Paint Dabber tags with Baroque Ornaments

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Hi there! I am revisiting Jennifer McGuire’s free 9-week class at Two Peas in a Bucket called Thinking Inking.

This week I will be revisiting Week 3 of Jennifer’s videos, about Ranger Paint Dabbers, which come in regular colors and metallics. Paint dabbers are basically acrylic paints in a bottle with a convenient applicator tip. They are also designed to match or compliment many of the Distress Ink colors.

1 thing to definitely do

If you are going to try paint dabbers and you’ve never used them before, I would highly recommend watching this video by Tim Holtz first: Paint Dabber Resist. He gives a good explanation of how to get started with paint dabbers, including the right way to “prime” them for use. He also shares what to do if the paint gets thick or a bit dried out.

In fact, I think it is so important, I’m embedding Tim’s video right here:

I’ll tell you why I think it is so important in a minute. First let me tell you the other 9 ways to use paint dabbers.

Techniques in each Thinking Inking video

Each week in Thinking Inking, Jennifer shares 3 videos full of techniques. I re-watched the videos and made notes about how she used paint dabbers. In the videos, Jennifer also uses Cut and Dry Foam for blending and a non-stick craft sheet to protect her work surface.

Here is a list of at least 9 techniques she shared about paint dabbers – and a bunch of others, too:

Week 3 – Part 1: Backgrounds

1. Faux marble background
2. Removing foam from Distress Ink foam tool
3. Coloring die-cut embellishments with Distress Ink
4. Partial stamping on backgrounds
5. Layered masking
6. Faux textured metal
7. Layered stamping & masking (also uses Perfect Pearls)
8. Using the 7Gypsies Binderie Punch

Week 3 – Part 2: Stamp with paint

9. Stamping with paint (clean up afterwards!)
10. Resist with paint using Distress Inks
11. Partial stamping on backgrounds (revisited)
12. Stamping with multiple colors of Distress Inks
13. Embellishing spots/dots with Glossy Accents
14. Stamping with embellishments

Week 3 – Part 3: Resist with clear embossing

15. Dark paint resist
16. Light paint resist
17. Fabric paint resist
18. Coloring stamped images with Distress Ink
19. Adding white highlights with opaque white pen

The following image shows a bunch of butterflies that I colored with Distress Ink, just as Jennifer describes in the third video. (I know – this technique is not about paint dabbers!) I just wanted to show that you can really get a wide range of colors and effects by coloring with Distress Inks!

Butterflies colored with Distress Inks Butterflies colored with Distress Inks

1 thing not to do

I had never tried paint dabbers before, so I thought I would give them a whirl. I bought a few and decided to start by “priming” them for use and by dabbing the shades into my color journal for future reference. Please note that I had not had the privilege of seeing Tim Holtz describe how to get the dabbers started, so I was going by what I recalled from Jennifer’s videos. She had said “squeeze”, so I squeeze and released, thinking this was how to start them.

The fiasco

I started with a Pool color. I squeeze and released, squeezed and released, and squeezed and released about a bazillion times, but I was not getting much color to come out. What did come out was very light and dry and didn’t look at all like what I had seen from Jennifer’s dabbers in the videos. (That’s because I was doing it wrong! You’re supposed to press down and hold – like a paint pen – not squeeze!)

So I decided to try my Aqua color next. I picked it up, tilted it over, and barely squeezed it when it EXPLODED all over. The top portion of the cap which holds the sponge popped out and at least half of the contents of the bottle of paint were immediately ALL OVER my color journal, the papers I was reading underneath it, and a tag project I had been working on. The top part of the cap bounced off the desk and onto the carpet where it kept bouncing and rolling. And getting aqua blue paint everywhere!

The paint on my desk AFTER I'd cleaned most of it up! The paint on my desk AFTER I’d cleaned most of it up!

I think that this particular bottle may have gotten too warm during shipping and the cap must have popped a bit loose due to pressure. And, I was incorrectly applying a bit of pressure to the sides of the bottle – instead of pressing the bottle down to make the valve work, as Tim Holtz shows in his video. All that being said, it didn’t make me happy to have such a mess!

Anyway, the reason why I think it is so important to watch Tim’s video is so THIS doesn’t happen to you:

Paint on the carpet! Paint on the carpet!

I don’t want anyone else to get paint on their carpet!

Paint dabber paint is permanent when it dries

The acrylic paint in paint dabbers is permanent on fabrics once it dries. Unfortunately, I was still under lifting, pushing, and pulling restrictions following my surgery, so I couldn’t clean the carpet right away by myself. I had to put a soaking wet towel down over top of the wet paint on the carpet, until my husband got home, to keep the paint wet and moist so it wouldn’t dry. At least I could clean up the mess on my desk by myself. And set my color journal aside to dry out.

How to get acrylic paint out of your carpet

When my hubby got home, I asked him to help with the carpet. We discussed various possibilities for getting the paint up, and decided to try a diluted solution of Winsor & Newton brush cleaner & restorer in our “steam clean” unit. But, my husband ultimately asked for an empty spray bottle, which he filled with 1/4 Winsor & Newton brush cleaner & restorer and 3/4 water. He sprayed and wiped with paper towels, sprayed and wiped, and kept at it, with elbow grease and lots of patience for about 15 to 20 minutes. And, it all came up! Yay! (Meanwhile, I made dinner for him. I mean, fair is fair!)

Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer

If you don’t have Winsor & Newton brush cleaner & restorer on hand like I did, you might try plain ol’ isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Claudine Hellmuth says it even helps her get dried acrylics out of her clothes.

REVIEW: After my experience with paint dabbers, I have to say that I personally don’t think the fancy sponge applicator is worth it. I realize this means that there can be less mess to clean up in most situations – but, if that sponge tip fails, you have a HUGE mess. I have found that when I use the paint dabber tip right, it works nicely – but, I am still a bit afraid of it! I am only going to use my paint dabbers now by unscrewing the whole top and dipping in a paint brush … which I could do with other, less expensive acrylic paints just as easily. I usually love all things Ranger, but not paint dabbers. They just aren’t my thing!

Do you use acrylics in your projects?

Many of these techniques can also be done using regular craft acrylic paints that you can get at your local hobby store. They may not have the fancy applicator tip – but, that just might save your carpet! I like the fact that I can clean up from acrylics more easily than with oil paints, and I use them a lot in my mixed media work.

What about you? Do you use acrylics? Have you tried paint dabbers? Did you have better luck that I did?

Thanks for stopping by!

{ 8 appreciated comments }

1 Andi Sexton (rrlscrapgal) August 9, 2010 at 8:27 am

Hi Anne! Now that’s what a call one of those 1 in a bazillion chances of a mess! Yikes!!!
I have a collection of paint daubers – just a few. And lots of other acrylic paints. I don’t use them very often, but like knowing I have them in my collection if ever I get the urge!!!!!

Thanks for all the info!

2 Stephanie Roberts August 9, 2010 at 9:47 am

I love your blog. You share so much useful information! I’m bookmarking this post so I can go back to it when I want to know which Thinking Inking video I need to watch next. So helpful – thank you :)
(My mouth dropped in horror as I read about your paint spill… but I’m glad you were able to salvage the carpet!)

3 Barb :) August 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

Fabulous information here, Anne! Thanks so much for always giving great advice and wonderful techniques! Your tags are gorgeous!

4 jennifer mcguire August 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

sorry! i had the newer bottles of paint which you can squeeze gently. my bad!

5 Dawn T August 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm

OH Anne… what a mess… I have to admit that I have never used Dabbers.. I do have a couple of paint tubes but mainly use them for painting chipboard boxes. Your tag looks awesome though. thanks for all the tips and hints.

6 Cheryl August 9, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Oh my gosh Anne – what a mess you had! I’m glad hubby was able to get it all out – smart thinking about keeping the paint wet until he came home. I’ve never had that disaster, but I did order some online and one arrived with a damaged top – there was paint already all over the sponge top. The company I ordered it from was very nice and sent me a second one – that looked exactly the same. So I bought a set of replacement tops and now it’s fine. The company offered to send me a third bottle, but I didn’t think it was worth risking. I also figured that getting twice as much paint was a fair trade-off for having to buy the tops (since the company I bought the bottles from didn’t sell the tops). I don’t use a lot of acrylic paint in my work these days, so my paints may dry up before I use them up! Your tags and butterflies are beautiful, BTW.

7 Linda August 9, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Glad your hubby was able to get the paint up off the carpet. That would be so bad if it didn’t come up. I hear Ivory hand soap gets hardened paint off of paint brushes, maybe it would work on carpet too.

I use acrylics in my journal all the time. I should try those now that I know how to prime them. Thanks for the info.

8 Laura H. October 14, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I like the way the paint dabber can be used to apply paint to stamps for fabric stamping. HOWEVER, I just found out the fabric stamping washed out on a sweatshirt top that I make. I am going to sew another sweatshirt top and try again. I did not heat set this. Was that the problem? Thanks for advice.
Laura H.

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