrids, though I used Memento Luxe tuxedo black for the sentiment.

The tangerine stamped fine on the first try, but the deep ocean required two impressions to look good, which got me thinking.

Thinking is a dangerous pastime.

For a while now, I've accepted that individual results WILL vary when it comes to ink. I adore beyond words the performance of my Memento Luxe tuxedo black ink, but Joan hates that ink. Now, Joan is no newbie to stamping, so it's not like she's "not doing it right." The ink just works differently for her. She loves Versafine black, but I threw mine in the trash out of frustration (or sold it in a grab box...honestly, I don't remember). I'm no newbie, either.

Inks also work differently on different papers. For example, I hated using StampinUp's real red on their whisper white card stock because it took forever (read days) to dry and I always smeared it, but when I used it on Papertrey's stampers select white, it dried quickly and is by far my favorite red ink EVER.

Some inks, like most of the Hero Arts shadow inks, work great with block stamps but not so cleanly with outline stamps. Some pigment and chalk inks work awesomely with outline images while I find getting even coverage with them on block stamps a huge challenge.

I've even had different results from different colors in the same ink line. Some Impress Fresh Inks, for example, dry very, very slowly (if at all) on the Papertrey white paper I use most. Other colors dry in a blink on the same paper. And on the above card, the tangerine looked fine, but the deep ocean didn't.

What is going on here?

I have no idea, but that doesn't stop me from speculating.

To test my speculations, I pulled out my new MFT set Circle Scribble Flowers, which contains an outline and block stamp for each image. This was perfect for comparing the ink performances. Here's what happened.

A few things to note on the the blues. The Hero Arts Bold Ink ocean deep looks fine with the outline stamp, but the block is sort of ugly. The blotchy results might have smoothed out with a second inked impression, but really, we shouldn't have to do that. The VersaMagic Ocean Depth looks AMAZING with the outline image but the block image is uneven, despite careful inking of the stamp. The Memento Luxe teal zeal looks AMAZING with both the outline and block images.

But both the Memento and VersaMagic lines lack a bright, bold ocean blue shade. Could it be that the pigment that gives us that amazing shade of blue is creating the problem? I wonder. Because the tangerine Hero Arts Bold ink looks fine. See?

On close-up, it's easy to see that the hybrid orange doesn't work as well as the utterly perfect shadow ink on block stamps, but it is nowhere near the badness of the deep ocean. I consider that hybrid orange block image to be acceptable. The hybrid, however, works better than the shadow ink for the outline image. For sure.

Now for the blacks.

For a nice, rich black, I really, really, really love Memento Luxe tuxedo black. The Hero Arts Intensive Black looks gray in my picture, and the results with a sentiment (my major use of black ink) are not as crisp...but not too bad, either.

So what are my conclusions? First, I suspect that any ink purchase whatsoever is pretty much a crap shoot. You might find something you love and can't live without, or you might want to throw your purchase in the trash. Reviews like mine or Joan's are fascinating and somewhat helpful, but please ALWAYS remember that INDIVIDUAL RESULTS WILL VARY. Using different paper, different stamps, different pressures WILL yield different results. Also, I suspect humidity, age of pads, level of inking, and nature of different pigments are also wild-card variables.

Inks, like life, teach us to be flexible and to deal with disappointment. My recommendation, if you want to try a new line of inks, is to start cautiously, as I have here. Just a few colors (two complementary shades are a nice place to start). Don't buy the whole new line right off the bat.

Also, while the Hero Arts Bold Ink ocean deep isn't performing as well as I hoped on the larger block stamps, there are some hbrid colors that look very different from others in my stash that I will still try. The tangerine is almost exactly the same shade as the orange soda, which is disappointing because online on my computer screen it looked darker. But no matter. It clearly stamps outline images better than the orange soda, so I'll use it.

For those of you operating on a shoestring budget, I suggest seriously limiting your ink purchases to colors you will actually use in formulas for the stamps you most often use (outline or image).

For those of us whose husbands have expensive hobbies and thus feel freer spending more money (to keep things fair, you know...;-)), buy what looks pretty and give it a shot!

stamps: CAS-ual Fridays Sunbeams; Papertrey Faux Ribbon
ink: Hero Arts Bold deep ocean and tangerine; Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, corner rounder, glue, Stickles 


  1. you crack me up. my mom used to tell me I thought too much. we are sisters! Love your comparisons. Ink is meant to torture us!

  2. I like your sentiment ... Buy what looks pretty and give it a shot!!!

    Thanks so much for your ink review


  3. I do think there is a famous quote about thinking being dangerous. And learning, and certainly experimenting. You didn't compare them with rubber vs. acrylic or whatever the MFT stamp is -- I'd get up from my cozy couch under my blanket I've had since freshman year of college (1978), but it's 31 degrees outside today here in Alexandria VA and I'm sitting by a sliding glass door (no mere window just so you know) and I'm not willing to do that even for this thought experiment, as important as it is! I believe this is why certain cultures refuse to educate women -- they discover things!!

  4. Ha! And invent them -- the Misti just came to mind! :)

  5. I enjoyed the fruits of your thinking and experimenting, but I must confess that I just look at all the lines and splotches and think "Ooooh - pretty"!

  6. I totally agree with your feelings on inks. Some colors/formulas work better with some papers/stamps, etc. Guess we just have to buy them all. :)

    Oh yes, and your comment "feel freer spending more money (to keep things fair, you know...)" We have that at our house. We call it 'retaliatory spending'. :)

  7. Interesting conclusions. I hate black memento ink but love versafine. I find I get mixed results sometimes depending on my mood hahaha meow mad is that! X

  8. Fabulous read! I enjoyed hearing and seeing about your experiments with ink. Like adhesives and organizing systems ultimately we need to work with what suits us. It is great to see and hear what others are up to and maybe even try it out a bit, but working with what you love is best. There is no right or wrong.

    When it comes to ink I find it's best to buy the reinker because ultimately I'll need it (or wish I had it). Many of my long distance stamp pals have never purchased a reinker in their life. I suspect the difference is their living in more humid climates compared to my dry southwestern desert.

  9. Great card, as always. Thanks for the ink comparison. And I can tell you what happened to your Versafine Onyx Black ink pad - it went in a grab box to me:) I LOVE that ink, and gave it to my daughter-in-law since I already had one, with reinker. :)


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!