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Author Archive | Reyanna Klein

Black Ink Pad Comparison

Reported by Reyanna Klein

I’m one of those scrapbookers who hoards stamps and inks, but hardly ever uses them. Having an endless supply of inks got me curious… what’s the best one out there? Which inks are best for the projects I do? I would go to grab a stamp pad, and I honestly would not know which pads to use.

I thought it would be perfect to set up a little test… Testing the three I had in my stash: ColorBox (in Black), StazOn (in Jet Black), and VersaMagic (in Midnight Black). And from this test, I would figure out once and for all which inks would be the best for my needs.

First off, I should mention that ColorBox and VersaMagic are both pigment inks. Pigment inks use special pigments to improve fade performance, making them great for archival quality projects. Pigment inks settle into the tiny fibers of paper and fabric. Because of this, they don’t work so well on non-porous and semi-porous media (like acrylic and photos).

StazOn, on the other hand, is a solvent-based ink (basically, it’s not water-based). While still archival-safe, what sets it apart from pigment inks is its ability to dry quickly. Though pigment inks are easier to clean using just water (or baby wipes, like I use), solvent-based inks clean up best with cleaners (like StazOn All-Purpose Cleaner) made specifically for them.

The first test was to stamp the three inks on smooth cardstock. I used the Fiskars Stamp Press and one of my favorite clear stamps, TypeSet from Studio Calico, for each stamped image. I cleaned the stamp between each pressed image, so they’d all have the same starting point. (The name of the ink used is beneath each stamped image. And you can click on all images to make them larger.)

Now, I’m not a great stamper, so please excuse my stamping skills. But… my skill set aside, it’s easy to see that the StazOn is the darkest of the three, and it also creates the crispest image.

Next, I decided to test the stamped images to see how they react to slight smearing. You know… you stamp an image and then you accidentally brush your hand across it? (I hate that! LOL.) I held down the stamp press for 10 seconds for each image, removed the press, then lightly smeared two fingers down the stamp.

StazOn didn’t smear at all. And though VersaMagic smeared a bit more than ColorBox, it shows that VersaMagic is a bit thicker and darker. With this test, I would conclude that VersaMagic would make the best embossing ink. With thickness and slow drying time combined, I think it would do slightly better than ColorBox when embossed. StazOn probably wouldn’t be the best for embossing because it dries so quickly. However, *not* smearing and drying quickly certainly have their advantages!

Stamping on photos is becoming more and more popular these days, as is the use of stamping on acrylic and other media besides paper. So I thought it would be best to test these inks stamped on photo paper.


WOW! Sorry ColorBox and VersaMagic, StazOn wins by a landslide! Because VersaMagic and ColorBox are both pigment inks, they do not stamp well on this surface.

Do you want to hear something crazy? StazOn was dry within minutes. I let this sit overnight before touching the ColorBox or VersaMagic (they were noticeably too wet to touch when first stamped). Over 24 hours later, the ColorBox STILL came off on my finger when touched. The VersaMagic finally dried on the photo paper, but it dried much lighter than even this scan shows. The StazOn remained crisp when I ran my finger across it.

I couldn’t do an ink review without doing some distressing. There are times when clean and crisp lines look great, but then there are other times where just a touch of distress or age will add the perfect effect.

I ran the ink pads down the side of a small piece of cardstock first… just around the edges. Next, I lightly distressed the edges. I tried to do the same technique with each ink pad.

StazOn showed the smallest hint of a black line when it was run along the edges. This may be caused by the firmer surface of the ink pad. VersaMagic and ColorBox showed a more distressed (not as perfect) finish on the edges. And at the corners, I found the ColorBox ink much easier to maneuver (most likely this is due to the much softer pad), resulting in a more smoky appearance. VersaMagic gave a chalk-like appearance, which was stated on the packaging. This did not perform as well as the ColorBox, which is my distressing ink of choice.

My findings:

Colorbox (MSRP $5.95)
Good for: distressing (smoky-like finish); inking edges; embossing
Not good for: fast-drying projects; crisp edges; fine detail; stamping on slick surfaces (photos, acrylic, etc.)

StazOn (MSRP $8.29)
Good for: crisp edges; fast-drying projects; stamping on plastic/acrylic, photos, metal, glass, ceramic, laminated paper, coated paper, and leather
Not good for: embossing, stamping on fabric (I didn’t try stamping on fabric, but it says so on the packaging)

VersaMagic (MSRP $6.00)
Good for: embossing; distressing (chalk-like finish); stamping on wood, fabric, leather, metal, paper
Not good for: fast-drying projects; stamping on photos

As it turns out, I’m glad that I purchased each of these! I didn’t see that one coming! LOL. I honestly thought one would trump the others, leaving the others in its dust… or smeared ink trail…

I now know that I will always grab my StazOn for general stamping, VersaMagic for embossing, and ColorBox for distressing (love those little Cat’s Eyes too!).

So what about you? Do you use different brands for different projects? Or do you have one favorite brand you use for everything? I’d love to know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Maya Mist

Reported by Reyanna Klein

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing mists used quite a bit in scrapbooking these days! I tend to shy away from things like paint and mists, but for some reason, I was drawn to Maya Mists by Maya Road. And it wasn’t until I got this mist in my hands, that I realized how versatile it is! I LOVE this stuff!

Maya Mists are water-based (and therefore, acid-free) pigments. They come in a 2-fluid-ounce bottle with a pump spray, and though that may sound like a small amount, this little bottles goes A LONG way! I’ve *barely* used up a quarter of a bottle, and I’ve done numerous projects (at least ten). These mists can be used on chipboard, paper, fabric, paper flowers, the list goes on… they’re quite versatile!

For my projects in this review, I used the Blue Mist. I wanted to see the same color in a few different fashions. And I also wanted to see what I could do with just one little bottle. After this, I can’t wait to get more colors!

I decided to start with something fairly simple. I punched out some stars, and randomly added them to a sheet of cardstock. I only have two sizes of star punches, so for some other sized stars, I decided to throw on some Heidi Swapp Chipboard Invisibles.

Once they were scattered on my page, I simply misted away… just a couple sprays, so it wouldn’t be too dark (the more you mist, the darker it becomes). They stay in place the whole time you’re misting, so you get a nice, clean mask.

After just a few seconds, I was able to simply pick up (or shake off) the stars. I could use them on another project if I wanted to. They have such a neat look. For the Heidi Swapp Invisibles (the two largest stars in this picture), I wiped off or blotted (with a paper towel) some excess mist that was sitting on top. Because these chipboard shapes have a neat embossed texture, you can see it through the mist! Very cool!

My cardstock got a pretty cool effect once I removed the stars. I used the misted cardstock as my background for this layout…

(Cardstock: Wausau; Punches: Fiskars; Die-cut: K&Company; Pearls: Mark Richards;
Chipboard: Heidi Swapp; Velvet Pleat/Lace: Maya Road; Font: Jane Austen)

Of course, I added the photo and elements later… after I had misted. I used a small Colorbox Cat’s Eye ink to put “swishes” over the mist to give it a softer look.

Another really neat idea is using the Mist as watercolor-like paint. I misted into a small plastic bowl (just one spray), and I used a small paint brush to apply paint to the inside of these Studio Calico alphabet stamps

(Alphabet and flower stamps: Studio Calico; colored pens: Copic)

I then misted just a bit over the whole card. Though the mist rarely splatters like you see in the corner, I removed the pump and “flicked” some mist to the corner of this card to give it a paint-splatter look.

I really loved a tutorial (by Nicole Harper) using Maya Mist with rub-ons, so I decided to give it a try. I applied a Basic Grey rub-on to cardstock, then sprayed the Maya Mist over the top. I wiped the mist off the top of the rub-on (it sits on top of that shiny surface), and then used a gum eraser to remove the rub-on. It leaves a really neat silhouette of the rub-on! I then colored-in a bit of the silhouette with a red Copic pen on this layout here…

(Cardstock: American Crafts; Papers/Sticker: Jenni Bowlin Studios;
Rub-ons: Basic Grey [flourish],
Scenic Route [title];
Pens: American Crafts [black], Copic [red])

I also showed how you can make some areas light and dark. And I misted a Prima flower to use as an accent on this page.

You can also use Maya Mist on fabric, using stencils like I did in this review. After you spray the mist, you will want to set it with an iron. That way, the mist won’t come off on your fingers or clothes (it dries fine on paper without heat-setting).


I loved using this mist, and the more I used it, the more I was wishing I had more colors! In the future, I definitely plan on getting some.

Pros:

  • versatile for scrapbookers, card-makers and other crafters
  • able to be used as a spray or watercolor paint
  • easily washes off hands
  • doesn’t cause a “wind” to blow masks off misting surface (doesn’t blow smaller pieces around either)

Cons:

  • difficult to gauge where mist is going (takes practice)
  • sometimes has the tendency to splatter (though when it dries, it’s much less noticeable)
  • difficult to see true color through bottle or in photos on the computer

Do you have Maya Mists? What are your favorite colors? What colors are on your wish-list? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Journaling Pens: American Crafts vs. Copic vs. ZIG

Reported by Reyanna Klein


I’m a journaler. It’s always been my favorite part of scrapbooking. I just love telling stories, and I love sharing my thoughts and observations in my scrapbooking pages. So naturally, I’ve always been interested in pens made for scrapbookers. I really wanted to find my favorite… find the best pen on the market, the pen that makes me love journaling even more.

And even if you don’t journal much in your scrapbooking and you don’t write inscriptions on the inside of your cards, perhaps having a pen you love will motivate you to *want* to write more.

I decided to do a pen comparison of the American Crafts Precision Pen, the Copic Multiliner SP, and the ZIG Millenium. I reviewed all three brands using their 0.1 and 0.5 tips.

I think it’s important to add that I didn’t really have a loyalty to any brand in particular, so I didn’t really feel a bias toward any of the three before I did this comparison.

There are different textured cardstocks out there, and most scrapbookers have a preference (I know I do!). Therefore, I decided to test three different textures: canvas, orange peel and smooth.

Here are my favorites and observations:

0.1 Tip on Canvas Textured Cardstock
My favorite of the three: Copic Multiliner SP
Observations: Although the Copic point feels delicate, it was still so soft and smooth to write with. The American Crafts Precision was nice as well, but not as smooth. The ZIG Millenium with this small tip felt coarse and rough on this texture.

0.5 Tip on Canvas Textured Cardstock
My favorite of the three: Copic Multiliner SP
Observations: Writing on canvas texture is not my favorite thing. That being said, this Copic pen made it much less painful. (Tee hee.) They all wrote roughly on this texture, but the Copic was much smoother over-all.

0.1 Tip on Orange Peel Textured Cardstock
My favorite of the three: American Crafts Precision Pen
Observations: The AC Precision wrote nice and smooth. It felt easier to write with than the other two on this texture. The ZIG was coarse, but not as much as on the canvas texture. And the Copic, though smooth, made a sound (similar to a scratching sound) as it pulled across the paper. I’m sure this is due to the fact that it has a delicate and softer tip.

0.5 Tip on Orange Peel Textured Cardstock
My favorite of the three: Copic Multiliner SP
Observations: The Copic was the sharpest of the three on this texture while still feeling smooth as I wrote. It created a very crisp line and still felt soft as butter.

0.1 Tip on Smooth Cardstock
My favorite of the three: Too hard to decide!
Observations: Eek… you know, smooth cardstock is a tough one. I suppose these pens were pretty much *made* to write on smooth cardstock, and that’s why I’m having a tough time deciding. They were all pretty good, but just different and good in their own ways. I think this really depends on how you like your pen to feel. If I had to categorize them, they would be: ZIG – hard, American Crafts – medium, Copic – soft. So I guess I’ll be like Goldilocks here and say perhaps the American Crafts would be a good “favorite” for the average scrapbooker. Not too hard, not too soft, but just right. 🙂 And I think I use all three of these… depending on what mood I’m in and if I’m writing fast, slow, cursive, doodling, etc.

0.5 Tip on Smooth Cardstock
My favorite of the three: Copic Multiliner SP
Observations: All three wrote nicely on the smooth cardstock, but I preferred the crispness of the letters and the soft butter-like feel of how this Copic wrote. I’ll use this Copic for a majority of my journaling (unless I need to switch to the 0.1 tip for smaller spaces).

And here are the specs and my observations of each brand:

ZIG Millenium – $2.99

  • pigment ink, acid-free, archival-quality, lightfast, waterproof, fade-proof, non-bleeding
  • available online and at most scrapbook and chain hobby stores
  • comes in different sizes
  • comes in different colors (and the ZIG Memory System Writers come in different colors as well)
  • rough, strong tip
  • not a smooth write
  • feels best on smooth paper

American Crafts Precision Pen – $2.29

  • acid-free, fade-proof, waterproof, non-bleeding
  • available online and at most scrapbook stores
  • comes in different sizes and colors
  • smooth, good control, strong tip (medium compared to the other two)
  • doesn’t skip/makes good, clean lines
  • feels best on smooth paper
  • 0.5 feels thicker than the other two

Copic Multiliner SP – $6.71

  • acid-free, pigment ink, water and copic proof, non-bleeding
  • available online and at some hobby stores
  • comes in different sizes and colors
  • refillable ink, replaceable nibs
  • soft, smooth tip
  • great for doodling (free-flow feel)
  • smaller tip (0.1) demands control of pen
  • smaller tip (0.1) makes a bit of a scratching noise when pulled over paper quickly
  • professional quality
  • feels good on both smooth and textured papers

Where you can buy them (some offer free shipping with $25 purchase; others offer shipping deals)…

American Crafts pens at StudioCalico.com and also at Scrapbook.com
Copic pens at CopicMarkers.com and also at JetPens.com
ZIG pens at Amazon.com and also at CreateForLess.com

All in all, I’d have to go with Copic as my go-to journaling pen… mainly, because I love the *feel* of it on paper. I do love the American Crafts as well, and the American Crafts pens do *look* best on many of the examples I gave. I’ll still keep both around for everyday use. 🙂

After I tried these Copic pens and compared it to the others, I went out and got it in three tip sizes, and I also purchased the Copic Multiliner SP Color set, which I LOVE. Yes, Copic is pricey. Yes, they are an investment. But you get what you pay for. You can FEEL the difference in these pens. If you like top-quality products and pens that write like butter, you will *not* be disappointed.

What is your favorite pen? Have you tried the Copic pens yet?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!