Probably the most important paper arts tool, and the most frustrating and confusing, is ink. Knowing what ink to use for what surface and the chemical properties of the inks will make you a much happier stamper! I get asked lots of "inky questions"...hopefully this will help answer some of yours!
Dye inks, in general, are transparent colors. They are easy clean up, generally acid free but not always fade resistant. If used on something that might get wet, they need to be sealed. (Think tumbled stone coaster)
Water Based: Brands include Ranger Distress, Ranger Adirondack, Memories, India Ink, Marvy Matchables, Stampin Up Classic Ink
These inks are used primarily on papers, come in may colors, are relatively inexpensive. Harder to emboss. Some will dry on vellum. Will not dry on metal, plastic, glass or some coated papers. Use India Ink over water colored backgrounds to avoid smearing.
Solvent Based : Most common brand is StazOn
This will dry on any non-porous surface. Perfect for stamping on metal, glass, acetate, etc. Comes in limited colors, should not be used with Copic markers or Sharpies.
Hybrid : VersaFine, Momento, Pallette
In my opinion the best black, all purpose, stamping on paper, inks. Use Momento for coloring with Copic markers. VersaFine comes in about 12 colors, drys instantly, does not need to be heat set and is great for very detailed images. (I use this almost exclusively). These inks can be embossed but you must work quickly.
Move viscous, opaque inks have a longer dry time and are easy to emboss.
Some properties of common brands are:
Brilliance will dry on vellum, works well over alcohol ink or chalk ink backgrounds
Color Box the best for embossing, comes in many colors
VersaColor not as juicy as Color Box but still very nice ink
Versa Magic drys to a chalk finish
Mica Magic drys to a metallic finish
VersaMark: leaves a watermark impression. Can be used to emboss.
Embossing Ink: Can be clear or lightly colored. Used to emboss and for resist techniques.
Alcohol Ink: Used to color anything non-porous. Makes polished stone backgrounds on glossy paper, great for metal, glass, beads, etc.
Castaway: Color modifier. Lightens dark colors using heat.
So, what do you REALLY need?
The answer can depend on what you plan to color with. I think a good place to start would be:
VersaMark Allows water marks (tone on tone), embossing and can be used to color with chalks
VersaFine Onyx Black Good all purpose inks to color with water based markers, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons, chalks
India Ink If you pan on coloring with watercolor paints or twinkling H2Os
Momento Tuxedo Black if you have invested in Copic Markers
When you are ready to expand into pigment inks or colored dye inks I suggest:
Colorbox for embossing
Ranger Distress Inks for distressing, backgrounds, and fun stamped effects
VersaColor spots an economical way to invest in colored pigment inks
Marvy Matchables economical dye inks
Where do I buy this stuff?
Always try to support your local, independent, stamp or art store. They know about the products they sell, can answer questions and guide you and are usually pretty swell people.
Locally we have:
Stamped Designs in Dover
Wholly Scrap in North Hampton
The Paper Tree in Manchester
Ink About It in Westford, MA
Absolutely Everything in Topsfield, MA
If you can’t find what you need, I can order products for you.
Feel free to email me with your questions or comments about this post!