Creative Chemistry 101 – Part 1

Hello readers. This week I’ve been participating in Tim Holtz Online Class – Creative Chemistry 101, and today I’ll share what I’ve been doing from the lessons and some of the discoveries that I’ve made. This will be a longer post than what I would normally do.

First I’ll talk about me and my style of stamping, as I see it. When I first started stamping, like most, I’d bought all sorts of ink pads, stamps and papers. Sometimes I got great results and sometimes I got disappointing results. So after much trial and error I discovered my preferred tools for stamping were water based dye inks and rubber stamps, and the cardstock I use almost exclusively for stamping on, is by Stampin’ Up! Thats not to say that other brands and types aren’t good, it was just a conbination the suited the way I like to stamp. I use two brands of dye ink, Stampin’ Up Classic Ink, and Tim Holtz Distress Ink. Of course dye ink can’t do everything, so I have a small selection of pigment and solvent type pads to compliment them, and they are mostly black/brown  or clear. I use Versamark (clear) often enough, but I didn’t realise until recently that most of my work rarely includes any black, so the other inkpads barely see the light of day. All my pigment based products are mostly paints, pastels and pencils.

When Tim Holtz announced that he was putting a class together about chemistry of how some of our products work I decided I wanted in. After all there is always someting new to be learned even if you know a product very well. Tim Holtz works for Ranger, so he uses those branded products to demonstrate techniques, but the principles of how they work, based on what makes up a particular product, apply to many other brands too. Each brand will have it’s own features and colour palette, so there will be variences in the final result, but the principles remain the same. I have a lot of the Tim Holtz Distress and Ranger line of products so I have used them a lot in making my samples, but I’ve also experiments with other products to.


So what have I discovered this week with my experiments? Manilla! And not just any manilla either. I’d played around with bought manilla tags before and was very disappointed with them, so I left them alone. Tim uses manilla tags and comes up with great results, so I wanted to give manilla another try. This time I went to the local supermarket and bought a couple of packs of manilla folders and cut my own tags. I’ve only tried one pack so far, and I’m amazed! Oh boy what a difference. I’m getting results I love. I’ve been trying techniques several times over, using different inks and different surfaces to really see how they all react with each other. I revisited my purchased tags and still got the same disappointing results, so that tells me that not all manilla is created equal, and my first attempts where not user error. In some samples I much prefer the manilla look than my much trusted Whisper White by Stampin’Up!.


Here are some of the sample tags I’ve been making. As you can see I make several of each technique, changing the inks and surfaces I use. Some results are nearly the same and difficult to tell apart, and other results are vastly different. I’ve not been able to try some of the techniques due to not having a produt that can be used or substituted to get the required results. But I have a greater understanding of why these products will work the way they do, and thats fascinating. Will I be running out to purchase these products? Not neccesarily, since I’d want to determine if a product would be versatile for my style, but I am curious to find out more about them. At this stage of the game I don’t feel my creativity is stifled for lack of variety of products, and as much as I like Tims work, I want to create in my style and not just recreate his. But you already knew that anyway, I suspect.

I’ve often wondered if my water supply might a bearing on results when using it. I live on unfiltered water straight from my rainwater tanks, one concrete and one polyplastic. (I never get sick, feel ill or have gastric prolems for all those who may have been shocked by that bit of news, lol).  I can safely say it has no bearing whatsoever, based on the way I use my water, with inks and the surfaces I use. I bought demineralized water from the supermarket, and I got the same results as when I use my tank water.


These are samples made with techniques using waterbased dye ink pads.


I tested two brands of ink pads on two different surfaces for this technique, and got two different results. In this case the surface was the determining factor for the differences.


Brushless watercolour technique using distress Inks on two different surfaces. Cold press watercolour paper and Fabriano.


Samples from play with two inks and two surfaces using the winkle free distress technique.


These are my samples using two  techniques using reinkers. Butterflies are painted with reinkers and an aquabrush.


I love the way my reinker sprays turned out. Reminds me of those lovely batik patchwork fabrics. I only used Distress Reinkers on these samples, but I’d like to redo the samples with my Stampin’Up! reinkers too. Tried this on Whisper White cardstock with disappointing results due to the paper being very porous.


Finished off week one with playing with Distress Stains. This line has a white pigment based colour, which combines beautifully with the dye based colours, to give some really interesting results. Here I’ve used the white to stamp, stencil and marblize with.

So there you have it. The results of a week of creative play with my stamping products. This has been a great course well worth the admission price. For anyone interested, the course infomation and content is always available for purchase, even after the live part of the class finishes (in a couple of weeks). And the part I really love, class members have lifetime access to course content. If you want to know more about the course, check it out here at Creative Chemistry 101. I’ll be back next week with Part Two of my course discoveries and play results.



Categories: About me, Creative Chemistry 101, Stampin' Up!, Tags, Tim Holtz | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Creative Chemistry 101 – Part 1

  1. dianenoble50

    These are just fascinating, Theresa. The blending of the mediums you are using is superb. I’m curious about your butterflies. When you mentioned the reinkers, are you talking about the Distress inks reinkers? Would SU reinkers work…and are the butterflies on the manilla that you are talking about or some different paper source? Love the effect of all of it! Thanks for sharing.

    • I didn’t give much info there, sorry. The butterflies were stamped with stazon onto cold press water colour paper and I used the Distress reinkers. The SU! reinkers should work the same way. I find with the reinkers I can get a much more intense colour than if I was using ink from an ink pad since the colour is more concentrated. HTH.

  2. acorncrafts

    I have also been doing the course and am really enjoying all the experimenting with different papers and am amazed at how different the results can be!

  3. dianenoble50

    Thank Theresa for the input. I have started collecting a few of the Distress reinkers, but I have a truck-load of the SU ones, so glad to know they will work. AND, I believe SU watercolor paper is cold-pressed. I’m giving it a try….LOVE your results. Just bought a new butterfly stamp with matching dies, that I’ve been eager to try. I think they want to be like yours!!! 🙂 Thanks for the added info.

  4. ceparie

    Isn’t the best part about a workshop is that it gets us to try working different and sometimes sends us in a new directions? Looks like that’s the case for you and you are spot on about the manilla tag stock. Tim’s tip about using file folders is one I’ve tried but the best ones are really old ones made over 15 years ago when they were made with heavier weight paper. You can 13# or heavier ones online (through office suppliers) but you have to buy 100+ and that’s way more than a lifetime supply (unless you’re Tim, of course). The file folders I’ve bought locally are made with very filmsy paper. The key to this paper must certainly be the smooth surface and durability when wet; and that creamy color compliments Tim’s inks. I bought some specialty stamping paper that just arrived and I think I’ll like it, but as you said, the white color isn’t like working on cream. Also, thanks for your comment on my work–I appreciate the feedback. Have fun this week!

  5. Sigggghhhhh! Don’t I wish I could play along but have too much to do at the moment to indulge. Your results look fascinating and so much fun! I will check back next week for stage 2!

  6. Traci Major

    Hi Theresa…these are just beautiful! You are quite the creative scientist…and I enjoy seeing your lab results because they are not only so pretty, but also informative.I love your new blog also!

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