Blending Brushes: do you get what you pay for?

If you keep up with paper crafting trends, there is no way you will have missed the introduction of brushes like these to the craft supply market. Supposedly they blend ink smoothly, are easy to clean and you don’t need a brush for every color ink you own.

I first saw these at Stamp and Scrapbook Expo in the summer of 2018 and while I was initially going to buy them, the price made me put them back on the shelf and walk away. I believe they were about $49 for a pack of 10 and at the time, I had no idea if I would even like them. I’ll just stick to my daubers and sponges for that price.

A few weeks later I was out shopping and I noticed similar brushes in the cosmetics aisle at Walmart. Of course – makeup brushes! I went on Amazon and searched for ‘oval makeup brushes’ and what did I find? Brushes that look ‘almost’ identical to the ones being sold as ink blending brushes within the crafting community. Here’s the thing though, these ones were only about $12 for a set of 10. I compared photos to the expensive brand name crafting ones and the size and shapes looks the same for each brush in the set. See this photo above of the brushes I bought and compare them to the brand names brushes for yourself if you wish.

Let’s go back to the part where I said these are ‘almost’ identical. I want to be clear that I say ‘almost’ because I didn’t have both kinds to compare side by side and I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the craft brand (which I am not naming here) that their version was in fact something more than cheap makeup brushes. I would like to believe that they were not buying $12 packs of makeup brushes and sticking their label on them to sell for $50. I eventually did buy a sample pack of two from the craft brand so I could compare them side by side and I found two differences. First, the Amazon brushes are a little more flexible in the handle of the brush. Second, the more expensive blending brushes have a slightly more rounded/convex shape to the bristles compared to the Amazon brushes which have a flatter surface. Do these things make a difference? Do the cheap ones work just as well or should you splurge on the expensive version? Watch my video to find out!

Ok, so you’ve watched the video! What are your thoughts? Do you also have both kinds and do you find any difference in how they blend? Have you bought makeup brushes for blending ink and do you like them? Please leave comments at the bottom of this page!

One last thing that I want to make clear. I do not support buying knock off craft products. I do not buy unbranded dies or stamps because the designs may have been illegally stolen from small businesses and sold by companies overseas who are not licensed to reproduce them. This is wrong on many levels and I only buy from reputable craft companies when it comes to my stamps and dies. I strongly believe that you get what you pay for and I respect copyright law. In this case though, this style brush has been around a lot longer as makeup brushes and the craft community has only recently taken notice and started selling them as a craft product. Lots of products have multiple uses and I don’t believe that any craft company independently came up with the idea for these brushes that just happen to look and feel just like makeup brushes. If you have the money and want to support small craft business, by all means – buy the branded blending brushes! Your independent craft retailer and the craft brands that sells these will thank you. In my case, I would rather buy cheap makeup brushes and spend the rest of my money on other craft supplies.

Black Ink Comparison

I haven’t had much time to write blog posts lately but I do have a lot of content in the works. I will be sharing some new cards soon and I will be traveling later this week and through the summer, so more photography will be featured in the near future.

Recently, I did find the time to compare some black inks and I would like to share my findings with you. I mostly color with alcohol based markers so in these tests, I only compared alcohol friendly inks. In other words, inks that don’t bleed when colored over with alcohol based markers.

Disclaimer: these are strictly my opinions and I am not affiliated with any of these brands. I purchased all of these inks with my own money and have not received any discount for reviewing these products.

The inks I compared are: Momento – Tuxedo Black, Gina K – Amalgam Black, Lawn Fawn – Jet Black, Ink on 3 – Blackout, Brutus Monroe – Raven Detail Ink and Altenew – Permanent Black. All of these inks are safe to use with alcohol markers (as in, it won’t bleed when colored over), and all but Momento are fine to use with water based markers as well. I chose these inks as I see them mentioned regularly among stampers as favorite black inks and I wanted to see for myself which ones I should use in my card making.


In order to easily compare these inks, I wanted to keep my method consistent. To do this, I used a stamp platform and kept the stamps in the same place for each ink test by moving my paper around. I cleaned between each brand using stamp shammy and a little stamp cleaner, and allowed the stamps to fully dry before inking them up again. I tested these inks in two different tests.


For Test 1, I loaded two stamps with ink. On the left side is a swatch stamp from Simon Says Stamp, and on the right side is a sentiment stamp (from Altenew) that has 2 different fonts in it. I wanted to show how well each ink covered a stamp, as well as how crisp the ink remained for tiny letters. I only added ink to each stamp once and did not re-stamp to cover any missing spots.

Results:

As you can see, the Momento ink is a slightly different shade then the rest and I think it has the best coverage out of all of these for both the swatch stamp and sentiment. Altenew did well on the swatch stamp but Gina K, Lawn Fawn, Ink on 3 and Brutus Monroe leave a very slight speckled look in the areas that should be solid black. As for the text, only Momento gave 100% coverage, with all the rest looking very similar to each other.


For the Test 2, I used the same sentiment from Test 1. On the left side I added ink once and stamped it using my stamp platform. On the right side, I inked the stamp and stamped once, then added more ink and stamped again. This allows me to see how sharp/crisp the letters remained if I added more ink to improve coverage.

Results:

As you can see with these results, Momento is the clear winner with only one layer of ink, however, when I added more ink and stamped again, Momento became bolder and lost some of the sharpness in the text. When I added a second layer of ink to the remaining brands, the result was much better coverage and perfectly crisp text.

To conclude, if you have a stamp platform and don’t mind adding ink and re-stamping for better coverage, you can’t go wrong with any of these brands. If you want to stamp once and be done with it, Momento may be the best ink for the job. Keep in mind however that Momento will run if you try to color over it with water based inks or watercolor paint.

One thing I noticed in this experiment is how similar some of these inks are to one another. Excluding Momento, the remaining inks appear identical in color and very similar in coverage and crispness. The Gina K, Lawn Fawn, Ink on 3, Brutus Monroe and Altenew inks that I tested here are also safe for both water and alcohol based coloring (some companies call these hybrid inks). In many industries, it is common to find the exact same product under different labels and while I am not sure if that is the case here, I suspect that the ink formulas used are very similar to one another. To my eyes, you only need one of these inks in your stash, but if anyone with inside knowledge of these inks are reading this, I would love if it you could comment on what makes your brand’s ink formula unique compared to your competitors.


What craft product would you like me to compare next?

Glimmer Paste vs. Glitter Glaze

The opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I purchased these products with my own money and was not compensated in any way for my review. In the past 6 months or so I’ve been introduced to two very similar products: Nuvo Glimmer Paste and Brutus Monroe Glitter Glaze. Both of these products are wet … Continue reading “Glimmer Paste vs. Glitter Glaze”

The opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I purchased these products with my own money and was not compensated in any way for my review.

In the past 6 months or so I’ve been introduced to two very similar products: Nuvo Glimmer Paste and Brutus Monroe Glitter Glaze. Both of these products are wet mediums that allow you to apply glitter to your paper products without the mess of dry glitter. I’ve collected a few colors of each and decided to do a product comparison for anyone trying to decide if either of these products are right for them. Hope this helps your buying decision!


Price:

Glitter Glaze: $6.99 for 1.5oz ($4.66/oz)

Glimmer Paste: $7.99 for 1.7oz ($4.70/oz)

My thoughts: the Glitter Glaze is a little cheaper but the price difference isn’t enough to make a huge dent in my opinion.


Variety:

Glitter Glaze: currently comes in 12 colors. ‘Unicorn Horn’ is the closest to silver but it has flecks of other colors in it for interest. There is also a gold, black, pink, yellow, blue etc. ‘Emerald’ is a perfect Christmas green and ‘Scarlet’ is a great Christmas red. Best of all there is ‘Glow in the Dark’!

Glimmer Paste: with 15 colors available, the Glimmer Paste has a slight advantage over the Glitter Glaze. There is silver and gold and black, pink, purple and blue. There is also the perfect Christmas green and red colors. While there is no glow in the dark, Glimmer Paste comes in ‘Moonstone’ which is a glittery white color. I’ve used this to make snow and it is perfect (see the very last photo in this post).

My thoughts: I have my favorites from both collections. ‘Glow in the Dark’ Glitter Glaze and ‘Moonstone’ Glimmer Paste are must-have products for me. Glitter Glaze has yellow and orange which Glimmer Paste does not have, but I don’t see myself using those colors much anyway. My primary glitter needs are gold, silver, red and green which both brands have covered, although, if you need a more traditional silver, stick with the Glimmer Paste.


Texture/color:

Glitter Glaze: it is a paste with a bit of a milky color which goes away as it dries. It is thinner than the Glimmer Paste and a little easier to spread. If you wanted to completely cover an area you may have to build it up in layers, or pile it on thick (which would take longer to dry). The word “Glaze” seems to mean very little as there is no additional gloss or shine beyond what is given from the glitter. I was hoping this product would be a cross between glitter and glossy accents but sadly this isn’t the case. I suppose you can always layer glossy accents on top though.

Glimmer Paste: a thick paste. The color you see is the color you get. The glitter is denser so you can cover an area in one application but because of the density it doesn’t spread as far compared to a similar amount of the Glitter Glaze.

My thoughts: I like the ease in which the Glitter Glaze spreads compared the the Glimmer Paste which is denser/more concentrated. If you are looking for solid coverage the Glimmer Paste is the way to go but if you are looking to add sparkle over something that already has color, you may like the Glitter Glaze better. With only one application of the Glitter Glaze you are left with a product that has nicely spaced glitter bits. A similar application of Glimmer Paste creates a solid section of glittery goodness.

Here you see the Glitter Glaze using a pea sized amount of the product spread with a palette knife. Note how the glitter is spread out. You’d need to put it on thick or do multiple layers if you want full coverage
Here is the Glimmer Paste. A pea sized amount doesn’t go as far as it did with the Glitter Glaze but it is much more concentrated and covers well. Note how the wet color matches the final dried application

Dry time / Ease of Use:

Glitter Glaze: dries quickly but it isn’t instant. If applying lightly, give it about 30-45 minutes before touching that area. I would wait a few hours before putting the project into something (like an envelope). The glitter does not flake off when dry!

Glimmer Paste: this product dries very fast and also does not flake glitter once dry. When using a stencil and palette knife to apply it to paper, you must work quickly. Even if you soak the stencil in hot water after, some glitter will be permanently glued to your stencil. This won’t do damage if some glitter remains, but be sure to rinse your stencil as soon as your are finished to get rid of the majority of the paste (same goes for your palette knife). Another warning: it dries solid! Do not put the lid back on if there is paste around the rings of the container. It will act as a glue and you’ll never get the lid to come off again. If you do get the paste in the rings, just use a baby wipe and wipe it away before it dries. By the same token, don’t leave the lid off too long or you’ll risk having the whole container dried out.

My thoughts: both products dry fast enough for my use. I haven’t had any mis-adventures with the Glitter Glaze (yet) so I can’t give you any additional advice like I did with the Glimmer Paste.


Final thoughts:

I think if I had to choose, I would primarily stick with the Glimmer Paste by Nuvo, and supplement my collection with the Glitter Glaze ‘Glow in the Dark’ and the ‘Unicorn Horn’ multi colored sparkle. I like the solid coverage I get with the Glimmer Paste and a little goes a long way. When I am using a paste like this, I am doing so because I want a lot of glitter and that is exactly what the Glimmer Paste provides. I can easily coat a section of paper, let it dry, and it looks as if it was glitter paper to begin with (see the ‘snow’ in the photo below). I think with a few layers of the Glitter Glaze you could achieve similar results but it would take longer and you would use much more product.

I also like how I know what color I am buying with the Nuvo Glimmer Paste. The color you see in the container is very close to the color it dries. With the Brutus Monroe Glitter Glaze, the color dries brighter and darker than you see in the container. The product images online are digitally rendered and are not what you receive (even the container is different than the images on the Brutus Monroe site), so it is confusing to know which one to order for your project if you have a particular color in mind. I want to make it clear that it is not a bad product – it would be great for adding sparkle to anything that already had color, or in places you don’t want a ton of concentrated glitter. The Nuvo Glimmer Paste simply suits my needs better than the Brutus Monroe Glitter Glaze.

The “snow” was made with Nuvo Glimmer Paste in ‘Moonstone’, applied with a palette knife over white cardstock