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  • By Sheila Chyu
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Explore how 4 different types of blending tools can produce different results of the same ink.

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Today we are going to explore various ways to blend ink on paper through sponges and bristle brushes, using the same ink and stencil. You will see how changing the tool you use, changes the effect it has on the ink to paper. Let's get started.

1. Rounded dome sponge - the rounded dome allows you to get into the details of the stencil better because of the rounded edges of the sponge.


2. Flat Sponge


3. Pink and Main Bristle Brush - These are great for fine detailed stencils. They fit great in the hand and are the most comfortable to handle. There are two sizes, small and large.


4. Bristle Brush with a long handle, Picket Fence.


We will be using the new Picket Fence Leaf slimline stencil, on an A2 card base, and Crackling Campfire Distress Oxide Ink. The oxide inks are more pigmented and have almost a "chalky" consistency, so they are easier to blend.

First, Nina used the flat sponge to blend the ink using the stencil. It's easy to add a lot of ink to the paper using the flat sponge because the flat sponge can hold a lot of ink. But because of the sharp edge of the flat sponge, it is hard to get into the small crevices of this intricate stencil.


Next, Nina used the Picket Fence bristle brush with a long handle. You can see here that it was much easier to get into the crevices, and the color is more soft and faded, not as heavy as the flat sponge above.



Third, Nina used the domed sponge. The dome is circular and you can get into the crevices more easily using a circular motion, and sponges, in general, hold more ink than the bristle brushes, so the color is deeper, darker, and richer. Nina loves this domed sponge and always has it handy.


Fourth, Nina used the Pink and Main Bristle Brush, mini-size. Since this is a bristle brush, it doesn't hold as much ink as the sponge brushes, and you need almost 3 layers to get close to the same color. But the bristle brush is just as crisp as the domed sponge, in getting the detail of the stencil.


The Pink and Main bristle brush also does not hold a lot of ink, so it is easier to clean. You can just swipe the residual off on the side of the paper or in your hand, and you can move on to picking up the next color without much worry. One recommendation is to use one bristle brush for oxides, and a different one for distress inks. You don't need a brush for each color, but because the formulas for the inks are different, they may not clean off as easily if you mix up the types on a single brush.

Here is a look at the 4 blending tools and how they differ. There is a sample at the register if you want to see it up close in person.


Next, Nina went on to make an "ombre" background knowing the different properties of these blending tools to go from darkest to lightest. She started with the flat sponge that can lay down the most ink easily, then the domed sponge, then the Pink and Main Bristle brush which provided the lightest shade. Below you can see the harsh brushstrokes from the sponge brushes. Whereas the bristle brushes have a more blended finish.




Then Nina went back to blend the different shades with the Picket Fences Bristle Brush to make the ombre smoother.


Nina went back to the stenciled A2 card to demonstrate how the Pink and Main bristle brush is easy to clean. She's wiping off the residual on the palm of her hand and then going on to pick up the next color to work with, Wild Honey Distress Oxide.


Ready to pick up the Wild Honey, without any residual Crackling Fire.


The bristle brush does not hold a lot of ink so you can easily dust a lighter color into the background.


Please watch the Facebook Live here to see Nina demonstrate these techniques with the various blending tools. If there is something you are interested in, and you don't see it online, please call the store and we can reserve it for you.

Thanks for watching and being part of our crafting community!


-Your Design Team


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