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Direct-to-Paper Inking Direct-to-Paper Inking
LeNae Gerig
Direct-to-Paper Inking

by LeNae Gerig, Hot Off The Press
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What’s a fast way to add a little extra dimension to your scrapbook pages? Here’s a tip: It’s a quick technique with a funny name that’s easy, inexpensive, and absolutely indispensable! It’s called “direct-to-paper inking” and it’s one of my favorite scrapbooking tricks.

What’s “direct-to-paper inking”?

The name might sound technical, but direct-to-paper inking is simply applying ink directly from a rubber stamp ink pad onto your paper. That’s it! I like to use black or brown ink to edge my papers, or journaling to add definition and help them stand out from whatever kind of paper I’m placing them on. It’s a little thing, but it adds a nice finishing touch to my layout and helps it go from “so-so” to fabulous.

The difference is subtle but adds a polished effect to a layout. LeNae inked the edge of her matted photo in the page on the right.

Direct-to-paper inking techniques

Edging your paper.

My favorite method is to ink just the edges of my paper. It creates a second mat for my paper or journaling without actually matting. To ink the edges, simply hold your paper at an upright angle and run it against the edge of your ink pad. When you hold the paper upright, it probably won’t look much different...but place your inked piece on top of another paper (after it’s dry, of course!) and you’ll see the edge.

This technique works great on torn edges, too!

Heavier inked edges.

Want to add even more color to the edges of your paper? Simply place your paper face up on your work surface, on top of a piece of scratch paper. Remove the lid of your ink pad and turn it upside down. Gently tap it onto the edge of your paper. See how it looks. Do you want more color? Just repeat! For a different effect, you can also skim the ink pad across the paper. The amount of pressure you use is key in determining the outcome.


Ready to take direct-to-paper inking to another level? Try distressing your paper before inking for an even more dimensional look. Crumple your paper (yes, go ahead and crumple it up into a ball - it's a great stress reliever!), then uncrumple and smooth the paper down. Place it on a flat work surface, with a piece of scrap paper underneath, then skim the ink pad over the top of the paper. The creases you’ve created will get more coverage, resulting in peaks and valleys of color on your paper.

What do you need?

All you need is your paper and a rubber stamping ink pad.

There are a lot of different types of ink pads to choose from, including dye-based, solvent and pigment-based - it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Here are the basics: Dye-based inks are fast-drying and work well with the direct-to-paper technique. You can use them on any type of paper. Solvent ink pads simply refer to those that can be used on non-porous surfaces. Pigment ink pads are really slow to dry and some dry only when heat-set so I don’t generally recommend pigment-based inks for the direct-to-paper technique. I don’t have the patience!

I like StazOn Ink Pads, which I can use for direct-to-paper inking. I can also use this ink to stamp on non-porous surfaces like metal or transparent overlays. While it’s fun to play with all the different ink pad colors out there, I use Jet Black and Timber Brown ink pads most often. They’re classic colors and I know they’ll go with everything. They’re also dark enough to stand out from any color of paper.

Another favorite is Tim Holtz’s line of Distress Inks. They come in all different colors, but my favorites are Black Soot and Walnut Stain.

Whatever ink pad you choose, it’s best to test the ink pad first on a piece of scrap paper before you use it in your scrapbook. As you might guess, ink can’t be erased, so you’ll want to start with a light touch and add more. I’ve found that the more I use my ink pads, the better I know how much pressure to apply for which effect. New ink pads are “juicy,” so use a light touch. In time, the ink pad will become a bit drier, so you’ll need to use more pressure.

A word of warning!

As I mentioned, ink is not erasable, so be careful what you touch during and after inking. Always remember to let your paper dry before handling it or before placing it on another paper. (It generally takes less than a minute to dry.) It’s easy to get ink on your fingers or hands and you don’t want to transfer that to another surface...like your white shirt! I generally keep a paper towel or a package of baby wipes by my side so I can keep my hands clean.

It’s fast, it’s easy - and I’ve found direct-to-paper inking to be one of my must-have scrapbooking techniques! Try it for yourself…I think you’ll discover it’s absolutely indispensable!

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