These are some answers to the questions that are often asked by Card Makers or beginners often unfamiliar with the maze of products on offer.
For a beginning stamper and even for experienced stampers, the variety and options available in ink pads and re-inkers can be a bit daunting. So, let's take it a step at a time. Remember, there are similar products available through a variety of manufacturers, and personal choice and preference ultimately play a role in the selection.
Dye Based Inks - are an essential, but there are two types. Standard dye based inks are water based, somewhat transparent and dry quickly on papers, even gloss papers. It is difficult to emboss with these products as they dry too quickly. They “stain” paper, and dry lighter than they appear in the ink pad.
Different formulations and the addition of other agents have made some dye-based inks permanent. In other words, you can stamp in black with a permanent dye based ink and after it has dried, use markers or water colours to “paint” in your image. Be sure to read the package labels carefully. If you try to use water colours on an image stamped with a standard dye based ink, the image will run and smear. Dye inkpads are usually sold with a cloth covered felt pad that is somewhat firm. We recommend that you check the following manufacturers' websites: Clearsnap, Ranger, Tsukineko, Stewart-Superior. They all have excellent dye-based inks with different colour families.
Pigment Inks - are generally thicker, more opaque and dry slowly on paper. They may never dry on a glossy paper or on Shrink Plastic unless one uses an embossing powder. They may also have a metallic effect from some manufacturers. Again, we suggest you check the offerings. (Brilliance by Tsukineko, however, dries quickly on most papers, even vellum and glossy papers due to a special formulation.)
Chalk inkpads are pigment inks and are available through most of the key manufacturers. They have a matte, flat effect when dry. Even chalk inks, because they are pigment based, can be embossed with clear embossing powder for a shiny look. Pigment inkpads are usually sold with a foam pad that is fairly soft. Frequently on the large pads there is a plastic “hat” which keeps the pad from drying out, forming a more airtight seal. Some pigment inks require heat setting. There are a few permanent pigment inks which are suitable for fabric and are heat set for permanence as well. VersaCraft (formerly called Fabrico) by Tsukineko is good for fabric.
Hybrid Inks - take the best of both worlds --- they dry very quickly and are permanent on a variety of non-porous surfaces, including glossy paper, raw or baked polymer clay, shrink plastic. But, they require special cleaners because the inks are difficult to remove from rubber, and can degrade photo polymer stamps. StazOn by Tsukineko is very versatile from paper to glass. NOTE: After using appropriate cleaners on the photo polymer stamps, wash again with liquid detergent and soap and water.
Resist, Watermark, Bleach, and Glue pads - Resist inks do just that: they resist dye inks. If you stamp with one of these clear pads onto glossy paper, you are ready for a direct-to-paper technique. Rub one or more colours of dye-based ink onto the paper and you will see that the image will remain colour free. A neat reverse technique. See Tsukineko and Ranger websites for further differentiation.
The resist pads provide different effects when used on non-glossy cardstock. You can rub powdered pigments or chalks over the resist stamped image and it will pick up the colour. Emboss with coloured embossing powders over the resist inks. Again, always test your results and effects on scrap paper. Jacquard makes a new pad that will remove colour from coloured cardstock without the use of bleach. By ironing or using a heat gun, your stamped image will fade from the surface of the paper. It does not use bleach, instead an ingredient that “pulls” the dye out of the paper. You can get similar effects using household bleach, but it smells, and you can ruin your clothes in the process!
Stewart Superior makes a Palette Glue Pad which must be heat activated to work. Metal leafing can be applied as well as certain other inclusions such as glitter. Test on scrap before using on a final project.
Alcohol Inks - Both Jacquard (Rupert, Gibbon and Spider) and Ranger Inks produce alcohol inks. Jaquard's product line is called Pinata, and Ranger makes the Adirondack alcohol line. These are sold in small bottles, not in ink pads. They are transparent and dry quickly on many surfaces because of the alcohol accelerant. You get gorgeous translucent colour. Special blending solutions allow a variety of effects. These techniques definitely take practice, and no two results turn out the same. You can use special felt applicators, make-up applicators, cotton balls. You can even colour metal tins, brads, and eyelets. If you have too many silver accessories, colour them with alcohol inks.