Handy Hippo Crafts

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Choosing the Perfect Ink Pad for You

There are a bewildering number of choices when it comes to ink pads for rubber stamping. Different effects, different ink types, different colours, different drying times, different sizes - how do you choose the right one? Below we will answer your most common questions to help you choose the perfect ink for your next project...

What do I need to colour in a stamp, so it looks like the picture on the front?

To create this kind of look, you will normally need to colour in the design using water based paints. You can use watercolours, watercolour pencils, or our personal favourite, embossing pens.

Since the colouring will be done with a water based ink, it is critical that the outline of the design, that is stamped onto your card, is done with a waterproof ink. The absolute best range of waterproof inks are the Stazon range. These amazing inks are solvent based, so they dry almost instantly, leaving a totally waterproof print behind. The colours are really strong and deep as well, with the black producing a really detailed and crisp impression of the rubber stamp. Black Stazon is probably one of the most popular inks in our entire range (if you are stamping onto dark card though, try the White Stazon as well).
Note: As Stazon is solvent based, it is not suitable for children to use.

As Stazon inks are waterproof, it can be tricky to clean your stamp once you are done, which is why they made StazOn Cleaner, which is especially designed to remove these inks, as well as conditioning your stamps at the same time.

If you would prefer a non-solvent based waterproof ink, then the VersaFine range is just the ticket. It is oil-based and non-toxic, dries instantly on regular card and has the added advantage of being specially made to bring out even the finest details from your rubber stamps.

To answer the original question, "What do I need to colour in a stamp, so it looks like the picture on the front?", we would recommend Black Stazon Ink to stamp the design with. One you have the design stamped, you can colour it in using the embossing pens, as they produce really bright colours that are easy to paint with.

Handy Tip: To get the best results from the embossing pens, scribble a small amount of ink from the pen onto a non-porous surface, such as an acrylic block (an old plate, or a sheet of plastic will work well also).
Next, wet a small paintbrush and mix it with the ink on the block before testing on a scrap of card. Add more ink to produce a brighter more vivid result, or more water for a softer lighter shade.

Do I need a bigger ink pad for bigger stamps?

Take the ink pad to the stamp

Take the ink pad to the stamp

No is the simple answer.

The ideal way of applying ink to a rubber stamp is to place the rubber stamp on the table, with the rubber side facing up, and then take the ink pad to the stamp, dabbing it around to cover the entire design, even if the stamp is much bigger than the ink pad you are using. The advantage is that you can see what you are doing as you apply the ink. As a result of this, most people prefer to buy the small ink pads, such as the Dew Drop and Cube style ink pads. The main benefits are:-

  • Price - smaller ink pads are cheaper.
  • Storage - smaller ink pads take up less space.
  • Colours - As they are cheaper and take up less space, you can afford to get a much better selection of colours.
  • Multi-Colour - The small pads can be used to ink up only part of the design, so you could, for example, use a green ink for a flower stem and a red ink for the flower head on a rubber stamp.

So why get the larger ones? The main advantages of the larger pads are:-

  • You get more ink in each pad, so they last much longer.
  • They are easier to handle - some people can find the smaller ones awkward to hold.
  • It is easier to achieve some effects, such as applying ink directly onto paper from the ink pad, with a larger pad.

Our most popular range of small ink pads are the Brilliance Dew Drops. There is a huge selection of colours in this range, including a great selection of pearlescent and metallic inks that catch the light beautifully. Stazon and VersaColor are the most popular large ink pads.

Which inks are best for Heat Embossing?

Heat Embossing involves sprinkling embossing powders over a design, and heating it to melt the powder. Once it has cooled down again you are left with a really impressive "raised ink" effect that you can feel. It gives your cards a really high quality tactile feel to them.

The simplest way to achieve this effect is to stamp using a slow drying sticky ink. This allows you enough time to stamp the design onto card and sprinkle the embossing powder over the wet ink so that it sticks to it. With the powder stuck to the ink, and all the excess powder shaken off and returned to the pot, you can heat up your design with a Heat Gun to create the finished effect.

Embossing Ink Pad, Embossing Powder and Heat Gun

Embossing Ink Pad, Embossing Powder and Heat Gun

There are 2 inks that have been made especially for use with embossing powders. They are Emboss Ink Pad, Clear and Emboss Ink Pad, Tinted. The tinted version has a very slight pink tint to it, so that you can see where you stamped the image, which makes sprinkling the embossing powder a bit easier. Both of these inks are perfect for use with opaque embossing powders. The Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad is also ideal for use with embossing powders.

Some embossing powders are semi-transparent, such as Stardust, so you can see the colour of the ink or card underneath them. These types of powders give you a lot of creative choice as there is a huge range of effects you can create by combining different coloured ink with the embossing powder. Experimentation is recommended here, as it is fun to find all the cool finishes you can create. When working with these transparent powders, we would suggest that you try the Brilliance range and VersaColor range of inks.

Finally, we should mention that the Stazon ink range and VersaFine Ink range will not work well with embossing powders, as they dry far too quickly.

What other kinds of ink are available?

There are several special ink pads that are great for certain types of effect. First off is the Tsukineko Essential Glue Pad. This pad is like a regular ink pad, only instead of ink, it is loaded with a sticky glue instead. You can use this for all kinds of fun ideas. Our favourite is to stamp a design using the glue pad, then cover it with ultra fine glitter. This works really well for wording stamps, giving you some amazing glittery messages for your cards. You can also use the glue pad with foil leaf, flock, or anything else you fancy sticking to your design really.

Versamark Watermark Pad

Versamark Watermark Pad

Finally, there is the Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad. This clever ink pad looks like a clear ink, but when you stamp with it, it actually subtly changes the shade of the paper it is applied to. This creates a neat effect that looks rather like a watermark on the paper, which makes this stamp ideal for adding a bit to detail to backgrounds. The other advantage of this ink pad is that the ink is quite sticky and slow drying, making it an ideal alternative for use with embossing powders.

Brilliance Dew Drops

Brilliance Dew Drops

A fabulous selection of pearlescent, metallic and primary ink pads in a handy compact size. Tsukineko Brilliance is a fast drying, archival and acid free pigment ink. Excellent for all paper and card, including vellums and photos.
Brilliance Ink Pads

Brilliance Ink Pads

Large ink pads with exciting pearlescent, metallic and primary pigment inks. Tsukineko Brilliance is a fast drying, archival and acid free ink. Excellent for all paper and card, including vellums and photos.
Encore Ultimate Metallic Inks

Encore Ultimate Metallic Inks

Eye-catching metallic inks in a great range of shimmering colours, in handy compact ink pads that are fantastic value for money. One of the fastest drying metallic inks available.
Ink Pads

Ink Pads

A great selection of colourful ink pads, including bright pigment shades, chalk effects, magical metallic inks and loads more.
Special Stamping Pads

Special Stamping Pads

A selection of specialist pads for rubber stamping, including embossing pads, glue pads and watermark pads.
Stazon Ink Pads

Stazon Ink Pads

StazOn is one of the most useful ink pads for a rubber stamper. The ink dries instantly on almost any surface and is waterproof, so you can colour in your stamped images with anything you like (even water colours), without any smudging. Many of our rubber stamping projects use Black Stazon.
VersaColor Ink Cubes

VersaColor Ink Cubes

VersaColor 1-inch cubes are literally packed with Ultimate Pigment Ink. These petite raised stamp pads are available in several colourways and are just the right size for convenient storage.
VersaFine Ink Cubes

VersaFine Ink Cubes

This range has been especially designed to give you extremely fine detail from your rubber stamps. Not only that, it dries instantly on card, so you can watercolour or marker over it and it won't bleed. We stock all the colours in the more convenient 1-inch square size.
VersaMagic Chalk Inks

VersaMagic Chalk Inks

This opaque pigment ink gives a permanent chalk like powder finish, even on dark papers. Colours range from soft pastels to earth tones and rich jewel shades. The compact dew drops, with both a round end and an elongated tip, are free standing, collectible & easy to use.