Friday, 29 June 2012

Cardmaking Online - Distress Ink Tutorial

On behalf of Cardmaking Online I have created this tutorial to showcase Tim Holtz Distress Inks. Distress Inks are a collection of 36 acid-free, non-toxic, fade resistant, water-based dye inks. They’re perfect for creating new vintage, stained or aged effects on altered books, scrapbook pages, cards and paper craft projects. These inks produce a realistic, weathered look on paper, photos and decorative fibers. The colorful Distress Inks afford added versatility when photo tinting and color layering and the 2" x 2" pads are made with a higher raised felt for easier use with direct to paper techniques. And when the ink pads become a little dry you can replenish them with Distress Reinkers.

In this tutorial I have used five different Distress Inks to decorate a tag. I have used a few different application techniques to create different textures and effects.

To achieve a great result with these inks I recommend using medium to heavy weight card, especially if layering a few inks as the ink stays wet longer than other inks. I also recommend usig a non-stick craft sheet to protect your work surface.

Please read all instructions before commencing

Photograph 1


1.  To apply Distress Ink to card using the blending technique, as I did to the above tag, dab your sponging block (or blending tool) onto a Distress Ink pad then working in a circular motion apply the ink to all the edges of the tag. Start working on your non-stick craft sheet  then gradually circle the sponge over the edges of your project and work your way in. 

This is a great way to give an 'aged' appearance to your project, including photographs and patterned paper.

In this first step I used antique linen ink to sponge the edges (photograph 1) then blended brushed corduroy ink over the top and towards the centre of the tag (photograph 2).  I recommend applying your lightest ink first then bring in touches of darker ink, as I did in photographs 2 and 3 below.

Photograph 2

Photograph 3

 2.  In photograph 3 I very lightly blended aged mahogony ink across the whole tag, again using a sponging block, paying particular attention to the edges. You can see where the ink has intensified where it has touched a slight crease on the tag.


Photograph 4

3.  To add a more of a 'distressed' look to my tag I wiped fired brick ink directly onto my non-stick craft sheet then placed the tag in the ink before carefully lifting it off (photograph 4). I had a couple of un-inked areas on the tag so I simply placed those areas back onto any left over ink on the sheet.

Photograph 5


4.  Whilst the fired brick ink was still wet I used my Mini mister bottle to give the tag a light spray with water, which intensified the colour, then I flicked a few drops of water onto the tag to create a weathered effect. What I especially love about these inks is that they were made to be used with water - the inks will "wick" and travel across the surface of your project when spritzed with water creating several tone on tones; however the colors will not break down when wet.

Direct to Paper

5.  As a final touch I wiped vintage photo ink over the very edges of the tag using the ink pad (photograph 5).

So you can see in just a couple of minutes a plain tag can be brought to life with lots of colour and a couple of quick and simple techniques. You can use as many inks as you like, I chose to layer eathy colours but there are many pretty colours available including hues of blue, green, pink and yellow.
Distress Ink can also be applied to a number of mediums including Distress Crackle Paint, ribbon and many fibers. It can be used to great effect on satin flowers too. On this occasion I used it to hand-dye a flower I had die-cut out of white tissue paper using my Cuttlebug machine and a Marianne Design Creatable rose die. I double-distressed the flower by scrunching it up first before sponging on a small quantity of antique linen ink. I then sponged on a little fired brick ink and assembled the flower by securing it in the middle with a small brad then glued it to the tag along with a hand cut stem and leaf.

And here is the finished tag...

Sponging block / Blending tool
Tissue paper


  1. Great tutorial - thanks for sharing! x

  2. Great work Vicky thanks so much for sharing, and have great weekend too! Shaz in Oz.,x

  3. Great tutorial Vicky, I have never tried this before and I wondered how people did it. I must give this a go.