Inks and Embossing

What is the difference between dye inks and pigment inks?

Dye inks are fast drying. Pigment inks remain wet so you can add your EP (embossing powder) and heat to create a raised glossy/shiny surface. Notice that when you shop, the dye inks are in no see through cases/compacts and pigment inks have a clear see through top.

Check out the Ink Chart Comparision Guide

Exactly, what is EP?

EP, “embossing powder”, is a finely ground plastic. When melted, it creates bumpy textured 3D raised lines on the inked lines. There are many types of EP but if you are just starting out or on a budget, go with the clear EP. You can use any colored pigment ink with clear EP and the EP takes on the color of the ink.

Embossing Tips and Tricks — The Basics 101 including types of EPs.

What is UTEE?

UTEE, Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel, is a thicker larger granule EP. When heated, it creates a nice resin finish over your work when applied in several layers. Start off with a small piece of mat board (get some for free at the framers), DTP with pigment, over stamp, add the UTEE and heat, while warm, add more UTEE and heat. Three layers is good. While UTEE is warm, you can embed charms or Beedz and sprinkle some glitter or mica powder on it. Tip: To prevent UTEE from flying around while heating, put it in a foil lined box a bit bigger than what you are working on. Don’t touch hot UTEE either, you could burn yourself. Globs of excess UTEE can be reused just by reheating

Help! My EP is not sticking to my ink!

Ok, this is common. Make sure you are using pigment ink not dye ink. Check your ink pad and make sure it is nice and wet (re ink) so it will grab the EP and stick so you can melt it with your heat tool. Sometimes, metallic inks break down also so the EP could be bad from air and humidity exposure. EP does have a shelf life.

My paper/card stock tends to warp or bow with the heat from the heat tool/gun — is that normal?Yes, it is and it will flatten when it cools.  You can also put it under something heavy for a while to flatten it out.  I keep a brick handy and place my card between freezer paper or wax paper then put the brick on it for a while.  Cheaper card stock will do this more frequently than a better brand card stock.

Ink is beading up on my clear acrylic stamp! My images are blurry or don’t stamp evenly — Help!
Here is a whole article/tutorial on successfully using clear acrylic stamps.

Versamark or a Resist pad, which is better?

Glad you are asking for an **opinion**.  I prefer the Versamark (Supposed secret ingredient is “glue” so make sure you wash your stamps thoroughly after use.) so if you don’t have one or the other, get the Versamark. Some ideas: stamp onto colored card stock for a watermark look, add clear EP, heat, then rub chalks over it, brayer over clear EP or brush on some glitter or mica powders and heat set.

I got some tinsel embossing powder and I can’t get it to stick to the paper and the paper gets scorched, any advice?

This is common. Make sure you have a good wet ink pad before you put your EP on so it adheres properly. Make sure your EP is mixed well before sprinkling. You might try adding a bit of regular EP in the same color to your tinsel EP since most tinsel or glitter EPs contain half EP and then half tinsel. Tinsel or glitter in EP don’t actually melt, the EP melts and that is what adheres the tinsel or glitter to the paper. To prevent the scorching, don’t hold your heat tool too close to the paper or hold it there too long.

How do you prevent inks from smearing?

You need to use the right ink for the right type of paper and coloring tools. Pigment ink (slow to dry) will smear when used on glossy or vellum and/or with markers or watercolors. Pigment inks will not smear when used with EP because they are heat set. Dye inks (dry by air) will not smear on glossy. You can always heat set any type of ink to make sure it is dry.

Brillance ink or StazOn ink works great on vellum.

My inks smear or run when I use markers, Copics, or watercolors — what ink should I use?Try using Adirondack Pitch Black, Ranger Archival (recommended by Tim Holtz) or Memento Dye inks and you should not have the issue of smearing.
Do not use StazOn inked images with Copics — they tend to darken your pen tip and contaminating the tip and color.

Help! Metallic inks are hard to clean off my stamps!Run the stamp (rubber die only) under some warm water, gently scrub using a toothbrush or nail brush and some regular dish washing liquid. Rinse well and blot it dry then let it air dry to remove all dampness before storing. Repeat if you need to.

Cleaning stamps? Suggestions please!If you are not buying stamp cleaner in the shop, the product “Simple Green” is our earth friendly green suggestion.
Mix it half and half with water, spritz onto your stamp and then wipe the rubber clean with a soft cloth (old face cloth), paper towels are a waste of money and are used up fast.
A more simple idea is to wet an old facecloth, and wipe the stamp on it to clean it. Stained stamps can be cleaned by using a stamp cleaning solution from the stamp store. Some people use window cleaner but alcohol and ammonia can dry out your rubber fast. It is best to always clean your stamps after use to prevent ink build up that can clump and distort your image on future impressions.
If using baby wipes on rubber, do not use the ones with aloe vera or alcohol.

Help! Inks are staining my stamps!If you bleach stamp, this may reduce the ink staining however, your stamps with use, do get stained over time.

Dried out ink pads — can the be reused?Yes, you can re ink them or if you can use a product to refresh/rehydrate them called Perfect Ink Refresher and it is made by Ranger. It comes in a spray bottle and you just spritz it onto your ink pad to bring it back to life without adding more color. The product works well on water based pads, water based re inkers and rainbow pads.

1. Buy a reinker at the time you buy a stamp pad — colors come and go!

2. Store ink pads upside down to keep ink at the top of the pad.

3. Do not store a pad with multi colors like this or you will have muddy colors.

Gel Pen dry out? Is there a remedy to getting them to work again?

Gel Pens, no matter what brand seem to have a limited lifespan. Here are a few suggestions to try. 1. Remove the ink tube and blow into it. 2. Place the tip of the pen in very warm water for a bit. (Hot water may warp the plastic!) 3. Add 2 cm of mineral spirits or paint thinner into the ink tube with a syringe needle. A couple of other things: not all gel pens are the same and not all from the same company work equally depending on color. There is question to whether they are archival or not. They can be used on Shrink plastic. A heavy tip can help you save time coloring as they color more area in less time. HTH

Ink on shrink plastic that won’t smear?

Ranger 215 a permanent ink works well. This you buy with a blank pad and an ink bottle. You must ink up your pad for each use and keep re inking it because the ink dries very fast so you need to work fast. Other inks to try if you can’t find that one, are Memories, Brilliance, Fabrico fabric ink (comes in colors), Zim ink and the new StazOn. For the ink to grab onto the plastic, try lightly sanding it a bit then stamp on it.

Bleeding ink on my paper/card stock!

If your ink bleeds or feathers on your paper or card stock, it means that the paper is very porous or in some cases, you have used too much reinker on your pad (sometimes the case, but mostly, poor paper quality). There is nothing you can do about a bad impression except get better quality paper or card stock to use the next stamp shop visit.

Can you stamp with acrylic paints?Yes! Brush (foam brush) the paint on but don’t saturate the stamp. Too much paint can blur the image. If you are stamping on walls, make sure you use an extender to thin the paint down and make it more workable. Using straight paint, it will dry too fast on your wall (if you make a mistake) and also your stamp. An extender can help you erase a mistake. Always clean your stamp between impressions! An extender can make cleaning a stamp easier. If you wish to use a pad, get a clean foam one (felt pads don’t absorb so well) and apply your paint (like Lumiere) or glaze to it and use as an ink pad. This works well for heavier textured paints. Make sure you clean you stamps well after using paint. A toothbrush can help get into those nooks and crannies and eliminate build up.

How do you get a white image on colored paper?

Stamp with white ink and emboss with white or clear.

Another idea is doing white on white. This looks very nice on vellum.

What are some good white inks to use?

Colorbox White Ink Pad  (pigment and embossable)

VersaColor White Ink (pigment and embossable)

Blanco White dye ink pad

StazOn White Opaque Ink pad (solvent based ink)**

Brilliance Moonlight White (also Platinum Planet and Starlight Silver, fast drying pearlescent pigment ink, embossable)

Brilliance inks works great on vellum.**

** need special cleaner to clean stamps as these inks have a tendency to stain the stamps


6 responses to “Inks and Embossing

  1. Vicki Goodman

    Thank you so much for all of this really helpful information!

  2. Deann Burnett

    Thank-you so much for all the info. I’m new at embossing and I have learned alot of things by reading this. Thanks again. *Deann*

  3. Diane Mitchell

    I have finally found the website I have been looking for a long time. Thank you so much for the work you did to compile all of your knowledge in a clear way so that those of us that “don’t know squat” can successfully attempt new techniques. Again, thank you.

  4. Pingback: Card Ideas: Mother’s Day Cards | On a Gloomy Day

  5. D

    Great info for both beginners and advanced. Thanks!

  6. Bijoux

    Thank you for all sharing these tips. I am so glad I came across your site. So very informative. You covered most all my questions I have been seeking answers to. It is confusing enough when you are new to stamping.
    Very appreciative.

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