Ink Distressing Technique for Paper and Cardstock

Inking the edges of your cardstock and scrapbook paper will make them stand out on your scrapbook layouts and handmade cards. This is one of my favorite distressing techniques, and I use it in many different ways:

  • Die cuts tend to fade into the background or get lost on a page when there are a lot of competing elements. This provides a quick and easy fix to that problem.
  • Vintage is very popular, but how can you add a timeworn look to your brand new pages? Inking the edges of your entire layout, as well as different scrapbooking elements, such as photo mats and embellishments, will give it an antique look.
  • It’s common to use several different patterns and colors when putting together a single layout. Unify these patterns and colors by using the same color ink on various elements of your scrapbook page.

There are many different methods that you can use, but the technique that I am going to share with you below is the only one that I use. I have tried other ways, but I like this one best because, quite simply, I think it provides the best results – it’s quick and easy, not too messy, and looks great!

This distress ink tutorial is by Kristin Wilson Handmade. It’s a quick six minute video, and text instructions are available below the video.

One final note . . . this technique does require a small investment in tools and supplies. The initial outlay shouldn’t set you back more than $25, but if you are on a limited budget, in my instructions, I provide some ideas for everyday household items that you can use.

Supplies Needed

  • Tim Holtz Distress Inks
  • Inkssentials Ink Blending Tool & Foam (alternative: makeup sponges)
  • Inkssentials Non-Stick Craft Sheet (alternative: parchment or freezer paper)

Tim Holtz Distress Inks come in a range of great colors. I find that the brown hues work great when I want a vintage, shabby chic look. However, I also often reach for pale to medium blue hues, especially when working with white or grey paper.

STEP ONE: Attach the Foam Pad to the Blending Tool

Tim Holtz Distress Inks

The foam pads are relatively inexpensive, and you should have one for each color stamp pad that you own. The base of the blending tool is velcro, and when you need to change it, simply pull off the foam pad and replace it with the one that you need.

STEP TWO: Load the Ink on Your Pad

Using the Foam Pad

Load the ink onto the foam pad. A little goes a long way, so start off with just a little, and if you need more, you can always dab a few more times.

STEP THREE: Start on Your Craft Mat

Inkssentials Nonstick Craft Sheet

Do not apply directly to your cardstock or paper. Instead, rub the tool in a circular motion on your craft mat first, working slowly in towards the item you are inking. Continue applying the ink gently along the edge of your item, always working in a circular motion.

STEP FOUR: Continue Inking

Adding Ink to Cardstock Edges

Most of the time, it will not be necessary to reload the blending tool. Continue around the perimeter of the cardstock or paper, always working in a circular motion and blending towards the item. You will get ink on your craft mat, but no worries – it easily wipes clean with a paper towel.


Cardstock with Distress Ink

So, there you have it – that’s how to distress paper with ink!

Other Tips

  • Your results will vary depending on several factors, including the color and texture of your paper or cardstock. Do a test piece first and make sure you are happy with the results before proceeding.
  • If you are using multiple colors, always change the foam pad; also, apply lighter hues first.