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Test | Best Ink Pad for a Bullet Journal or Planner

2017 is coming fast – where did 2016 go? Like many people, the new year coming means I’ve been working on setting up a new planner. You’ll be reading about my new bullet journal blog planner soon, but before I could finish it I had a lot of stamping to do. So I decided to do a test to see what was the best ink pad for a bullet journal or planner!

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black-ink-pads

In my search to find the best ink pad for my planner, I tested black inks in a wide range of types from Ranger and ColorBox:

Ranger Archival Ink in Jet Black – Scrapbook.com, A Cherry On Top, Amazon.com

ColorBox Archival Dye Ink in Wicked Black – Scrapbook.com, Amazon.com

ColorBox Fluid Chalk in Blackbird – Amazon.com

Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Black Soot – Scrapbook.com, A Cherry On Top, Amazon.com

ColorBox Pigment in Black – Amazon.com

Since all of the tested inks were black, that eliminated differences in the stamping test results from different color tones.

I also decided to test my favorite watercolor palette, the Sakura Koi 24 color Field Sketch Set, since watercolors are another way to add color to a bullet journal and I’m doing some color coding of headers.

Sakura Watercolors

To test the inks to find the best ink pad for a bullet journal, I just turned the last page of my new blog planner into a sample page. My new planner is a Moleskine Hardcover Classic Extra Large Squared journal. I stamped the ink samples onto the page with the new Hero Arts Calendar Pieces stamp set that I’m using to create my blog planner’s calendar pages.

At the bottom of the ink test, I did a couple swatches of watercolor to see how it would perform on my journal’s paper. I also stamped the winning ink from the tests at the top of the page on one of the watercolor swatches to see how they would layer.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal-test

From the front, all of the inks gave acceptable results. But what about the back? Bleed through to the reverse of the page is a big concern with stamping inks when you are using both sides of a text weight paper page.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal-test-2

The results from the back of the page were much more definitive than from the front. The top ink on the page, Tim Holtz Distress, bled through the page much less than the other inks. When stamped on top of the watercolor at the bottom of the page, it was barely visible from the back of the page.

The page also stood up well to the light application of watercolor – from the reverse of the page you can see that some slight wrinkling is evident but not enough to make the paper unusable for writing on. The watercolor showed through the paper only as a slight shadow. Compared to the more definite markings of the stamped inks, this makes it a good option for color coding headings and other items.

Below, in actual use, the difference between the inks becomes very apparent. The month/year header is in a bright blue ColorBox pigment ink, which is my go to ink when I want nice juicy color. But on this paper, the bleed through is very distinct, making it not a good choice for this application.

The Sunday and Monday headings on the top right of the page are in black ColorBox Fluid Chalk. Again, this is one of my favorite inks for when I want a nice matte finish look – but in this application it gives terrible bleed through.

The Tuesday and Wednesday headings in the upper left, along with the numbers on the calendar grid, are in black Distress ink. The difference in bleed through is quite apparent – a shadow versus the distinct, readable marks of the other two inks. The back side of this page is not perfect where those inks were stamped, but it is most definitely usable.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal

So the clear winner of best ink pad for a bullet journal or planner appears to be Tim Holtz Distress ink based on my tests in my Moleskine journal. The Moleskine’s pages are quite thin compared to many planner calendars, so the ink should perform even better in many of today’s most popular planners.

The Tim Holtz Distress inks have another feature (besides low bleed through) that makes them perfect for use in journals and planners: portability. The entire Distress palette of inks is available in 1.25″ square Mini ink pads [available ACOT, Scrapbook.com, Amazon], a very practical size for using with most planner stamps. And they can be re-inked with Distress re-inkers!

Some other inks are available in mini pads, but the Distress Minis have a secret weapon that makes them extra portable.  The affordable Distress Mini tin case [available ACOT, Scrapbook.com, Amazon] is available that securely carries a dozen of the Distress Minis – enough to keep you supplied for almost any planner project.

tim-holtz-distress-mini-storage-tin

I’m assembling myself a custom color palette in my Mini Distress Ink Storage tin that will work for the color coding that I am planning for my planner. To do this, I’ve started by purchasing two of the Distress Mini four packs: Kit #1 and Kit #14. The other four colors (black, red, purple, and probably another green) will be filled in individually, since the Distress Mini Ink Pads are now available open stock. With all of those colors, I will have a full rainbow color palette, plus black, brown and gray, for versatile planning!

tim-holtz-distress-mini-colors

What ink do you use in your planner? What do you like about it?

Shimmerz, Blingz, and Spritz and how they compare

Reported by Megan Lock

Here’s a video demonstration of three different glittery media, so you can see them in action!

Now that you’ve seen the video, below is just a quick comparison of what I talked about:

Shimmerz and Blingz
Form: aqueous liquid in plastic pot with twist-on lid
Glitter Factor: very glittery, adds an intense amount of super fine glitteriness to image
Clarity: transparent with tinting of color
Ease of use: easy, just shake before use and use a regular paint brush, minimal clean up
Availability: not at large retailers, seen at some local craft stores.
Cost: $2.79-$3.95

This is a very cool product. It’s very unique and provides endless outlets for your creativity. You can use it on paper, but you can also it on almost all surfaces, metal, wood, fabric, felt, etc. One of my favorite techniques is to shimmer up some flower embellishments. You can also take your scrap paper, cover it with Shimmerz, and punch out different shapes for some beautiful embellishments, too. There are a lot of options with this product!

Also, this company produces Spritz, glittery, shimmery spray that you can spray onto the surface of your project, if you’d prefer to avoid the paintbrush. The spray provides a lot of glitter and shimmer, but it’s a little less dense than your average coating of the Shimmerz. If you like to support American based companies, you’ll be glad to know that these products are made here in the USA.

Pros:

  • use over colored image for REAL sparkle
  • can be used over variety of color mediums (copics, colored pencils, etc.)
  • variety of colors
  • made in the USA

Cons:

  • aqueous-based, use caution when using over water colors, can smear color
  • if used too heavily will cause paper to ripple

Twinkling H2Os
Form: solid cake in plastic pot with twist-on lid
Glitter Factor: mild and variable, more water = less glitter, less water = more glitter
Clarity: variable with quantity of water used, though on average provides deep, rich color with mild sparkle
Ease of use: moderate, requires water coloring skills, need to prep color before use
Availability: not at large retailers, seen at some local craft stores.
Cost: large pots $3.60 each, also available in kits.

Smooches
Form: liquid, about the consistency of nail polish, in plastic bottle with twist-on lid with applicator
Glitter Factor: mild, the silver gives more of a metallic finish than glittery
Clarity: opaque
Ease of use: easy, applicator included, no mess to clean up after use
Availability: not a large retailers, possibly at some local craft stores, though new product so availablity may be limited.
Cost: $4.50

Here are the products in action. I have three cards using each of these products.

This card shows the Twinkling H2Os used as water colors:

Gina K and Verve stamps

I used Shimmerz on Ketto’s dress:

Stamping Bella, Ketto

This close up shows some of the shimmer:



Lastly, I used the Smooches to color in the little dots on the Javabug’s dress and hat:

Stamping Bella, Huggabugs

Shimmerz and Luminarte also produce glitter or shimmer sprays to add more shimmer to your project. How do you use these products? Have your tried all of them? Do you have a favorite?
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!