Craft Product Review: Ranger Archival Ink Pads


I started out my crafting days in stamping, and though I took several years off from stamping, I eventually made my way back, and I have never been more addicted to stamps than I am now! Of course with that comes a need for many different types of ink pads, to serve different needs.  When my permanent black ink pad finally dried up, I decided to try out what so many of my artsy friends had recommended to me – Ranger’s Archival Inkpad.  And oh my – I will never go back!  In fact, I had mentioned on so many occasions just how much I liked it, that Jenny asked me to write a review on it…and that’s when I remembered that Ranger had recently re-formulated their Archival Ink, as well as released 18 NEW COLORS of their Archival Ink pads.

To start off, you should know that all 24 colors come in the regular sized ink pad, and 6 of the colors come in a Jumbo sized ink pad – especially nice for inking your background stamps!  From the Ranger website:

Archival Inksâ„¢ provide lasting stamping results that are permanent on many surfaces. Get a crisp image that doesn’t bleed over water-based inks and markers, acrylic paint, water colors, Adirondack® Alcohol Ink or Perfect Pearlsâ„¢ pigment powders. Available in 24 vibrant shades in a standard size stamp pad.

• Acid free • Non-toxic • Waterproof • Permanent on matte and gloss papers • Air dries on matte surfaces • Heat set on glossy surfaces

I was so excited, it was hard to know where to begin!  But first, let me show you some swatch tests.  I used the Manganese Blue color, which is a lovely true-blue shade.

You can see that on all of the white mediums, the blue really stands out.  I especially like how bright it is on the glossy cardstock.  There was no bleeding on any of the substrates as far as the actual stamped image, and the only two that bled through to the surface below were the tissue paper and mulberry paper.  You will notice that there IS no stamped image on the foil tape sheet.  There WAS at one time.  I stamped an image three days ago.  And heat set it.  Today when I took the photos, it smeared right off.  (I guess this is why the packaging for the foil tape sheets says to color it with alcohol inks or acrylic paint, and doesn’t mention coloring it with Archival Ink….)  The Tim Holtz Kraft Glassine Paper is interesting…you stamp the image and then heat set it…the surface of the paper actually appears wet, and the ink sort of settles right into the surface of the paper as it cools.  The vellum took the longest to dry (aside from the foil tape, which never technically “dried”). I was interested in the idea of the ink not bleeding with Adirondack Alcohol Ink– because I know that in the past, the Archival Ink was actually known for NOT being compatible with alcohol ink…in fact, it was specifically known TO react with alcohol ink.  So I gave it a try on a couple surfaces and with a couple different methods.

Archival Ink with Adirondack Alcohol Inks

On the far left is a glossy ATC, where I simply dripped the Alcohol Ink onto the card and let it dry, then stamped over it with a circle stamp in Manganese Blue Archival Ink.  In the past, the Archival Ink was known to actually remove alcohol inks, but there was none of that here.  It really created a gorgeous effect once the ink dried!  In the middle, I stamped with Sepia Archival Ink onto a piece of glossy cardstock.  I colored it in using Adirondack Alcohol Inks, using a water-brush filled with Alcohol Blending Solution.  You can see there was absolutely NO bleeding from the Archival Ink!! On the far right, I stamped on a manila tag using the Jet Black Archival Ink, and colored it in using the same method.  I was impressed that even with the black, there was still only the slightest bit of bleeding in a couple small places.  (In fact, you may have to click to make it larger to even be able to see it.)

I don’t have any Copic markers to be able to test those…but it would be worth a try for those of you who have them, I would think! Now, one of the most exciting thing for ME about having a permanent ink in so many colors is the ability to use them under water-based mediums and techniques…so I definitely wanted to give them a good test in this capacity.  I decided to color in my butterfly using my Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils.  These are a perfect match for the Archival Inks, because like the Ink, the Inktense pencils, wet to an actual ink, and when dry, are permanent!  So they are a perfect choice for working as a base layer under other mediums in a multi-layered project or mixed media project.  I stamped the butterfly on Sticky-Back canvas before using the watercolor pencils.

Aquamarine Archival Ink on Sticky-Back Canvas ATC

Archival Ink-stamped butterfly painted in with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils

You can see that there was no bleeding of the Archival Ink when I added the water, and the image remained nice and crisp. I did, however, run into a bit of bleeding with a different color of the Archival Ink, also stamped on the Sticky-Back Canvas, when I added water to use my Faber-Castell watercolor pencils.  The color was Deep Purple, and I only had the problem on the canvas – not on any other surfaces.  I did heat set the ink, but that did not help, unfortunately.  I tried several colors, and the purples were the only colors that I had this problem with.

Deep Purple Archival Ink shows bleeding when water was added on Sticky-Back Canvas; but no bleeding on manila tag

I decided to try another technique which would add water over the Archival Ink, which would definitely test the waterproof quality in an even bigger way.  First, I stamped onto a manila tag using the Archival Ink with a stamp made from foam, using Venetian Orange, Vermillion, and Sepia.

Archival Ink stamped onto manila tag using homemade foam stamp

Then I swiped three colors of Distress Ink (Wild Honey, Rusty Hinge, Peeled Paint) on my craft sheet, and spritzed them with a mixture of water, Distress Ink re-inker (Vintage Photo), and Perfect Pearls (Perfect Copper).  I then swiped my tag through the mixture on my craft sheet, dried it with my heat gun, and repeated, drying it again.  Here’s what it looked like after, and then the final result after adding a few final touches.  You can see there was absolutely no bleeding at all from the leaves underneath the water technique.

Tag after swiping through Distress Ink and Perfect Pearl/re-inker/water mixture

Finished tag

I just love the possibilities this opens up!  Think of all the things you can do with 24 colors of permanent, waterproof ink!  Not only can you stamp in so many different colors (think scrapbooks, greeting cards, ATC’s, mixed media projects, canvases, etc.)…but as I’ve shown, you have so much flexibility to work with alcohol inks or water-based mediums ON TOP of these inks.  Below I’ve used Cut-N-Dry Nibs and Fantastix Coloring Tools to color in this stamped image with Archival Inks on a page in my art journal – what a fantastic START it will be…and I won’t have to worry about what I do next…I can use my watercolor crayons or pencils or paints without worrying that this ink will run!

Stamped image colored in with Archival Ink using Cut N Dry Nips and Fantastix coloring tools

And in this final project I’ll leave you with, I’ve used several watercolor mediums – under my final stamped images, which were stamped with Archival Ink.  I wanted to be sure that my top layer was done with mediums that would be permanent, so that if it gets splashed, the project won’t be ruined!

Archival Ink stamped in various colors on Ampersand Aquaboard

All in all, I am very impressed with the versatility of this ink, and I’m so glad Ranger decided to add so many beautiful colors to the line.  I know that when I’m not using my Distress Inks, this Archival Ink will be my go-to ink! OH, one more thing I forgot to mention – and this, I love!  With my old permanent ink, I felt I *had* to clean my stamps well after every use, because it always left a really awful residue on my stamps.  Archival Ink?  Doesn’t!  I almost never clean my stamps!  At most, I may wipe them off on the nearest paper towel or towel, but usually I just stamp any excess ink off on my newsprint under my working surface, and that’s it.  The ink leaves NO residue on my stamps, and they work just as great each and every time I use them!  LOVE that!

How much do they cost?  The small ink pads retail for $5.99, and the jumbo ones retail for $11.99; refills range from $3.49 – $4.49. Have you tried the Ranger Archival Ink?  If not, you should!  I bet you’ll be as hooked as I am!

Disclosure: samples provided for review, but the opinions are honest.


  1. Rachel says

    Unrelated thing, kind of. Why are “crafty people” talking about Copics suddenly, instead of Prismacolors? Is it because they are refillable? (Or is it mostly people that don’t already own a huge stash of Prismacolor pencils. Because I like having color-coordinated Prismacolors pencils & markers.)

  2. says

    Rachel – you ask a really good question, we think! We actually agree that for the average crafter, Prismacolor Art Markers are a more affordable way to go for an alcohol-based marker, and we reviewed them here – Unless you are a graphic artist/professional who is using the alcohol markers daily for extended periods, it is unlikely that you would ever need to actually refill them. We also reviewed the Letraset ProMarkers, from the U.K., which are alcohol based – I personally don’t own ANY alcohol-based markers, but mentioned Copics in my review today because they seem to be what so many stampers and crafters are using these days. Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Rachel says

    I would say that the one nice thing about Copics (though I do not own any) is that their color numbering system is set up so that you can tell how the color families will blend together.

    Prismacolor numbering system means nothing (according to what I have researched). I have only bought “a few at a time” and sometimes been very surprised by how poorly they work together, so I wish they had a similar system!

  4. CherylT says

    Thanks for the great review! I love archival inks, and am happy to hear they have actually improved them. I picked up several colors last year at the Ranger warehouse sale, and would really love to have more colors. The nice, crisp images you get with this ink are just wonderful.

  5. says

    I have just moved over to the archival inks b/c my local shop, who I try to support carries them. I have been surprised and pleased by their performance


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