The question on most paper crafter’s mind is “What is the best ink pad to use with what?” It is confusing for sure because every company claims they have the best on the market. Once you get it in your craft room and start to use it, you usually are disappointed, does not do what you want it to do or you are confused on how to use it. It’s time to get back to the basics. As much as the craft industry does not want this to be said, it needs to be. There are only three ink pads that a crafter needs. You may not even need all three. You may only need one or two. It really depends on what you want to do with your stamping.

This article covers:

  1. Black Ink Pads
  2. The 3 Must Have Inks (complete with Amazon links)
  3. Break Down of Ink Pads Video
  4. Ink Pad Buyer’s Guide

Black Ink Pads

This article is about basic stamping — meaning stamping images and sentiments. This does not apply to ink blending or layering images that require a lot of colors.  Therefore, we are sticking to the basics. Basic black ink pads is the focus of this article. Actually there are only two black pads and one clear, but I will cover that later. Please understand that colored ink pads are great. They are a staple in most crafter’s room including mine. However, before a crafter is ready for colored ink pads a good foundation on what black ink pad to use with what substrate and medium is crucial. Once you understand the fundamentals of the basic black ink pad navigating the massive colored ink pad market is much easier.

The 3 Must Have Inks

Archival Jet Black

An Archival Jet Black Ink Pad is a multifunctional ink. It can be used on porous and nonporous surfaces (regular cardstock and acetate to name a couple). If it is used on a slick or glossy surface it will take a few minutes to dry. Once it is dry it will not move. This is great if you want to use watercolor pencils, distress crayons, or anything water based. Nothing is more disheartening when the perfect image is finally achieved and the lines get fuzzy because they got wet. It is permanent.  This ink is also safe for memory keeping. Over the years it will not damage or alter color on your pictures or documents, therefore preserving the integrity of your memories and project.


I have the standard size Archival Ink Pad and the Jumbo. I am including both links because I find them both useful. The standard is great when inking up a stamp using a stamping platform. The Jumbo is fantastic for large stamps and inking the edges of paper. I am not a fan of reinkers, however I have discovered that with as much as I use these ink pads I need it. If you are unsure which one to purchase, I suggest the standard size.

Memento Ink Pad

The best ink pad for alcohol markers is Memento. I discovered this pad over a decade ago when I purchased my first alcohol marker and it has stood the test of time. Other ink pads that claim to be safe for alcohol markers just do not measure up. Either they dry out, bleed or stain the marker tip. There are other pads out there that work with alcohol markers, but Memento ink pads are pretty easy to find and I do not have to worry that the company that makes them is going to go out of business and I won’t be able to find them anymore. It is a sad thing to have to think about, but it is true. Sadly, craft companies come and go in the industry and trying to constantly find the latest and greatest is time consuming. It is just easier to stick with the original.

I only recommend Memento Ink Pad for crafters that want to use alcohol ink. If you do not use alcohol ink, save your pennies and stick with Archival ink 😉


I recommend the standard side, however if you are limited on storage the smaller size is nice. You will just need to tap it a little more to get full coverage on your image. If you are unsure on if you will use it, start with the smaller size and you can always get the standard size later.

Clear Embossing Pad

Clear Embossing Pad is not black, but clear. You may be wondering why I am including it on this list of must haves. Embossing a stamped image is a lovely way to add a touch of sophistication to a piece. However, I emboss for a different reason. I am a messy colorist. I color outside of the lines and hurry. Embossing an image allows the lines to be slightly raised, so coloring outside of them is more challenging. This forces me to be neat! Plus, if I am using watercolor it pools nicely where it should.

There are great black ink embossing pads, however I recommend the clear because the black is highly pigmented. That means they sit on top of the paper in wet black ink. Embossing pads need to have moisture in order to grab the embossing powder. When it is heated it melts into the ink. Black Embossing ink pads can transfer some black ink onto your substrate when you are coloring or even worse — onto whatever you are using to color. I have ruined far to many markers with a black embossing ink pad that I thought was heat set. Therefore, I recommend clear embossing ink pads with colored embossing powder.


Breakdown of Ink Pads and Which Ones You Need

Here is a video that further explains the ink pads and which ones you need.

Ink Pads Buyers Guide

I hope that you have a better understanding on what ink pads you need in your craft room. Once you determine the kind of stamping you want to do, substrates to do it on and mediums to use with it the selection of your ink pad should be much easier. You will have confidence  and enjoyment knowing that you are using the pad made for your art.


Included in the Buyer’s Guide is paper. The paper recommended works wonderfully with all the inks. It can be used with watercolor pencils, colored pencils, and alcohol markers. It is a bright stark white which reflects whatever colors you use perfectly.

Until next time — Happy Crafting!



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