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How To | Tim Holtz Distress Stains

I was excited from the moment I heard about the release of new Tim Holtz Distress Stains by Ranger Ink earlier this year. After all of the times I have had to work to get my ink pads to cover larger areas or made my own washes with my distress ink pads – I knew this product would be saving me a lot of time and energy!

The great news is, once I got my hands on it this product I did find it is all I hoped and so much more. Before I dive into explaining how I use this product, first we need to go over a few basics about what it is:

  • It is a liquid form of distress ink, designed to cover larger areas faster than the pads.
  • The colors can be layered and used on projects with distress ink pads as well.
  • Stains are not opaque like paint – instead they are sheer, like a color wash.
  • Distress Stain is now available in all 36 Distress Ink pad colors, as well as white (Picket Fence).

There are also a few things you need to know that Distress Stains are not:

  • A stain is not the same thing as a re-inker. Stain is a fluid version of a color, where a re-inker is a concentrated version of the exact formula in an ink pad.
  • You should not attempt to re-ink a distress ink pad with a distress stain. It contains different resins and will not work.

Using a distress stain is simple. You simply press it onto paper and go! There is a valve under the felt tip that will allow more stain to come out as you press. I find the way to get the best results when covering larger areas are to work in circular motions for the least amount of streaking or uneven color. If your color dries and it is lighter than you desire, just go back and re-do the area.

Distress Stains work on any paper, wood, or other porous surface you can think of. They are great on resist papers (as shown on Tim Holtz resist paper on the left, above), covering tags, or any other project where you want to add more color quickly.

The product itself is incredibly simple. It’s liquid color in a bottle! No brushes, tools, or anything else is required. You could use it to draw a shape on your layout, streak a few colors together and make a rainbow, and so much more. In both large ways and small, I find these to be incredibly useful in my paper crafting.

With a light hand you can certainly use the stains with masks and stencils. (pictured above: Harlequin template by The Crafter’s Workshop) Just be sure to go easy so that you do not get pooled liquid.

Speaking of liquid, you may find that using a lot of this stain will cause your paper to buckle, or otherwise warp. That is ok! If that happens just let it dry totally. Most of the time mine goes right back to normal. If not? Just use an iron or something heavy on top of the paper for a bit to help it straighten back out. If this becomes a big problem, try using a lighter hand and less fluid.

For even lighter color, or if you would like to use a paintbrush, then just dab some stain onto your craft mat, add a few drops of water, and enjoy! Above you can see a tag that I am turning a light lavender color by doing just this with the Dusty Concord stain.

There is one color of Distress Stain that is fairly opaque, and that is the white (Picket Fence) stain. It will work on dark papers well – and also makes a great thin paint-like wash. The other colors that will cover over more would be the very dark colors, simply because they are so dark, and lighter colors and designs may not show through them well.

I have one more trick – this is something I’ve been using a lot in my classes and with my stains at home. Gently whack the distress stain on your paper to create a splat! Sometimes I have to repeat this a few times (if the pad at top of the stain is not ‘juicy’ enough), but that’s not a problem. It’s a really fun way to add a big splat of color to your projects.

Above is a layout I created using Distress Stains around the edge of my photos (Mustard Seed), as well as to create my title (Broken China, Tumbled Glass, and Worn Lipstick).

What colors I would suggest entirely depend on your crafting needs. Antique Linen is a fantastic color for gently aging things – from doilies you want to give an antiqued look to, to bright patterned papers you want toned down a bit. My biggest suggestion is to think about your crafting, and what colors you use most often. Consider how you might be using these distress stains, and buy colors based on that so that you get useful colors.

If you would like to see more ideas and really see these stains in action, I recently posted a video tutorial on my blog that can be found here.  I use several stains to make a tag (close-up shown above) in the video, as well as show it in use with stamping.

The Distress Stains have so many potential uses, and because they are able to mix with water, work so well in conjunction with Distress Ink pads, and so much more they have quickly become a new essential product in my crafting.

[Editor's Note: Last year May wrote an article here at Scrapbook Update about Distress Ink pads, if you missed that you can go here to read it.]

Find the full selection of Tim Holtz Distress Stains at SimonSaysStamp!

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19 Responses to How To | Tim Holtz Distress Stains

  1. Debbie S. August 8, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Cool! Thanks, May! (love your fair ride LO!)

  2. Jackie DuChene August 8, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    I just stained a wooden box with on the other day. then modpodges a dress pattern over the top of it. I only have two but I use them on everything I make.

  3. Linda H August 8, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Definitely a fun product that is easy to use! Thanks for the tips!

  4. Robin August 8, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    May – great explanation of the wonders of distress stains!
    they are amazing & the colors amazing.

  5. Aimee August 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Love it, I am a stain junkie!

  6. KimMJ August 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanx for sharing the techniques. The Splat looks like fun . Cannot wait to get my hands on the picket fence stain.

    TFS

  7. Laurie J.M. August 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing! I so love everything designed by Tim.

  8. Deb August 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Thanks for sharing May. Love the splat effect – looks fabulous.

  9. Peg Hewitt August 9, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    I recently bought some of these, this info will come in handy, thanks so much for sharing :-)

  10. Joanne H August 9, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    I had wondered about the best way to color the kraft resist paper… thanks for the tips.

  11. Kathy H August 9, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    I have two of these stains and love them! Hadn’t thought of “splatting” but what a great idea! Thanks for your very informative article. I’m sure taking a class with you would be a real treat!!

  12. Karin Hall August 9, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Love the ideas you gave us. And I love the product. Thanks

  13. missgailly August 9, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I have 3 of these and have only used them to ink the edges of paper (which goes a LOT quicker than using an ink pad). But now (thanks to you) I have lots of other ideas on what to use them for. I think I may be buying some other colours!

  14. Gab August 9, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Love that article, thanks May … and my favourite online stores here in Oz have just got stocks of the new colours in!!!

  15. Cynthia August 9, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I knew I had to get these, and now that I have seen your use of them, I am going to order some today. Thanks for showing the versatility – love your layout!

  16. Tona August 10, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  17. Spice November 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Why are all of your images not showing?

    • Nancy Nally November 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      No idea…will look into it. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Nancy Nally November 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      Oh just realized looking at the date of this post…I believe that this was an article affected by a server crash for which we were unable to recover the images for a small number of articles.

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