Classic ink vs. Craft ink

stamped tissue boxOne of the most commonly asked questions I get is, “what is the difference between craft ink and classic ink?”  I thought I’d take a post to try and answer that question.  Usually when I’m doing a class or party I don’t launch into a long list, so I thought this would be a good spot to define it all.

I think the easiest way to go about this will be to just list out all the facts I can think of about the two inks.  So, here goes . . .

Classic (Dye) Ink

  • Dries quickly – you should be able to stamp your image and run your hand over it within moments and not have smearing (at least that’s true with SU! classic ink, I’m not sure about other dye inks that are out there).
  • Wonderful for cardmaking
  • Quick, easy, cheaper
  • You will not see more than a watermark if you stamp a light color onto dark paper.

Craft (Pigment) Ink

  • Recommend above classic ink for scrapbooking because it won’t fade.  (I also like to use it for any kind of home decor stamping I do because once again I don’t want it to fade over time.)
  • Does NOT dry quickly.  Depending how “juicy” the pad is, it may take a good while.  You can use a Heat tool to speed up the process
  • You can use a light color ink to stamp on dark paper and see the image well.  (ie. I used Ballet Blue and Mellow Moss craft ink along with A Rose is a Rose stamp set to stamp on this tissue box that is covered with Chocolate Chip cardstock.)  This adds a whole new world of things you can do!
  • You can use carft ink for embossing.  Some like to even use this ink with clear embossing powder to get colored embossing.  (I personally don’t like the look all that much but some do.)
  • Some colors, like Whisper White and Very Vanilla, only come in craft ink.  You would never see them if you stamped it in classic ink so there is no need to make it.
  • You can use this to stamp on some fabrics like silk scarves (it does need to be heat set or at least left out to dry for at least 24 hours).

I hope this helps you some as you think about the kind of ink you want to invest in.  If I had to say which I use the most, probably the classic but I am using craft more and more.  Because I’m a scrapbooker I have recently been investing in the craft inks to go along with my classic inks.  For me, they are both important to have but that’s not going to be true for most.

As you make your decision, think about what you plan to stamp.  If it’s cards only, then go for classic ink and then just by white and vanilla in craft.  That would definately be my choice.  If you’re going to be doing even some scrapbook pages, then invest in the craft inks and keep your heat tool handy so you can dry it quickly.  There is absolutely no reason craft can’t be used on cards (but I think sometimes people get that mentality. 

Don’t forget that when it comes to the Stampin’ Up! inks, they do come in the large size as well as the little Stampin’ Spots.  If you want a lot of colors the Stampin’ Spots might be the way to go.  This allows you to get 12 colors at a good price.  Once you use the little spots and find the colors you use the most, then you may wish to buy those colors in the larger pads.  We do have ink refills for both craft and classic ink and they can be used on any size ink pad.

If you have further questions or I think of something that I forgot to mention just leave a comment!


  1. Thank you. Just the answer that I needed.

  2. Thank you for clarifying the difference between the two. I’ve had several people ask me and I couldn’t tell them.

  3. Can you stamp with craft and then sprinkle on glitter…will the glitter stick?

    • Thank you for your question Sarah. I’m afraid the craft ink will not hold on glitter. You would need to add heat and stick powder to the mix. Stamp your image in craft ink, pour on heat and stick powder, heat the powder and then pour on the glitter. You can see a tutorial on Heat and Stick powder under the “Tutorials” catagory (catagories are listed in the rigth column of my blog). Everything would be the same as in the tutorial, just that you’d be using craft ink instead of versamark.

  4. Can you use the craft ink to do wedding napkins and other pieces that you do not want to smear or run if they get wet?

    • Hi Jeanine,

      Thank you for your question. To be quite truthful, I’m not sure. I personally have used Classic ink on napkins before (just a little decoration in the corner) and they were fine. If you’re talking about the napkins getting fairly wet though, I’m not sure if either ink will stand up to that real well. I would suggest giving it a try, making sure the craft ink dries well and then get the napkin wet and see how it fairs.

  5. This was super helpful! Thank you so much!!!!

  6. Can you use a craft ink refill on a classic ink pad?

    • Hi Naomi,

      Thank you for your question. No, you do not want to use a craft ink refill on a classic ink pad. The two inks are made of different substances and therefore the ink pads required to accommodate those substances are different. A craft (pigment) ink needs an ink pad that is more sponge-like, where a classic (die) ink is going to use either a felt ink pad or a foam ink pad.

      I hope that helps!

  7. Thank you for you informative comparison of the inks… my question is whether or not the Classic Inks dry to be a permanent ink… or are they re-activated if water touches them… like a Distress Ink..?

  8. Is there a way to dilute the craft ink so it can be used to refill the ink in the stampin up markers? I didnt realize they had two types of refill ink and bought the crat ink on accident!!

  9. I have lots of craft and classic ink pads that dried before I used them. Is there a way to refresh these pads? I’m retired now and look forward to crafting 24-7.

  10. This is just what I have been looking for! I have bought most of my stampin up stamp pads used – and never knew that there was a difference. How can I tell on the ink pad, and also, how can I tell on the reinkers what they are? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Linda,

      We have not sold Craft Ink Pads for a number of years now, however, our new ink pads and refills still say “Classic” on them. So, check to see whether the Stampin’ Up! ink pad says “Classic” or “Craft” and that should let you know.

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