Jeanean, our Papercrafts Buyer here at Craft Warehouse is passionate about all things paper, especially things related to making greeting cards (you can see her amazing card creations on her scrapbooknerd instagram account). So, you can imagine, that she knows a thing or two about the best ink pads to use. Here are her expert opinions (she calls herself picky, we say discriminating) on the best ink pads to use and why. Did you know there are so many differences? (Ink pads are being evaluated by what works on standard cardstock paper. All ink pads listed available at your local Craft Warehouse).

Having the right tool for the job is so important to successful outcomes, and that’s true in stamping too. These are my MOST used ink pads, my bosom stamping buddies, my soul mates. Some have been near, dear and true for many years and others are new faves. If there is one of these you haven’t tried I encourage you to go for it!

1.) Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad – The best embossing ink pad! Versamark is a clear stamp that leaves a watermark on your paper. The stamped image stays sticky for a bit, which makes it great to use with embossing powders, in fact, it’s stronger then some embossing with Versamark inks I’ve used. Also, it’s fun to use it as a resist ink (which is stamping your images on glossy paper with Versamark and then applying dye ink over  – the image will remain uncolored and the background will become the color you rubbed over). Fun tip: The Versamark attracts powders, so for a subtle color addition try dusting with chalk or eyeshadow when it’s still sticky.

Watermark Stamped Card by Craft Warehouse

This card shows the watermark effect created by using the Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad


2.) Ranger Archival Ink Jet Black – Waterproof- um, hello! This pad is ideal for art journaling. If you are a mixed media artist or collage artist, this is the ink pad for you. You can watercolor over it (it doesn’t work with alcohol-based markers) and it works great for layers.

3.) Hero Arts Unicorn White Hero Hues – This is a newer favorite. There I was going along with my stamping projects never knowing what I was missing in a white ink pad until I tried this one and it was like seeing white for the first time! All those other whites are just watery ghosty disappointments once you play with this one. Whites are the hardest inks to make and to get to stay white. This ink pad has the perfect color name – Unicorn! It really is the unicorn of whites. Fun tip: – for the whitest possible outcome- coat with white embossing powder immediately after stamping, and then heat set.

4.) Hero Arts Intense Black. What used to be in this spot was Momento Black- which is still an excellent ink pad, but just like the Unicorn White- you just can’t appreciate utter intensity of deep black until you stamp with this ink! Plus- SAFE for alcohol based markers! This is a new favorite!

5.) Saved the best for last. Versafine is my number 1 go-to ink pad. The Versafine works amazing even on the most detailed stamps. The superfine ink is thinner, so it covers fine detailed stamps better as well as covering more deeply for bold stamps. It dries quickly and works well with watercolors. You’ll get clear, clean and crisp images. The double-hinge lid means no inky fingers. Super juicy – this ink pad lasts longer than any other! Absolutely a MUST have!


→ Best Use Tips for Getting the Most from your Ink Pads:

  • Most people push much harder on the stamp pad then is needed. Just tapping it should be sufficient. After you press your stamp pad look at the image. Is there ink around the edges and bleeding off the image? If so, you pressed too hard and you’ll get a messy print.
  • It’s actually better to ink your stamp by turning it upside down and applying ink that way. Then you can see how the ink is being distributed. This is especially true of a larger stamp.
  • It’s best to store ink pads upside down. The ink will migrate down as it sits and that can result in a pad that seems dry, but actually is not. Store your pads upside down and you’ll get a better print and won’t need to press as hard.
  • If you think your ink pad is dried out. Turn it upside down for 24 hours. If after that it’s still as dry, then you know it really is dried out.


Color Ink Pads

I mostly use colored ink pads for coloring paper and not applying to the stamp. If I do use color ink pads by applying to stamps these are my favorites to use:

  • Distress Ink Pads from Tim Holtz for Ranger – these inks will dry quick and not smear unless activated with water. That means you can distress them and blend them easily using blending foam, by spritzing with water or by using a water pen. These colors are muted and not as deep as pigment inks.
  • Color Box – These inks are pigment based, so the colors are more saturated and deeper. The pigment ink sits on top of the paper instead of soaking in, so you get much more vibrancy. This means they take longer to dry, which works well if you want to use them for embossing. The pigment inks are fade resistant.