I have gotten lots of questions about inks. I thought I would share a bit here about the inks I like for certain things, etc. However, every stamper is different. A lot of it depends on personal preference. So I will just give you a little info about each. :) Keep in mind – I am not getting into the technical stuff – there is a lot of that already out there.
Here we go…
Dye ink is the type of ink that you normally think of when you think of a stamp pad – a smooth pad. It dries quickly and absorbs into the paper giving solid images. I use a black dye ink for all my black stamping – Black Memories Ink. This gives a very "black" image that I feel is crisp and clean. It dries quickly and stays put, so it is perfect for any coloring I do. For brown, I like Memories ArtPrint Brown ink… I like the slightly red tone to it. For colored dye inks, I like Ranger's Adirondack. They have delicious colors and are high quality. Some people try dye inks and are turned off by a sometimes "splotchy" look that you get immediately. However, as it absorbs, it almost always smoothes out and ends up looking good. :) I know that many people like the Stampin' Up inks, but I tend to get my hands inky with the ink case that flips.
For soft inks, Shadow Inks from Hero Arts are incredible. They slowly absorb into the paper and make a soft look – perfect for backgrounds.
I should also mention here that I love to stamp with Tim Holtz's Distress Inks. I don't distress much, but I tell ya, the colors of these inks are delicious and the resulting stamped image is gorgeous. Gorgeous. I feel these are a must have, especially Peeled Paint (green), Walnut Stain (a great true brown) and Worn Lipstick (pink).
On the other side of the spectrum are pigment inks. Pigment ink pads usually look like little sponges. To be honest, I don't use them a ton. I personally find it harder to get a crisp image with pigment ink. However, since pigment inks kinda "sit on the surface" of the paper instead of absorbing into it, you do have some advantages. First, whatever the image looks like when you first stamp it is the same it will look when it dries. Also, it takes longer to dry. This means you can heat emboss with it. Really, I only use pigment inks in two cases: when I want to heat emboss or when there is a yummy color that only comes in pigment ink (such as Versacolor Cyan or Bamboo). My favorite pigment inks are Colorbox and Versacolor. I like to get the smaller ink pads since it is easier to multi-ink stamps.
In between pigment and dye inks are chalk inks. (They are called chalk inks because they stamp an image that looks like pastel chalks. Or so they say.) Overall, my favorite ink to use for stamping colored images is Colorbox Chalk Ink. I really like the colors it comes in and that when you stamp it you get a muted, rich look. I simply love the stamped look. They dry a bit slower than dye so you can blend if you want, but dry much faster than pigment. And they are slow to need re-inking. The queues are so easy to use in their cat's eyes shape. My favorites? Primary, Chocolates and Blueberries (love the brown shades here) and Pumpkin Patch. I just love them. (Have I said that yet?? Hee…) There are a few certain colors that I like so much that I use the full-size pads often: Dark Brown, Olive Pastel and Lime Pastel. Yum…
As for other inks: Staz-On inks are great for stamping on anything not paper: buttons, transparencies, etc. White and Black are musts. (Keep in mind that white Staz-On comes with a re-inker for a reason: you should re-ink it very often. I do so before almost every use.) This stuff stays put, but I found that Hero's cleaner can take it off all smooth surfaces I have tried.
Versamark is another I use very often. It just does a watermark image… like a clear pigment ink. Sprinkle on embossing powder and heat and the image intensifies – love this.
Ranger's Resist ink is fabulous for doing resist. (Stamp the image with the resist ink on glossy white paper. Then rub dye or chalk ink over it and the resist ink "resists" the added color, leaving a ghost-like image. Very cool.) You can do resist with Versamark, but you have to let it dry completely. So, I like to have the Ranger pad.
I also like to stamp with acrylic paints for a "messy" look. Recently I got rid of ALL my bottles except Ranger's Dabbers. These things ROCK. I won't use anything else since these are so easy and come in great colors.
Someone asked about stamping white on dark paper. I personally like using Memories White Ink. It gives a soft image, but I love it. HERE is an example of it in action. White Staz-On doesn't really stamp crisp and nice on cardstock for me. I just use it for stamping on transparencies.
As for cleaning stamps? Ha… I don't do a good job. I usually clean them when I need to use them. :) I just use baby wipes, and for a good cleaning, I use Hero Arts' cleaner for everything. It is wonderful.
I think that is it. Let me know if I missed something! Again, this is just my view on things. I know others have different opinions. A lot of it is just personal preferences.
As for the other questions asked, I will get to those tomorrow. I have a new chair for Ikea that needs to be assembled. Woohoo!