Ink is the foundation of any project that involves stamping, from scrapbooks to cards to home décor. Ink quality can make or break a project, and using a poor quality ink is a waste of both time and money. That being said, it can be pretty hard to figure out which ink you should buy. Black ink is a staple of any craft room, and there is an incredible variety of brands and types to choose from. Unfortunately, I have made the mistake of buying poor quality ink many times.
So, to help other crafters, I present the Ink Wars: Black. I have dug out the various black inks I have purchased, and stamped them with the same image so we can compare them side to side. All of the images were stamped on the same sheet of Stampin’ Up! Whisper White paper.
Here is a photo of the sheet before I cut it into pieces for the side by side comparisons:
As you can see, there are some inks that definitely stand out from the others, giving a bold, crisp image. There are others that look faded, like I was going for a retro or shabby-chic craft look. That effect is not intended, sadly.
It’s hard to name a clear winner between a few of the brands, but it is easy to see the clear loser. I love Stampin’ Up! products, I really do, but their black ink is just plain subpar to every other ink I own. I hate to say it, but I put the Stampin’ Up! black on the “Don’t Buy” list. Even the cheapest, discount ink pads did better!
Here is a comparison of the SU Black verses the CTMH Black, the closest competitor to Stampin’ Up! in general. CTMH gave a clear, crisp image in a deep black. While it was not the best result over all, its leagues above the SU ink. The SU ink came off unevenly and it has a faded, worn out look to it.
Next, here is the SU ink next to Versafine Black. The Versafine Black produces a clear, crisp image. The black is not the deepest, but the clarity is excellent.
Here is the SU pad next to a used Memories pad that I bought from the Archiver’s tag sale. This ink pad has been used many times at the store, is who-knows-how-old, and isn’t even one of the pricier ink pads on the market. Yet, its still a night and day difference between it and the SU pad. It has a deep black hue, and while not as precise and fine as the versafine, it still produced a crisp, clean and even image.
Next up is the SU pad compared to the Memento Tuxedo Black pad. This one I was very curious about, because SU will be selling the Memento Tuxedo Black in the near future as a compliment to their new alcohol marker line. Sadly, they did not pick one of the strongest blacks to sell either. I will be putting up a separate post detailing how the Memento pad measures up to other pads in the near future. For now, you can see that it is a great improvement over the SU pad, but still lacks a deep, rich hue. It was also not as crisp and clear as other inks tested.
The next match up is Staz-On Jet Black vs the Stampin’ Up! black ink pad. Honestly, this match up felt like I was comparing apples to oranges. The Staz-On has a funky odor that drives me nuts, but the difference in quality is pretty steep. The Staz-On is not quite as crisp as the Versafine, but it is really one of the deepest blacks you can find. The Stampin’ Up! image looks nearly grey next to it.
Next up, we have an ink that produced an image almost as poor as the Stampin’ Up! black stamp pad did. This was VersaCraft Real Black. The thing to remember here is this stamp pad was designed for stamping on tougher surfaces, like wood, cloth, glass, etc. You sacrifice some clarity and richness for the ability to stamp on surfaces that other ink would not stick to. Unfortunately, it still produced a better image than the SU ink! While it didn’t stamp perfectly even, it was more even and a richer color than the SU ink.
The next ink tested was ColorBox Black. For some odd reason, I had it in my head this would be one of the poorest quality pads that I own. I Couldn’t be more wrong. This one came out being one of the best inks overall. It producdes a clear image, with an excellent rich color. Next to this ink, the Stampin’ Up! black looks like I stamped off on a different piece of paper before creating my image. This was a pleasant surprise, and I will definitely be using this ink pad more in the future.
The final ink I test was a cheapo Big N Juicy pad I got from Hobby Lobby for my daughter. I like the fancier inks better, so I don’t typically use this one myself. Surprizingly, it did very well against the competition. Again, it was miles ahead of Stampin’ Up! in terms of richness and clarity. It wasn’t as dark or crisp as some of the other inks, but for what it is I was very surprised.
The final ranking order of the stamps tested is
1. Staz-On Jet Black
2. ColorBox Black
3. Memories Black
4. Versafine Black
5. Close To My Heart Black
6. Big & Juicy Black
7. Memento Tuxedo Black
8. VersaCraft Real Black
9. Stampin’ Up! Black
As you can see, the Stampin’ Up! ink came in dead last. I think it’s pretty safe to say this is quite possibly the worst product Stampin’ Up! sells. I love their paper, stamps, dies, punches, embellishments and pretty much everything else, but their black ink just plain sucks.
Knowing that they are encouraging demonstrators to sell this subpar product to customers has me rethinking my devotion to the brand. Sure, I love the other products, but I could not sell this ink pad to anyone without feeling guilty. If Stampin’ Up! knows there is a quality issue with this item, why is it still being sold? Why not just pull the ink until you can sell something that at least beats out the cheapest competitor? I know black ink is a staple product, but the fact that this ink is still being sold as “black” really has me second guessing the quality of their other items. It just feels dishonest to me, and I have a very hard time getting over that. They could at least change the description to “Antiqued Black” or “Retro Black” if they want to keep selling it. At least then it wouldn’t be a dirty little secret in the demo world that this product is inferior to the competition and the trust that is placed in the quality of their items would not be questions.