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Vendor Spotlight: Stampendous Stamp Cleaners

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I was so excited to get this little package in the mail from Stampendous!  I am reviewing the two stamp cleaners – same formula in both bottles, but two ways to apply.  For about the past five years I have been using baby wipes to clean all my stamps and was anxious to see if these cleaners are easier or do a better job.

The green bottle has a felt dauber top (just like acrylic paint daubers) that releases the stamp cleaning solution when you press down on it.  The pink bottle has a fine mist spray nozzle.  Both bottles contain the same stamp cleaner, which is water-based and non-toxic.

Before I got started with my review I had to clean off my work space and noticed a stamp I used about a week ago that never got cleaned (pictured below with metallic gold pigment ink).  Yikes!  I used the dauber on it and plenty of stamp cleaner came out  right away.  I then blotted it on a paper towel (as instructed), but that ink didn’t budge.  I daubed it a second time and the ink started to come off.  I ended up having to scrub it with the paper towel instead of blotting to get all the ink off.  But it had been on there for a week…

The directions are very simple and I decided to jump right in and test the cleaners with four different inks and a clear stamp so you can see any ink residue.  I tested Versafine pigment ink, Memento dye ink, VersaMark Dazzle, and StazOn.

 After inking up a brand new clear stamp with Memento and stamping it once I used the dauber stamp cleaner again and then blotted on a paper towel.  You can see below that the black ink still left some discoloration on the clear stamp.  I’m not sure if this can be avoided though.  I stamped it again on white cardstock and the ink was gone.

After using the dauber cleaner on these two stamps I noticed that the felt on top was starting to get a little pilled.  (click image to enlarge)
It also took me a few tries to get the right amount of cleaner out when using the dauber.  Pushing down on the applicator releases a tiny bit of cleaner, but I squeezed the bottle to get a little more.  Oops!  Squeezed to hard – see below.

After this I moved on to the spray applicator.  I pulled out another brand new clear stamp and inked it up with VersaFine pigment.  I stamped once on cardstock and then sprayed twice with the stamp cleaner.  This bottle gives you a nice even and fine mist, but it is still a bit hard to contain it just on the stamp.  After spraying I used a paper towel to “scrub gently and blot” as instructed.  This worked, but left little white fibers on the stamp from the paper towel.

I also used the spray applicator to clean off stamps with VersaMark Dazzle and StazOn.  As expected it did a great job cleaning the VersaMark, but not so much on the StazOn.  It did manage to get a little of the green StazOn off my clear stamp, but since it is a solvent ink I would need to use a special cleaner for that one.  Just testing!

In the end I found the best results using both stamp cleaners with a stamp scrubbing pad that I had on hand (above), instead of the paper towel that the directions recommend.  I just applied the stamp cleaner directly to the stamp and then scrubbed on the pad and let the stamp air dry.

Comparing these cleaners to my old method (baby wipes), I would say that they are more effective, but not easier.  So let’s sum it all up with some pros and cons for the Stampendous Stamp Cleaners.

Pros:

  • Able to remove pigment and dye inks from clear, cling, and rubber stamps
  • Water based and non-toxic – no funky smells and I feel safe having this around the family
  • Very nice applicator bottles – I liked both!
  • Inexpensive and easy to find locally and online
Cons:
  • A bit more messy than I’m used to in my small working space – hard to get just the right amount of cleaner directly onto the stamp
  • Multi-step process (but cleaning stamps almost always is)
  • Needed a stamp scrubber pad to use these cleaners to the best of their ability
I also have to mention that the new Stampendous jumbo cling stamps are SOOOO nice to use with their Jumbo Perfectly Clear Handle.  It is so much thinner and lighter than my old acrylic blocks and I love all the new cling stamp designs.
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Vendor Spotlight: Letraset Aqua Markers

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I was excited to test out a set of the Letraset Aqua Markers, because using markers makes me just as happy as it did when I was in grade school!    I looked up this line of twin-tip markers online and noticed that the sets came with a “blender” pen.  So I (incorrectly) assumed that they would function like my Copic markers – blending colors together but without the alcohol ink.  Turns out that these markers actually work just like a watercolor pencil, so you can blend them with a brush on watercolor paper.  A set of 12 Aqua Markers retails for just under $37.

I received “Set 1” colors and am very happy with the variety and packaging.  The plastic case opens flat so you can see every color while you’re working.  And there was a small insert with a few tips, including this important one – you really should be using watercolor paper with these markers.  I didn’t have any, so my first few tests are using cardstock (more pictures in a bit).

 The back of the Hints & Tips insert has a color chart for each set, and I found the colors on this chart to be much more true than the colors on the barrels of the markers themselves.  You can also see the illustration of the twin tips below: fine nib for detail and broader brushlike tip for big surfaces.

For my first test, I did three strokes of a variety of colors on three different types of cardstock.  Top is an Avery manila shipping tag, then 80 lb. Neenah cardstock, and at the bottom 100 lb. Bristol paper.

I set the markers aside and used the “blender pen” to try to create a wash between the different colors.  It didn’t work so well and I started to get some pilling on each of the tests.  I also noticed that some colors were easier to blend than others, most notably the orange (Gold Ochre) seemed to have more pigment.

 Then right below then Blender pen wash, I used a watercolor brush and water to try to create a wash between the different colors.  Got even worse results – perhaps the ink had dried too long (about 3 or 4 minutes).  You can click on the photo to zoom in.

Attempted a close up of the pilling on the paper after using the Aqua Markers and then the Blender Pen.

I did one more test on regular cardstock, to see which inks would work best when stamping with these markers.  The top is a stamped image with black Versafine pigment ink and it stayed very true even after blending the markers with a brush and water.  Keep in mind that pigment ink takes a while to dry – I left this overnight before going back to it with markers and water.  The black Memento dye ink (bottom) got a bit washed out after blending with water.  The end result is more grey than black.

At this point I dragged myself to the store to get some watercolor paper to test the makers in their best environment.  I also looked up a few more tips on the Letraset website (see more links at the end of the review) and learned that you can use these markers directly on stamps.

I used the broad nib of the markers directly on the rubber stamp and ended up with this image on the watercolor paper.

To give it more of a watercolor “effect” I used my wet paintbrush to blend the leaves a bit.  I was also able to go over the tree trunk and even out the color quite a bit.  I can already tell that the watercolor paper makes all the difference for blending.
For my final test I wanted to make a few snail embellishments for future projects.  I used the black Versafine pigment ink to stamp the image on watercolor paper.  Let it dry for a few hours then came back and outlined with the markers and blended with a wet brush right away.  By far my most successful use of the markers.

 Even though this set of markers was not what I expected, they turned out to be really fun and different than what I was used to.  It was nice to use a brush for the watercolor effect.  I would absolutely recommend using the online resources that Letraset has on their website, and there are a couple videos on You Tube of crafters giving their own tips and tricks with these markers.

Resources on the Letraset website:

Pros:
  • A different type of marker, can be used alone or blended with a brush for a watercolor effect
  • Well-packaged set includes storage, good variety of colors, and a blender pen
  • Twin-tip is very nice for this type of marker
  • Price is pretty reasonable when compared to fine watercolor sets or other crafting marker sets
Cons:
  • I never really figured out how to use the blender pen, and there was a learning curve for blending with a brush
  • Had to buy watercolor paper to use these markers
  • I could not find any other Letraset markers in my local art and craft stores
  • Would be really helpful to have a video how-to on the Letraset website
What do you think?  Have you tried the Letraset Aqua Markers?  Any tips to share?

Vendor Spotlight: American Crafts "this to that" Adhesive

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I first heard about the this to that adhesives about a year ago when they were creating a buzz at CHA and on the blogs.  Since I am a known adhesive collector/buyer/hoarder… I knew that I had to get my hands on these new products!  I finally got my chance and am happy to go over all the ins and out of three different types of adhesives from American Crafts.  I’ll start with a quick video intro (click below to watch via the Craft Critique YouTube channel), then we can get into the product details and some project photos.

3 Pack Adhesive Runners
This multi-pack includes three different types of adhesive: solid, strip, and dot.  All three have permanent, acid-free adhesive and feature refillable cartridges.  These three runners pretty much cover 90% of my adhesive needs.  The runners are comfortable to hold and have a cap to keep them covered for storage.  However, I have to mention that the cap is clear and doesn’t stay on very well, so there is a good chance it will get lost.

I liked using the dot runner to apply to curves or on small pieces where a “strip” would hang off the edge.  The strip runner is great for doing short adhesive strips on square pieces for cards and scrapbooking.  And the solid runner is like the hybrid that you can use on almost any project.  The strip runner is a bit different from the other two, because it is not clear when it is applied (more like white paper) and it contains 16 feet of adhesive (where the other two runners have 32 feet) – you can see this in the video.

Foam Dots + Foam Tabs
To get some dimension, use the Tab (square) or Dot (circle) foam adhesive.  Both come in a variety of sizes so you shouldn’t have to do any cutting – just peel and stick.  This is so much easier than foam tape that you have to roll out and cut.  Both packages that I reviewed were 3 mm thick, giving just the right amount of dimension, but not so much that you couldn’t mail a card or get a scrapbook page into a page protector.  Foam Dots contain 275 foam circles and Foam Tabs contain 272 foam squares.

Double-Sided Tape
This is the one I was most excited about – a double-sided tape that doesn’t require a bulky dispenser or scissors.  You can tear it right off the roll!  The first thing I wanted to do was lay down a strip and apply glitter (see the video above for that).  It comes in a variety of widths, but I am specifically reviewing the 1/4 inch roll, which is 11 yards long.

I made this card using American Crafts cardstock (including the butterflies), Thickers, and This to That adhesives.  Smaller butterflies each have two Foam Dots, and the Strip Runner was used to piece the rest together.
I used the Double-Sided Tape with glitter here, and this card was pieced together using the Solid Runner.  A rubber cement eraser was used to get extra adhesive out of the holes in the red border.

Pros:

  • All three types of adhesive are permanent, archival, and acid free
  • Ease of use!  No scissors or special tools necessary
  • Prices seem to be right in line with other adhesives in the same categories



Cons:

  • I had a hard time finding these in my local stores, and I know that the big chain stores in my area do not carry them
  • Caps do not stay on the adhesive runners
  • “Strip” runner has less adhesive and is not clear when applied

GIVEAWAY!

Our friends at American Crafts have provided a prize pack for one of our lucky readers! Just leave a comment on this post answering the following questions to be entered:

Have you tried any of the this to that adhesives from American Crafts? What do you look for in an adhesive?

One comment per person, per American Crafts’ article, please. Contest will end on Saturday, August 13, 2011.