Distress Ink Pad



  • Acid free
  • Non-toxic
  • Fade Resistant
  • New Higher Felt
  • Water-based Dye Inks
  • .5 oz. Re-inkers Available
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Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads are a collection of acid-free, non-toxic, fade-resistant, water-based dye inks. They’re perfect for the new vintage, stained, aged effect crafters are creating in their altered books, scrapbook pages, cards and papercraft projects. Tim selected the colours and helped develop these inks to produce a realistic, weathered look on paper, photos and decorative fibres. All the colourful Distress Inks afford added versatility when photo tinting and colour layering with the original, award-winning tones.

Re-inkers available in .5 oz. amber glass bottles with eye drop applicators.


Download an ink chart for your own use (.pdf)


Tips and Techniques for using Distress Ink:

Here are some key points that make Distress Inks different:

STAYS WET LONGER – Allows you to blend and shade on photos and paper – also emboss. Other dye inks dry too fast especially on photos so you end up with lines and marks if you go direct from the pad.

COLOUR WICKS OR SPREADS OUT – These inks will travel across the surface of your paper when spritzed with water. Other dyes do not travel as much although they might bleed a little when wet. Distress Inks actually “wick” or spread out much further creating several tones on tones.

STABILITY Of COLOURS– The colours of the Distress Inks will not break down when wet or heated allowing you to have more colour control for the finished look. Other “brown coloured” dyes will break down when water is added leaving a pink & green hue.

COLOUR PALETTE – Well these are unlike ANY other colours of inks you’ve seen.


Tips on using Distress Ink Pads


I like to use water when I am distressing. I think it gives the papers more of a weathered texture, so here’s how I start. Working on any type of paper (manila, cardstock, or text weight), crumple the paper up – always press in the centre of any heavyweight cardstock or manila stock – this will break the surface tension of the paper and allow you to crumple up the paper easier without tearing it. Next rub the Distress pads over the surface – you can work with several different colours or just one – WALNUT STAIN IS IDEAL FOR THIS. Then spray the inked surface with water (you will immediately notice the ink “travels” outward when water is applied as these inks are designed to react with water). Heat the surface to dry – and here’s why… Although you don’t have to Heat Set these inks for any reason, I like to dry the water using either my Heat-It Craft Tool or an iron. This will allow for more tone control and keep areas dark and others light. Ironing the paper will also give you a much smoother surface to stamp on without compromising the aged finish. *If you allow the surface to air-dry most of your colour will end up on the edges only because the paper will bend and buckle when wet, forcing the ink and water to the edges. Notice that these Distress Inks retain their colour value even when wet and dried. Other brown dyes will break down in colour (sometimes leaving a pink and green hue).



Crumple tag and apply 2 colours (one new tone and one original tone) of Distress Inks directly from the pads to each crumpled tag. Spray with water and dry.



To create the look of aged papers, from times gone by, without all the lines and wrinkles – give this a try. Working on your non-stick Craft Sheet, begin by directly applying various colours of Distress Ink Pads to the surface of the Craft Sheet. A couple of swipes of a colour or two will do the trick. (You might also try using an original colour of Distress Ink along with a new one!) Get out your Distress Re-Inkers for this next step as you want to add a bit of intense colour for the ultimate vintage look. I like using Walnut Stain or Vintage Photo for this. Remove the glass dropper from the bottle and drag it across the inked Craft Sheet. Do not squeeze any drops of ink as it will take over everything! Next mist the Craft Sheet with water to allow the inks to begin mixing and blending. Usually, 3-4 sprays are plenty. Then take your paper or tag and place indirectly on the inked Craft Sheet and lift it off. If you have any un-inked areas simply place that area of the paper on any leftover inks on the sheet. Finally, dry your paper or tag using an iron or a Heat-It Craft Tool. If you allow your papers to air dry they will curl and force most of the ink to the edges so I prefer to heat them to dry. To finish your attic-fresh look, ink the edges with Distress Inks using a piece of Cut n’ Dry Foam.



What can I say about the many stamping applications these inks can achieve. Once again the special formulation on these Distress Inks provides a versatile finish on papers yet still allow for “normal” stamping applications. I like to stamp on uncoated (matte) papers and immediately rub the image with a cloth. This will soften or shadow your image WITHOUT smudging any detail – VINTAGE PHOTO, WALNUT STAIN, TEA DYE, BLACK SOOT – wonderful for this one! Another surface is glossy cardstock – keep in mind this is a different type of dye ink so when you stamp on. Glossy, certain areas of your image will “bead” up, once again providing a Distressed look without you doing a thing.  (This is probably one of my most favourite looks) – some areas of the image appear “pitted”. Brayering on glossy cardstock is also wonderful because you can still manipulate the inks with different tools, brushes, your fingers, whatever. Even after the ink is applied you can achieve amazing texture and colour shading.



FINALLY, an ink formulated for photos! The Distress Ink works on all types of photos. Inkjet, laser, toner copies, regular photos (matte or glossy) and even colour photos! Start by using the lightest colours ANTIQUE LINEN or OLD PAPER with either a brayer or direct to photo. Cover the photo in the lighter colours, blend the colours with a small piece of Cut n’ Dry Foam after you apply the inks. These inks stay wet long enough to blend out any lines or marks other ink pads leave on photos. Next age the edges with vintage brown tone by applying the pad directly to the edges. Soften and mix the tones with foam. Of course to complete the ageing process lightly sand – YES SAND – the photo with medium-grit sandpaper. Don’t go over anyone’s face, but just make a few scratches here and there.



Distress Inks acid-free, easy to blend formula makes them your best choice for photo tinting. Make a black and white copy of your favourite photo onto Ranger Gloss Paper. Select areas of your photo to colourize. Pick up ink directly from the Distress Ink Pads with Cut n’ Dry Nibs and colour. It’s that easy! Cut n’ Dry Nibs provide the control you need to place colours exactly where you want them. Distress Photo Edging Make any photo look antique. Cut a small square of Cut n’ Dry Foam. Ink the foam on one of the Distress pads. Rub the inked foam around the edges of the photo for managed effect.



The Distress re-inkers are so versatile and fun, especially the bottles they’re in! These vintage-looking glass dropper vials are perfect for aging a “batch” of tags, fibres, linens or whatever, in baths of Distress Ink & water. You can also create your own palette on your craft sheet. Use the re-inkers and hand tint any black and white photo colour by colour. A very fun thing to do. I also like using the resist ink or Perfect Medium and the re-inkers to create amazing stained backgrounds on papers. Enjoy the journey…



Additional information

Distress Ink Colours

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