Stamp Ink: What Are the Differences?

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Article Courtesy by Patter Cross

Chalk ink, dye ink, pigment ink, StazOn, VersaMark-what are all of these inks? Which ones do you need? What is the difference between them all? In this article I will explain what each type of ink is and how you would use it.

Chalk Inks

Chalk inks are archival, acid-free, and fast-drying, and they give a soft look. You can use them on wood, leather, paper, and more! You can heat-set chalk inks to enhance the permanence. These are great for distressing your papers and using background stamps along with regular stamping. The inking surface is usually a sponge. Brands include:

Colorbox Fluid Chalk


VersaMagic Chalk Ink


Dye Inks

Dye inks are water-based and are permanent once they are stamped on papers. This is a great general-purpose ink that can be used on all types of papers and is great for everyday stamping and scrapbooking. Dye-base inks will fade over time. These are harder to use for embossing because they dry quite fast; however, Ranger Distress Inks and Nick Bantock inks tend to dry a bit slower so they may be used for embossing. These are great for distressing your papers, and I love to use them when I color with my Copic markers or Prismacolor pencils. The inking surface is usually raised felt. Brands include:

Nick Bantock


Ranger Distress Ink


Pigment Inks

Pigment inks are wonderful to use on clay, mica, wood, paper, shrink plastic, and more. Pigment inks are thick and fade-resistant. The inking surface is usually a sponge because it is thicker and distributed better over a sponge. They are also archival and acid-free, and are perfect for embossing! Pigment ink will not dry on coated papers unless you emboss the image. Brands include:

Tsukineko Brilliance Pigment Ink


Adirondack Pigment Ink



StazOn inks are acid-free, archival, and dry within three to five minutes. StazOn is perfect for surfaces such as transparencies, vellum, glass, tile, metal, plastic, and more! StazOn will stain your stamps so you will need to get a StazOn specific cleaner.




VersaMark is a clear pigment ink, and is great for watermarking or embossing. I also love to use it with my dye inks. I ink up my stamp with VersaMark first, and then I can use dye inks with it to emboss. This method works beautifully.



I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between inks. I know I personally have all of the inks listed in this article, and I use them all for different purposes. I love all of the colors too. Be sure to read when purchasing a specific brand of ink to make sure it is what you are looking for. This article just touches on a few brands but there are many more available. Happy stamping!


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