Thursday, 25 February 2016

Distress Ink Alternative

I've noticed for a while, a trend for card demonstrators to use 'Distress Inks' to create softly blended backgrounds or areas for cards.
Often we see that the demonstrator has a vast collection of inks (not to mention stamps and dies!) that most of us would sell our souls, spouses and children for. While they may make very interesting and informative videos, they are often in the business, their supplies are business expenses, not personal purchases like ours.
Of course, when you try to make a similar card, you don't have the supplies. Never the right colour or type of ink, is often going to be the case.

As someone who has a vast range of colouring methods at my disposal, one thing I don't have is distress ink, neither, because of the aforementioned supplies, can I condone myself buying any. Yes, I can airbrush but for a 30 second job, don't always want to.

So today, I was considering what distress inks are. They have to have some kind of water base, as they appear to be water rather than oil blended. I tried out straight watercolour, sponged or smoothed on with a variety of tools but ended up with very unsatisfactory results. In a lot of cases, the paper pilled and looked terrible, because of the friction of rubbing paint on, even gently. Hmm. That didn't work.

I then thought of something else to try. I have a few embossing inks, and I remember that distress inks can also emboss - so they must have something in them that stays wet. Glycerine came to mind. A water soluble oil. An oxymoron if ever there was one, but a very useful oxymoron.

So I tried mixing glycerine with my normal ink pad ink, palette watercolours and liquid watercolour.
It works. You can even sprinkle on water and blot it off, another popular technique. To see how I applied it, have a look at the video, it couldn't get much easier. Even works with washable felt tip pens (AKA  children's pens!) Problem solved, money saved for much more important things, like UV light bulbs, black vinyl...

So, if you have ANY form of watercolour, think about giving it a try, unless you have loads of distress inks, in which case you probably won't like me much!


  1. Where do you get glycerine? I understand you are in Spain, as I am, so I was wondering if it is a product you can get at the standard supermarket! Or where you buy it hehe. I am definitelly going to try this out as I personally find distress inks way too expensive but I have had a difficult time finding a good subsitute. Thank you

    1. Very easy to get if you know where to ask - the local pharmacy will have it. Don't expect to see it on the shelf, it won't be there. I got a 500ml bottle for around €5. (Glicerina)
      You can also get it in places like Hypercor - food grade is sold for use in cake decoration etc - but it is much dearer and I'm all for saving money!
      If you haven't done so, subscribe to my YT channel and you will find many videos on alternatives for various things!

    2. Local pharmacy it is then! Thank you! Yes, I am already subscribed to your YT channel, I like these kind of ideas a lot!