Author Archive | Heather Strenzwilk

Black Ink Comparison

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

In the past few years we have seen Copic, Big Brush and Memento markers become popular for coloring stamped images. Do certain markers work better with certain inks? Which inks are the darkest and blackest? And most importantly: Is there an ink which is really black that doesn’t smear when colored with markers?

In 2008 Craft Critique’s Technical Editor, Dana Vitek, did a very detailed comparison of black inks called, “The MOTHER of all black ink tests…“. As a follow-up to Dana’s well-researched comparison, I have created a similar but simpler test to compare some of the newer black inks. All of the inks (except one) used in the test are part of my stash of art supplies. The exception was the Jet Black StazOn ink (and cleaner) which belonged to a friend.

I printed the testing matrix on Georgia Pacific white cardstock and Stampin’ Up Whisper White cardstock. I stamped each type of ink four times on each sheet of cardstock (three for testing and one as a control). I started with the StazOn ink and afterward cleaned the stamp with StazOn cleaner. For the remainder of the testing, I used Ultra Clean Stamp Cleaner before changing ink sources. All of the ink air dried for approximately 14 hours before I tried coloring over the image with markers (I didn’t plan to wait 14 hours but life happened). After coloring each image with marker, I scribbled it on scrap paper to remove any black ink transferred to the marker tip.

Stampin’ Up Whisper White
Georgia Pacific White

Copic Y11 Pale Yellow
Faber Castell Big Brush Light Yellow Glaze 104
Tsukineko MementoPear Tart PM-703


Below are my results (click on the photos to make them larger).

It is important to note that Copic markers which are meant to be blended, so by design Copic over Copic will blend (aka smear). However, Memento over Memento and Big Brush over Big Brush did not smear.

Biggest Surprise- The Nick Bantock ink did not smear with Copic or Memento markers but there was some smearing with Big Brush markers. This ink was also very easy to clean off the stamp and did not stain. Secondly, the Stazon did not smear but the stamped images feathered and the black didn’t seem as dark as some of the other inks.

Overall- Stazon, Memento and Big Brush did not have any issues with smearing. Memento images were slightly crisper than Big Brush. I’m not sure if I had been comparing a black Memento marker to Big Brush if the results would stay the same.

Bottom Line- If I had to pick one ink that stamped crisply, had a rich black color and didn’t smear when colored with markers, I would choose Memento based on my results.

What brand of black ink do you use with markers? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Vendor Spotlight: Silicone Release Paper by C&T Publishing

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Silicone Release Paper from C & T Publishing was inspired by fusible applique artist Laura Wasilowski. The double-sided, coated paper comes in a package of ten- 8.5″ x 11″ inch sheets plus two- 17″ x 22″ inch sheets for larger projects. This versatile paper can be used for transfers, appliques and as a non-stick work surface for craft projects.

Pouch with heart appliques

Because I am not a very accomplished sewer (I still refer to the instruction book to thread my sewing machine properly) I decided to make a very simple applique pouch. I began by ironing some Steam-A-Seam2 double-stick fusible webbing onto the back of the fabric and then removing the backing to expose the adhesive. I used a black Sharpie marker to trace the heart shape onto the silicone release paper. Then I put the design (Sharpie side down) onto the fusible web and I ironed the silicone release paper to transfer the Sharpie ink to the fabric.

The Sharpie marker ink transfers to the fabric when ironed

I could tell when the transfer had occurred because the silicone release paper is nearly transparent. After removing the silicone release paper I was able to cut out my applique and adhere it to the pouch using my iron. This was a pretty easy process and it worked for me the first time. Although some of the Sharpie ink remained on the silicone release sheet, I think you could re-use it if you were careful.

Silicone release paper is perfect for creating hot glue or school glue embellishments

After the success with my pouch, I decided to test some other craft media. I used my hot glue gun to create some embellishments. When the glue cooled, they easily popped off the silicone release paper. The paper could definitely be re-used, which was a plus. Later I wrote the word “Elmer” with some white school glue. Because school glue is very wet, the paper warped and curled badly as it dried but the letters popped right off the release paper.

The more liquid the acrylic paint, the more warping as the paint dries

Next, I decided to make some acrylic paint skins, which I had never heard of before researching this article. For one set, I used Anita’s acrylic paint which is very liquidy. The paper warped as it dried but the dried acrylic pieces (which are very flexible) came off the page easily. For the second batch, I used some old Lumiere paint which had definitely thickened with age, with a touch of blue Anita acrylic paint. This batch had more body and didn’t warp the paper as badly, but the paper is definitely “single use” for this type of project.

Notice the warping after the acrylic paint skin is peeled

Finally, I decided to make some encaustic art with Crayola Crayons. I sprinkled fine crayon shavings on a piece of cardboard sandwiched between two pieces of silicone release paper. After briefly ironing to melt the crayon, I pulled off the top paper. The wax didn’t stick to the release paper but it did sort of bead up and leave a waxy residue. I put the sheet, residue side down on some white matte cardstock to try to remove the residue but some of it remained. I could use the sheet again but I would be concerned about muddying the next batch of wax.

My impression of the product is that it is a thinner, disposable version of a non-stick craft mat, a product I use constantly in my craft room. The texture of the paper reminds me of a cross between parchment paper and the release paper used to iron Perler Beads. Silicone release paper would be good to take to a crop or for kids to use because there is no messy clean up. I was a little disappointed by how much the silicone release paper warped when it got wet, but it is more of a one-time use product. The larger 17″ x 22″ inch size sheets are great for larger projects or for enlarging patterns. Since the sheets are nearly transparent, it is easy to trace and there is no need to reverse your letters because you’ll flip the sheet to do the transfer onto the fabric.

Mini book featuring an encaustic tree


  • Package has ten regular size plus two 17″ x 22″ sheets for large projects
  • Nothing sticks to it
  • Versatile- can be used with multiple media


  • Silicone release paper warps if it gets very wet
  • Not as durable as a standard, reusable non-stick craft mat

Have you tried Silicone Release Paper? What products do you use to create appliques? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Crafting with Back-to-School Supplies

Back to School time = groans from kids and cheers from parents! Major retailers are offering lots of bargains so this is the time to stock up on supplies to enhance and renew your creativity.

4 Tips for the best deals:

  • Watch the Sunday paper or store websites for the weekly specials. Many “Big Box” retailers have door busters such as packs of index cards for a penny (if you make a minimum $5 purchase). I recently bought a $5 pack of pens with a $5 rebate so my final cost was two cents for 2 packs of index cards and a package of pens.
  • See a good deal? Buy extras! I stash extra crayons, paper, glue sticks, etc., so I always have them on hand. This is also helpful for snowy Sunday night requests like “Mom, I need a new notebook for tomorrow.” These extras are also great for gifts or as small treats for “helpers” who want to play with mom’s art supplies.
  • Watch clearance areas for additional savings. Last year’s calendar might be a great canvas for an altered journal. I will buy notebooks with scuffed covers if I intend to cover them.
  • A dollar store can be a good year round source for basic supplies too. Often you can buy smaller packages with smaller quantities (4-5 file folders) rather an a larger pack which you might not need.

Altered journal from the dollar store

Think outside the box- I often use copier, loose leaf and graph paper in my paper art. Not only are they readily available, but they are inexpensive enough that I feel free to experiment with them. Children’s writing paper is another interesting background and pads of it are often available at the dollar store.

Decorated file folder

I have spent some time talking about buying markers, glue sticks, pencils, etc., in the dollar store or office supply store. Obviously, most of these products are not archival and are student grade and can’t be directly compared to artist or professional grade products. But in addition to being a good way to keep your family away from your “good” supplies, the cheaper supplies are handy. I’ve caught myself writing notes with a Copic marker because I didn’t have anything else to write with in my studio. Now I stash some ordinary pencils and ball-point pens next to my index cards so I can write myself notes. I also keep a cheap pair of scissors handy so I can open packaging without using my specialty scissors.

Decorated composition book

Many years ago I bought a name brand journal to alter and it was expensive. I was eager because it was the “in” brand at the time. Where is it now? The unused journal sits in my stash because I am worried about messing it up. Ask me how many 50-cent composition books I have decorated since then- too many to count! Have I messed some up? Yes- but I still use them to doodle or to write down ideas plus I know I can buy more later.

Covered mini legal pad

One final thought- the holidays are coming and decorated composition books, mini legal pad covers, or decorated file folders make inexpensive yet practical gifts for teachers, family and friends. Stock up on affordable supplies during back to school time so you are ready to create!

Do you stock up on supplies during back to school shopping?