One way to add flair to your handmade creations is by using ink blending tools. These tools help give your designs added dimension and texture while also giving them a unique and personalized look. In the paper crafting community, there is a never-ending quest for finding the perfect materials. Regardless of what you're making, whether it’s a card, a scrapbook, or a journal, customizing handmade projects can be a tricky process. Numerous paper crafting products on the market make it easier to get creative with your projects and try new techniques. An ink blending brush can help elevate your handmade project and turn it from zero to 100. Let’s find out which tool suits your needs!
What is an ink blending tool?
An ink blending tool is, as the name suggests, a tool used for blending ink onto a surface. This is usually a small tool with a wooden handle on one end and a removable thin foam on the other end. You can easily replace or remove the velcro-attached foam applicator, so there’s no need to buy one tool for each ink color. You can buy these foam applicators in packs of 5, 10, or more. They are relatively easy to clean and can last long with proper care.
How do you blend ink?
Before you start your quest for the best blending brush in the market, it’s essential to learn the basics. How do you blend ink? Although it is a relatively easy technique, there are a few things to remember.
- Place your cardstock or paper on your work surface. Secure it with low-tack adhesives.
- Next, add your chosen ink color to your ink blending brush by pressing it onto the ink pad and swiping it from left to right or in a circular motion.
- Another way is to directly apply ink onto your work surface by swiping the ink pad onto it, then picking up the ink with your tool.
- Press your blending tool an inch or two from the corner of your cardstock, making circular motions.
- Continue making the same circular motions as you move closer toward the edge of your cardstock.
- Keep on blending the ink toward the direction that you want. This will depend on your design or pattern. To create an ink blended background, you usually start from the corner and work your way across and toward the middle. Others prefer to work from the corner toward the center.
Types of Ink Blending Tools
If you have been in the cardmaking scene for a while, you know that there are tons of blending tools out there. The best ones might be a little over your budget, but you can be sure of their quality. Since you will use these tools for a long time, it’s better to find one you’re comfortable with and won’t break after a few uses. Let's dive in!
1. Ink Blending Tools
Every crafter has a blending tool or two in their stash. This is a staple in every cardmaker’s kit. The original mini ink blending tools by Tim Holtz are undeniably the most popular ones. It features a wooden handle and has velcro in the bottom. It comes with a flat round foam that you can stick to the velcro. There are refills available for these foams.
- Since it is velcro, you can replace the foam applicator in between colors.
- It is relatively inexpensive.
- Make sure you have extra refills of the foam applicator.
- The foam applicator needs to be saturated with ink.
- Your hand might cramp up a bit if you use this blending tool a lot.
- The handle is hard to grip for some people.
- There were some complaints about the velcro peeling up and the soft velcro side detaching from the sponge.
Scrapbook.com released their version of Ranger’s mini ink blending tools - the domed blending pads. Their main selling point is that they are easier to use with dye inks and pigment inks. The domed blending pad lasts a bit longer, but it is a bit pricier. Each blending tool has three layers: a domed foam, a stiff center, and the felt that attaches to the velcro. Some crafters call this version 2.0 of the famous Tim Holtz tool.
- It glides effortlessly.
- It is easier to blend inks using this tool.
- It doesn’t create harsh lines like the original ones from Tim Holtz.
- It is more expensive than most tools in the market.
- The handle isn’t ergonomic, so it’s still hard to grip for most crafters.
2. Blending Brushes
An ink blending brush has the same features as a standard ink blending tool but with a modern design. Instead of the usual flat foam at the bottom of the handle, it has a soft brush.
- These brushes are ergonomically designed.
- They are washable and easy to clean.
- They have high-density bristles.
- Great for older crafters who find the blending tool and finger daubers challenging to hold and control.
- They are environmentally friendly.
- It is a bit pricier than other brushes for blending ink.
- You need to wait for it to dry completely before using them again.
- You need to have a dedicated brush for each color or color family.
Here’s a quick unboxing video featuring Altenew’s ergonomically designed ink blending brushes!
How do you use an ink blending brush?
- Take the brush out of its caddy or container.
- Press it onto your ink pad, and swipe it from left to right. Make sure that it is fully saturated with ink. You want your brush to be juicy and wet.
- Start by tapping off some excess ink on your work surface.
- Then, continue blending the ink on your cardstock or paper. Make sure that you are light-handed and maintain the same pressure and speed.
- When you’re done, clean the brush using warm water and mild soap or a stamp cleaner.
3. Make-up Brushes / Paddle Brushes
You’ve probably seen those make-up paddle brushes in a cosmetic store, a make-up kiosk, or a beauty influencer’s stash. The same paddle brushes can be repurposed and used as blending brushes for ink. It has soft bristles, adds colors nicely, and is excellent for a bolder and intense look.
- It has soft and dense bristles, so you get a smoother look.
- It is easy to clean (just rub it off a scrap piece of paper).
- It is cheaper, so you can have a dedicated brush for each color family.
- Its handle isn’t ergonomic and will make your hand hurt, especially if you have arthritis.
- It takes a long time to dry.
4. Craft Sponge Daubers / Finger Daubers
A craft sponge dauber might look like it’s too tiny, but this little tool might surprise you! It comes in a plastic tube with a hole on one end and foam attached to the other end. It comes in different sizes and is excellent for blending ink on smaller areas. The small finger daubers are ideal for harder-to-reach areas, especially when using an intricate stencil.
Watch the video below and learn how to blend ink in three different ways, using three different types of tools!
How do you clean an ink blending tool?
With ink blending tools, you can just replace the foam applicator once they’re worn out. You can clean it by wiping off the excess ink on a piece of paper towel or scrap paper. It isn’t advisable to wash the foam applicator. For ink blending brushes, simply rinse with gentle soap and water, and let them air dry.
If you’re in the market for the best blending brush or tool, you need to figure out which one suits your needs. Whether you want something that covers large surface areas quickly or requires more precision when applying your color combinations, it pays off to get the right tools for the job. We hope you found some helpful tips on finding the perfect blending tool and putting them into action! Don't let all those hours you’ve spent making your crafting projects go to waste because of lackluster blending! With any of the tools we’ve mentioned here, you'll be able to create gorgeous ink blends with ease every single time.