Craft Product Review: Tim Holtz’ Metallic Distress Stains by Ranger


Some time ago we reviewed Distress Stains by Ranger and you got to see the wonderful semi-transparent color in a dauber bottle. Now, Ranger has released three new signature Tim Holtz products in this line- Metallic Distress Stains in Antique Brass, Tarnished Bronze, and Brushed Pewter.

So let’s take a nice close look! First, here’s how they are described on the website:

This special water-based metallic formula was developed to react with Distress Stains and Distress Inks and add a nostalgic metallic sheen to surfaces.

These new vintage metallic hues are fluid dyes for papers and other porous surfaces. Combine with the Distress Stain 37 color palette for quick and easy ink coverage on backgrounds and larger areas. Apply layers of Stain to achieve more saturated color. Distress Stains coordinate with the complete line of products including Distress Inks, Distress Markers, Distress Crackle Paint, Distress Embossing Powders, and Distress Stickles.

• Acid free, non-toxic
• Fade-resistant dyes
• Dabber top with spring valve control
• Available in 1 fl. oz. bottles

As I mentioned, this is a dauber bottle that has a valve to keep it from gushing out.

Since the MDS are opaque, there are particles that need to be mixed before use. I gave the bottles a nice 10-15 second shake- I could hear the ball bearing inside the bottle rattling around. Then you have to get the stain started. As you can see in the above photo, initially there is no ink on the felt dauber tip. You have to pounce the tip and squeeze slightly to get the Distress Stain flowing.

I was so curious about this product, I bought a set of all three Metallic Distress Stain colors. So of course, I had to do swatch testing on all three colors.

From top: Bronze, Pewter, Brass.

You can see that there is a real (and lovely) metallic shine. And even with just one coat, it covered the black paper well.

On the above swatches, you can see that some of the print on the scrapbooking paper is still visible. One coat of Metallic Distress stains is semi-opaque. If you want more of a thorough coverage, you must use two coats.

Two coats give a deeper, richer color as well as providing better coverage.

With my esoteric swatch testing done, I felt like it was time to experiment a bit more. After all, this is a water-based product, so I wonder how it spread with water on wet and dry surfaces.

As you can see, water spritzed on the MDS after applied to dry paper will make it bleed with spidery lines. (A very cool effect.) However, if you moisten the paper first and then apply the Distress Stain, the color and the metallic particles almost separate a bit on the surface, creating a mottled effect.

Next, I wanted to see just how “permanent” Metallic Distress Stains were when dried and heat set. This is common referred to as “water reactivity.”

As you can see from the photo, the Metallic Distress Stains reacted with water (in this case, a wet paintbrush) both when the MDS was air-dried and when heat set. This lets us know that if you continue to layer Metallic Distress Stains with other water-based mists or inks, there is a risk of bleeding.

One last thing I wanted to see before I moved on was how the MDS worked OVER a misted/inked surface.

MDS appled over a Tattered Angels mists.

By this point in my testing, I had quite a few pieces of Stained pieces…but hadn’t made anything FUN! So I played and made some cards.

Here, I used embossed kraft paper and then used the Pewter Metallic Distress Stain over everything. Then I used an Archival Ink pad to hit the high spots. I love the metallic shimmer and shine.

Next, I used some of my samples to make this other card. I really loved the look of layering the MDS over the top of spray mists.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but I the small snowflakes in the corner were made from white cardstock with Pewter MDS applied to it. Subtle, but lovely!

So here’s the skinny- if you don’t have any other Distress Stains in your crafty tool box, you’ll want the Metallic ones. You can layer and blend them using any watercolor media: mists, inks, watercolors- they are so versatile! And I love how you can control the depth of color and opacity by using one coat or two.

I’m seeing them online for an average of $5 USD per container, but that 1 ounce bottle goes a long way. You can find some deals for buying the pack of three, too. I’m looking forward to playing with them a bit more and adding that extra metallic sheen to my projects.

OH! I almost forgot! Sara shot this video at CHA last summer with Tim demonstrating the Metallic Distress Stains. Take a look for even more inspiration!

I’d love to hear any questions or comments you might have about Tim Holtz Metallic Distress Stains in the comments section below.

Disclosure: I purchased this product and have no connection to the company.

If you’d like to purchase any Distress Stains, please support CTD and use our affiliate links:

About Jenny

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.


  1. Kirsten Alicia says

    Your samples are gorgeous. I have’t had as much time as I’d like to play with my MDS, but I love them – especially the cool effect you get when you ‘splat’ them onto a background.

  2. Marilyn Hughes says

    In order to make them more permanent and not react to an accidental application of water after they are dried, can they be sprayed with some type of sealant? Will that alter the color any (say using a matte sealant).

  3. says

    Marilyn- it would really depend on the sealent you are using. Do a small swatch test before you commit. I would just be sure that the Distress Stains are the last layer you apply. Good luck!

  4. Caryn S. (Scrapnsing) says

    I got these recently as part of a RAK. Really cool stuff, haven’t used them a lot but I did test them out a bit to see what they could do. They would be spectacular on steam punk or Christmas projects.

  5. debb says

    Thank you for this great review! I love the distress stains (wish I had them all!) and had not seen the metallic s- now I need them!


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