Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Disastrous Docraft Ink Pads and My Alternatives!

You'd better grab a comfy chair and your drink of choice, this is going to be a long one!

Having managed to make some usable photopolymer stamps, I  thought it about time I tested them out with something other than a black Memento ink pad.

 I am normally a patient person but when it comes to getting my supplies, I'd really rather go in a shop and buy them, not order and wait. To this end, I visited our one local art supply shop. The lady in there is very nice but to be honest the amount of stock is depressingly low, so I didn't hold up much hope of a large range of ink pads and I was right. I really wanted a Versamark watermark pad but the only ones there, were a few small Docraft pads. I did manage to find a clear one and then chose a gold, mainly because although I have gold paint, I wanted to see how well a pigment pad worked with embossing powder.

A friend had brought me some embossing powders from the UK  and I had yet to try them out, so I hurried home, anticipating having some fun messing around.

I broke the seal on the wrappers and eagerly opened the clear one. I pressed a finger into it and it came away dry. Hmm. Thinking it was maybe meant to be that way, I chose a stamp and pressed the pad against it. Pressed the stamp onto some white paper and looked to see any change. None. Hmm. I tried adding some embossing powder, just in case there was something there. No. Nothing happened. Strike one. Useless. I let it sit upside down for a couple of hours, just in case and tried again. Nothing.

Ok, so for the second pad. Took the lid off. Pressed a finger in, only to find virtually no ink. What? Again? It wouldn't stamp. Now let me say, that in case you are thinking that the stamp is faulty, it isn't. Using normal ink it stamps just fine. No, it was another dry pad. Strike two.

Now maybe, these are old stock, I have no idea, but there are no expiry dates on them for me to find out.
I can't possibly recommend these things since they were unusable. Ink pads are made to dispense ink and these don't!

So, by this time, I wanted to go ahead, so I used my stash of glycerin to wet the clear pad until I could use it. Then I used some acrylic old gold liquid paint and some more glycerin to wet the gold pad. Eventually I had enough in it to stamp with but many people would have no idea that they could do that and in any case, why should they?

I almost didn't bother but I decided to go back to the shop and was given a refund. The owner tried out some more of her stock and got the same problem. Not a one off then. I wrote an email to Docraft and so far have had no reply. Not even acknowledgement.
So, in light of this complete failure, I proceeded to make my own versions and guess what? They actually work.
It looks odd because it is actually a sparkly one.

Now I am sure that most of you happy stampers buy ink pads on a regular basis but if you find yourself without for any reason, be it lack of shops or whatever, you probably either have or can easily get these simple supplies. This gives lots of alternatives, you don't need all of it!

Kitchen/bath sponges - the sort with a scrubbing side and soft are fine.
Glycerin - usually sold in supermarkets or chemists, often used in making fondant.
Water colour or gouache - tubed is easiest. Any cheap ones will do. Don't bother using best quality, you don't need to. Watercolour is transparent, gouache is not.
A glass coaster/ceramic tile or small china saucer.
Cocktail sticks for mixing
Small pots, as in lip balm sized, or even empty glitter/ powder pots.
Children's washable felt tips.
Alcohol markers.
Pens used for blackboards (especially white!)
Liquid acrylic paints.

Cut some pieces of foam to fit your pots, allowing it to raise slightly above the lip but not so far that you can't get the lid on again.

The main thing to remember is that it is the glycerin that makes it all work. Without that, your paints will dry too fast to add the embossing powder.

Embossing with White

There are two ways of doing this, depending on the surface area of the stamp.  The obvious one is to take your coaster and add about 1 part glycerin to 3 or 4 parts white gouache and mix with a cocktail stick. Use one of your foam filled pots to soak it all up and put a lid on. We are talking tiny amounts here, like 1cm paint and 1 drop of glycerin! The same formulae can be used for any colour you care to mix, you can just use it from the coaster if you don't want to store it.

The second way, for small text stamps for example, is to use the blackboard pen directly on the stamp. It should be wet enough (and is water based) for you to get embossing powder on it before it dries.  This has the advantage of being usable on non porous surfaces, such as acetate, without a problem but is not suitable if you only want to ink something, as it can rub off. Available in a range of colours too - and a fine nib version if you just wanted to write and emboss. No glycerin needed.

This was a test swatch, I did not use anti static measures!

If you don't want to emboss, then there is no need to add the glycerin, a tiny drop of water can be used to dilute the paint if needed. Indeed, glycerin could cause the watercolours to stay wet too long if you are not embossing!

Using cheap felt tips

Scribble some colour onto the coaster /tile/saucer. Add 1 drop glycerin and mix. Use a small bit of sponge to apply it to your stamp. It will look as if nothing is there, but it will stamp just fine. You can still emboss it. I've done some very pretty effects with that method.

Alcohol markers

Yes, you can use those in exactly the same way! Great for all those who are into colouring already.

Liquid acrylic paints can be used in the same way as watercolour, so this gives access to metallics.

The advantage of all these is not only price but the ability to make custom colours or to top up old ink pads. If your pads dry out, you can rinse and repeat or just add more paint and or glycerin!

Empty gel pens and felt tips

These can be cleaned out and the ink replaced with glycerin, making a great heat embossing ink pen. If you have strong watercolour inks, you can add a drop of those to colour it too. I use a syringe to refill them.

I have a load of tiny bottles that look like eye dropper bottles. I use them to dispense the glycerine in tiny amounts. Simply squeeze the bottle, put it into the jar of glycerin and allow it to suck it up and your bottle is filled, ready to use.

If you want to do a lot of small colours on a project, but not keep them,  use a large ceramic tile to mix colours in tiny batches.


When it comes to powders, I am sticking to just a few, clear, white, black and copper. It is worth noting that you can add mica or glitter for extra va va Voom, in small amounts to your embossing powders and they will stick in the same way.

UPDATE  Finally had a reply from Docrafts  (26th Oct)  - Considering the pad was made in China- I guess they just buy them and have their own label put on.

Thank you for contacting the Ecrafters support team. Apologies for the delay in responding to your query, we have recently been receiving especially large volumes of enquiries and have been working hard to meet the increased demand for help. We deal with every enquiry as quickly as possible however during busy periods response times may increase and we appreciate your patience and understanding.

I am very sorry to hear you are disappointed with your recent docrafts purchase. We take quality control very seriously at docrafts and aim for the highest standards and thank you for bringing it to our attention. Retailers do let us know if there are any issues with products so that we can resolve them. However, as a distributer to trade, we are unable to deal with individual product issues directly because we cannot split down bulk volumes to replace/exchange single items and cannot issue refunds for products which were not purchased from us directly.

If you ever experience any problems with a purchase you are entitled to an exchange or replacement (within the qualifying period) from the retailer you purchased it from. They are ultimately responsible for resolving your problem, but they are also in a much better position to be able to. Dealing with the shop you purchased from would be a simpler and quicker way to resolve your issue and we suggest contacting them directly to discuss your options.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Autumnal Birthday Card Test Run!

I really didn't have a need to make a card today but since I'd not done a blog post for a few days, thought I would see what I came up with that you may find interesting.

This is the result.

As you can see, I have yet to get the hang of heat embossing words! It would have helped if I'd lined them up properly.  That was my fifth attempt. No matter what I did, either the powder went all over the place or failed to stick at all... Definitely needs practice (or a proper watermark pad)...I did use powder on the card but I must be particularly static today.

The floral background was a piece I had already  - a play session with Sea Foam embossing powder and watercolours.

 Embroidery backing is used to make the leaves, it gives them just the right texture and they too,  are coloured with watercolour paints. These just happened to be from a stash I had made a while back, see, using up leftovers!  I love the softness of the pinks, blues and apricot.

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Short Break!

For anyone who thinks I've suddenly gone quiet....

I  have a visitor due tomorrow, and although I shall be doing a lot of crafting, I won't have so much chance to blog or post videos for a couple of weeks.  Don't worry, I'll be back soon, hopefully with some new ideas!  I'm also hoping to persuade hubby to rig up an overhead camera mount at some point, to make craft videos a lot easier...shhh.. don't tell him, he has to think it's HIS idea!