A year and a half ago, I had never heard of Distress Inks, or Tim Holtz, or Ranger Ink. Distress Stains hadn’t even been invented…but even if they had, I wouldn’t have known anything about them. It’s hard to believe, given how much I love all things “Distress” now, but it’s true. At a fateful weekend with Donna Downey in July 2010, my art world was changed forever, and I’ve never looked back.
When Tim Holtz introduced his line of Distress Stains earlier this year, I immediately bought some. I was excited when I received a few more colors, including Picket Fence, to include for my review. Here’s what the Ranger website has to say about these fluid dyes:
“Distress Stains are fluid water-based dyes for papers and other porous surfaces. Use for quick and easy ink coverage for backgrounds and larger areas. Mist with water to lighten color and create mottled effects. Apply layers of stain to achieve more saturated color. Available in the entire Distress color palette.”
Distress Stains come in a 1-oz bottle, with a brushed nylon dabber top, with a built-in spring valve. To release the dye, you simply press down on the valve repeatedly to soak the dabber top. Distress Stains are also acid-free and fade-resistant. Not only are the Distress Stains available in the full line of 36 Distress colors, but there is also a white Picket Fence Distress Stain – a completely unique Distress Stain which works wonderfully with the other stains.
I started out with some swatches, of course.
You can see from the swatches that the more porous the material, the darker the color appears. The color I used for the swatches is Fired Brick, which is a darker red with a bit of an orange-ish tint to it. Most of the swatches took the color well, but the glossy cardstock caused the Distress Stain to dry with a very milky finish – causing it to appear much lighter in color than it actually is. The Distress Stains are not meant for non-porous surfaces, thus I did not test them on plastic, metal, etc.
You can see above that one of the great things about the Distress Stains is the ability to easily dye ribbons and other embellishments (like the crocheted flower) to match your project. Here I used Spun Sugar Distress Stain to dye crinoline (a utility fabric) to make a dimensional flower for this treasure box.
One of the best things about Distress Stains is how fast you can cover a background. I especially like using them to cover tags. I created this tag in just a couple minutes on my son’s first day of classes at his learning center.
Another great thing is that you can cover large areas quickly, and because they are liquid, they pick up texture great. I used several colors of Distress Stain to “paint” over highly textured gesso on this art journal page.
Now, just like Distress Ink, the Distress Stains are reactive with water – that’s what makes them “distress.” When you add water to Distress Ink, it reacts by splotching and leaving a great mottled look. Distress Stains are no different – once applied and dried, you can add water to them and get the same great look.
Now, the Picket Fence Distress Stain is very different. For starters, you need to shake it before you use it. It is semi-opaque…and when you first apply it, it looks more opaque than it truly is when it dries. There are a variety of ways to use the Picket Fence. First off, you can use it to mute a patterned paper that may be a bit too bold or bright for your project. Here’s an example from a project I previously presented:
Another way to use the Picket Fence Distress Stain is by layering it with other colors of Distress Stain. You can either put the Picket Fence down first or the other color down first – you get a different look either way.
I started off with a piece of Tim Holtz’s Kraft Resist paper here.
Then I covered it with Picket Fence Distress Stain and dried it. While the other Distress Stains will not cover the “resist” part of this paper, the Picket Fence will; so I used a small dampened paintbrush to swipe away the Picket Fence from the “resist” areas of the paper.
Next, I covered the paper with Fired Brick Distress Stain and dried it. In the photo, on the right, you can see a piece of Kraft Resist paper which I had applied the Fired Brick Distress Stain to without any Picket Fence – so you can see the difference the Picket Fence makes.
Next, I splattered some water droplets over the paper, causing the Distress Stain to react. You can see how the dye reacts with the water.
I blotted the excess water and dried the paper, and this is the final effect. You can see the Picket Fence showing through under the Fired Brick.
Finally, I spritzed the paper with Biscotti Perfect Pearls Spray by Ranger. It gave the paper an overall shimmer effect, and this is now ready to become the front of a holiday card or an embellishment for a scrapbook page.
You can imagine the possibilities for this effect, with the winter holidays approaching. Think about using blue colors with the Picket Fence…it could look like a snow storm!
There are so many more possibilities for using the Distress Stains…I couldn’t possibly cover all of the possible techniques in one post. Stamping (try inking your stamp with the Distress Stain for a great water-colored type look), water-coloring, stenciling…the ideas are as boundless as your imagination. Distress Stains open up a whole new dimension to the world of “Distress.”
Distress Stains retail for $4.99 each, though some retailers bundle them in packs of 12 or 36, offering a slight discount on the bundle. While there are many liquid inks/sprays/etc. on the market, I do feel that Distress Stains offer something different in their reactivity with water, their coordination with the entire line of “Distress,” and the way the 36 colors react with Picket Fence. I don’t think you can go wrong with these on your craft table!
(Note: There was a problem in some of the original 12 colors released, in that there wasn’t adequate preservative in the dye. This led to mold forming on the brushed nylon dabber tops of some of the colors – appearing black in color. Ranger identified the problem and has since remedied the formulations. If you have any of the original Distress Stains and have this problem, simply contact Ranger and they will replace the molded Stains for you. I personally had this occur and Ranger’s customer service was excellent in assisting me.)
Disclaimer: Samples provided for review purposes.
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