How To Use Distress Oxide Ink

Distress Oxide Ink is very different than any other ink you have tried. Tim Holtz created these inks for Ranger and you will be shocked at how quickly and easily you can make beautiful backgrounds and amazing artwork even if you have never used them before.  Distress Oxide Ink Pads are a water-reactive dye & pigment ink fusion that creates an oxidized effect when sprayed with water. There are so many techniques you can do with these inks and they come in a large array of colors.

The first technique I’d like to show you is called “dragging”.  Basically, you lay down ink on your work surface and spritz it with water and then you drag your paper through the ink.  The wonderful part about this is, you can keep dragging through ink and layering colors until you have the desired look.  If you tried this with regular ink, you would end up with a muddy mess and eventually everything would be gray or brown or black.  My tip is to drag through a first pass and then hit your paper with a heat gun to dry it. If you want to try again with more layers or add colors, repeat the process.  It is that simple! Take a look at the graphic below…


On the left is Neenah white cardstock, 110 lb, and on the right I used Tim Holtz watercolor paper.  You can try any type of cardstock or watercolor paper or you can even use colored paper for different effects.  I like to use the Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer, but you can use any water spritzer you like.  I also like to use the Mini Ink Blending Tool for all of my inking projects, but again, use what works for you. For my work surface, I use a Teflon mat which is often used for cooking.  These mats are durable and they wipe clean if you stamp on them.

The next technique is similar, but instead of inking the work surface, you ink directly on the paper and then apply water.  The water reacts with the ink and the longer you leave the water on the surface of your paper, the more bleached or oxidized look you will get.  On the left is the Neenah cardstock and the right is the watercolor paper.


The next few examples show how you can use oxides to create different looks……


In this example, the ink was applied to go from dark to light for an ombre look.  Notice the ink does not cover the resist lettering of the Concord and 9th tintables card.  The card was then sprayed with water in medium and small drops for a glistening effect.


This next technique may be my favorite.  Not only was the sprayer used on the ombre watercolored card, but the mini inker tool was sprayed with water and then used to pick up color from the card.  It gives a more controlled and different look than you would get from just a water sprayer.


For this next effect, ink was applied to the paper in horizontal chunks and then swiped with a wet water brush. In my opinion this look is very beachy and has a tie dye look to it.  I think it’s a really fun look and something you don’t see all of the time.


You often see a “galaxy” effect on cards and scrapbook pages.  This was very simple to achieve with oxides.  Lay down the colors you want, usually blues and purples with splashes of yellow or green, and then lightly spritz with water to blend.  Dry the card with a heat gun and then slightly go over with black soot.  Once complete, I like to go over the card with sheer shimmer spritz because it acts like water to help blend but it adds amazing sparkle which adds to the look!!

Masking is also another option which works great with oxides.  As you can see above, I used post-it tape to mask off sections and I applied ink only where I wanted it to be.  You can blend with water or use resist paper or any other technique with this for added dimension.


As you can see, you can even use oxide ink to stamp and watercolor.  First I inked up these pretty butterfly stamps by Clearly Besotted with the oxide ink and then used my misti tool on watercolor cardstock.  I then took a watercolor brush to drag some of the color onto the wings.  It was super fast and easy.

In these last few pictures, you can see how amazing these inks are with stencils.  The Crafter’s Companion 3D layer series by Sheena is amazing and the oxides make it so easy to blend.  They are like individual pieces of art – and you don’t need to be talented (trust me!!)

I hope these tips and techniques make it a little less scary to try to experiment with oxide inks. There is not right or wrong.  Do what you like and keep layering until you get the look you want. I do hope you try it and I would love to see what you create!