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Tim Holtz is very well known in the craft world, and as a passionate crafter himself has produced a beautiful and inspiring range of products including; distress inks, paints, papers, embellishments and more. He has also written several books on distressing and altered art. His products are widely available in craft shops, and online including Amazon.
The distress inks are acid-free, fade resistant, water-based dye inks. As they are water based inks they do not dry quite as quickly as alcohol based inks which in turn makes them far more versatile. They are still touch dry fairly quickly -this does depend on precisely how the inks are used and I have included some suggestions below.
The ink pads themselves come in black packaging with a label on the lid indicating the colour. They have lovely names such as spun sugar, rusty hinge and stormy sky. There are a lovely range of colours and from time to time limited editions are brought our these are usually seasonally themed. Prices for these ink pads do vary greatly but they are normally around the £4 mark.
One of the major advantages of these inks pads is their versatility; they can be used to stamp, emboss, blend, as well as to colour/paint stamped images.
To stamp you would simply use the ink pad of your choice to add colour to your chosen stamp ensuring even coverage and then press down on your chosen surface. If you are a more advanced stamper you can add several colours of ink to a single stamp to vary your results- this looks particularly nice for example with a robin on a branch stamp - inking the branch and bird brown (you could even use two different shades) and then the breast red and leaves green. If the ink has tried slightly whilst you are adding the various colours simply breathe on it- this then moistens allowing you to stamp. After stamping you can also use a damp paintbrush to blend colours or edges. To clean stamps I use a baby wipe.
These ink pads can also be used to paint stamped images. To do this you simply press your ink pad onto a non-porous surface- I use an old tile and then using a damp paint brush you can use the ink to paint- you can add as much or as little water as you like to both vary the effects and the depth of colour.
These ink pads can be used to heat emboss- I prefer to use them with clear embossing powder- not only does this give a beautiful finish but the original colour shows through and it gives a raised glossy finish. The major advantage of these ink pads and heat embossing is that as the original colour is visible if you have lot of colours of ink you only need clear embossing powder, rather than a range of coloured powders which makes it much more cost effective. I now only buy clear embossing powder.
These ink pads also look great when applied to embossing folders. There are two ways that you can do this both creating very different effects. Firstly you can emboss your card and then apply the ink either directly to the card highlighting the raised areas, or with a tool or brush for a more subtle effect. Secondly you can apply the ink to the embossing folder directly then emboss the card. It is very easy to clean the embossing folder using a wet cloth or baby wipes.
These ink pads can be used to create beautiful blended backgrounds- using several colours or shades or ink and blending- either with a blending tool (There is one in the Tim Holtz range -although kabuki brushes also work well) or by blending with a damp paintbrush. It also looks lovely if you then stamp over the top.
I also love to use these ink pads to create beautiful distressed effects either using a blending tool, or by inking the edges of an image or photo (these ink pads are also widely used in scrapbooking). They also look stunning used in conjunction with stencils. You can also use them to add a distressed effect to ribbons- I use plain organza or lace for this.
These inks really are so versatile- each ink pad lasts a very long time even with a lot of use- and refills can be brought to refresh as needed. They really are a must have for crafters and are frequently used in cardmaking, scrapbooking and altered art. Highly recommend.
This review also appears on CIAO under the same username.