Friday, September 2, 2016

When All Else Fails...

Y'all, there have been hours of effort expending trying to create a video post on ink issues, and truly, the frustration level is off the charts. I really want to get this figured out, but things are getting busy with Ironman Wisconsin approaching. So we're stuck with the old-fashioned written post with pictures to illustrate my point, which will end up taking a fifth of the time I've spent trying to get the video together. I'm just not good, people.


Anyway, here's the problem: light shades of fast-drying pigment inks simply won't dry. A reader had this problem with one of the Impress Fresh Inks last year and never was able to get a satisfactory resolution (that I know of). I wasn't having a problem then, but when I purchased a bunch of light shades earlier this year, boy, howdy did I have the same experience she had.

If two of us are having issues, then it's likely more of you are as well. So let's crowdsource this problem, and perhaps those of us having problems will have solutions instead! Thanks in advance to anyone who can help us!

Please note that OTHER colors in all three lines of ink (Avery Elle, Mama Elephant, and Impress Fresh Ink) dry just fine for me, and I actually love them immoderately. But here are the colors that don't. 

Aren't these colors AWESOME! I thought so, too, until they started giving me fits.

These images were stamped three days ago, and as you can see in the photo of my finger, they are not dry. A chalky residue comes off with even the slightest touch on all the inks. Every. Single. One. The lightest colors smear faintly on the paper, but the pool, island, pixie smear obviously.

Know that I tried heat-setting these inks, with a 20-second blast from the heat gun on each image, and that made absolutely no difference. There are pieces I stamped with these inks over six weeks ago that are still. not. dry.

The only solution I've found that works is to spray a finished piece with Krylon Matte Finish fixative. I dislike this for several reasons. First, it's toxic and must be sprayed in a well-ventilated area. I took my card outside and sprayed it, but a bug flew across the spray, stuck to the card, and left bug residue on the front, ruining it. Ugh. I'm sure the bug wasn't happy, either.

Second, spraying cardstock, even with a very fine spray, will warp the paper. This isn't a deal-killer, but the toxicity and bug residue sure are.

The manufacturers suggested that I was over-inking the stamps, but I disagree. The other colors of the inks dry just fine the way I ink them, and when I experimented with inking less than I usually do, poor quality images resulted...and also never dried.

The manufacturers also suggested that the paper was to blame. I disagree here as well, although with qualifications. My paper-of-choice is Papertrey Ink's stampers select white, which is a porous, uncoated card stock with great absorbency and drying time for every other ink I've ever used on it. If I were using a coated cardstock, I'd agree with the manufacturer; in my experience, inks dry slowly and sometimes not at all on coated card stock. But Papertrey white isn't coated. Neither, to my knowledge, is Neenah solar white, which I also tried, with exactly the same messy results as the Papertrey.

The manufacturers also suggested heat embossing, which I tried, and it worked. Unfortunately, the quality of embossing was disappointing. The ink is chalky but not very sticky, which means the powder didn't stick evenly, and results were blotchy and unpleasant. It's hard to see in the picture, but trust me.

So let's recap.
1. These inks don't dry for me on Papertrey's cardstock or the Neenah solar white.
2. They don't dry for me when heat-set on porous cardstock.
3. I'm not over-inking the stamps.
4. Heat embossing doesn't work well for me.
5. Sealing with a fixative does work, but it's a pain in the patootie and toxic to boot.  

What might be going on here?

To my mind, there are several variables that could be at work here. First, it could be chemistry. The lighter pigments might require formulas that affect drying. This seems possible to me because, as I stated above, other colors of inks in all three lines work great for me without chalky residue.

Second, and less likely, is that these six ink pads are defective. If it were only one or two pads, I'd say this is a possibility, but six pads from three different manufacturers? Not likely.

Third, there might be something environmental at work, perhaps humidity. This summer has been oddly humid here in southwest Ohio. Furthermore, my stamp area is in my walk-out basement. I do run a large dehumidifier nonstop in the basement, but it's not powerful enough to work over the whole large space. Basements are just naturally more humid. Perhaps when winter chill sets in and humidity drops with forced-air heat, matters will improve. But I don't want to wait. I want answers NOW!

*petulant toddler stomping her feet*

There has to be a solution.

If I'm having this problem, perhaps you are as well. And if you're using these inks and NOT having problems, those of us who are having problems would LOVE to hear from you!

What are you doing? What is the climate where you live? What brand and weight of paper are you using? How much ink are you putting on the stamps compared to other colors?

If you are able, please make some suggestions to help us poor, lost souls who just want to make subtle-colored cards! I would be willing to buy a new cardstock or move to the desert. This summer's humidity has been just awful.

And seriously, thank you in advance for your help.


  1. I'm sorry but the only inks I have with that formulation are deep colors. Interested in hearing what other folks say

  2. What cardstock do the manufacturers recommend? I'm sure that they tested a bunch when developing these inks? I'm sorry I can't be of any more help - I have always loved dye inks and never really liked pigment inks for precisely this issue.

  3. They dry better on PTI card stock.

  4. I have this problem with almost all AE and ME pigment inks. I've given looking for the reason why that happens and just zap it with my hair spray. Yep, regular hair spray that would normally hold your hair in a specific look works well for me. I spray it from a distance so I won't over saturate the paper with moisture and sometimes do it two or three times. After it dries, the ink usually isn't 100% smear proof, but at least now you can handle the project normally without fear of smearing it with the lightest touch.

    1. Susan I've heard the cheapest like aqua net, it has lacquer in it. Aerosol

    2. Hi Susan,

      Not being an English native speaker, I am honestly not sure what the difference is (and googling didn't help in this case). My hair spray bottle as a tiny whole at the top, and I push that top down and then a super fine mist comes out.

      I usually try to spray from at least half an arm-length away to make sure the force of the mist coming out isn't "moving" wet ink or dry chalk pastels.

      I usually spray until I notice that the paper is getting moist (not wet!), then stop and wait. Drying takes usually about 1 minute, seldom longer.

      I also just make sure that my translation is correct and the hair spray I am using is also called "hair laquer". Never use for my hair, just for craft room stuff :)

  5. I have some of the same inks along with other light colored pigment inks from the same brands so I stamped a bunch of them out to see if I could reproduce what you found. Drying time was about ½ hour because someone came to the door.

    I did find that seaglass and moonlight both would rub off a bit when swiped with a finger, but I can't characterize that as being "wet". They are definitely not wet. What wipes off is a light powder like chalk. I doubt that any of these colors would truly smear on a card like ink that really is wet will do.

    Paper used: Papertrey white
    Inks: Avery Elle Seaglass
    Mama Elephant Moonlight
    Mama Elephant Winter - almost no chalk residue
    Mama Elephant Blush
    Fresh Ink Limeade - no chalk residue
    Fresh Ink Grapefruit

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for experimenting.

      What sort of climate do you live in?

      For me, the colors do smear...the seaglass and moonlight and pixie are the worst offenders for that. Because they are so light, it's not as noticeable as with darker shades, but it's still worrisome given that cards rub inside envelopes in the mail. How crisp would the stamping look at the other end of the pony express, I wonder. Also, the chalky residue is still sticky for me, not like true chalk.

      I've always said with stamp supplies that individual results will vary. I'm glad these are working satisfactorily for you!

    2. I'm just a couple miles from Canada in the far north of Puget Sound. It's cool & sunny today but it rained yesterday so we're probably humid.

      I don't see any smear of colored residue around the images I stamped from swiping fingers over them so I'm hoping that any card stamped with these inks would arrive at the recipient in good shape. And, as I said, both the image on the paper and what came off on my finger felt dry like chalk.

      For me the slowest drying pigment ink was/is Memories Unicorn.

      Thanks for doing this - I always appreciate when you get into a discussion of what is working and not working for you.

  6. Any spray, such as hairspray will turn your card yellow in a few weeks, will attract dust and if it gets warm or damp in the mail it will glue itself to the envelope. Instead simply use your Buddy to lightly dust the card.

    1. Oh, NO!!!!! Is there no comfort in my misery????

    2. Hi Donna,

      Maybe it depends on the kind of spray you are using? I have been using hairspray on mine (for pigment inks and to set chalk pastel colorations) and usually it takes a few weeks to months until I sent a card. I have never noticed _any_ discoloration on those projects, even after months.

      I usually let them dry really well (doesn't take longer than a minute or two) and then store the cards in a box, most often in a plastic protector (the plastic that new stamp sets come in).

      Maybe if exposed to sunlight for a long time this discoloration happens, or it really depends on the chemical formula of the specific spray.

  7. Hi Susan, I was very interested to read your post, as I have been struggling with Amuse Studios inks ever since I bought them, and I have read (somewhere) that they are the same formulation as the Fresh Ink. I love the colours but they smudge horribly. I have a background that I stamped (one of PTI's multi-step background stamps) quite literally over a year ago and it still smudges. I used Smokey Shadow, quite a dark grey, and Eucalyptus, a medium coloured blue-green. Heat gun doesn't help, other than to buckle the paper (I usually use PTI). All of the colours smudge, which makes me sad because the colours are wonderful and I bought quite a few. I am considering switching to another pigment ink, though it will be expensive. I hesitate to use hair spray as I use my images on scrapbook pages, but I am looking forward to reading more tips from you and your readers. Thank you for bringing this up!

  8. Years ago I had a white pigment ink that never dried. I have always used either the fixative (if it's in the summer and I can go outside) or hairspray. I finally used up the cheap "White Rain" aerosol hairspray that I used for many, many years. Now I'm using the TRESemmé brand that I've had for a long time. I just pulled my sample holiday card from 1998 out of its envelope - no yellowing or discoloring. Just a light coat or two is all you need. It dries very quickly and I've never had any problems with warping. It will be interesting to see what other solutions everyone has come up with.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!