Does it blend? New vs Old Blending Brushes and Sponges

Hi friends! Today we are going to compare the new “make-up” style ink blending brushes to color dusters (they look like shaving brushes) as well as blending sponges.

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I tested them over a stencil (above) as well as fading the ink off onto paper as I did with the clouds below. (Cloud die from My Favorite Things)

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Watch the video to see all the brushes and sponges in action and see what’s right for you and how your favorite tool compares!

An overview of the materials (Affiliate links used when available)

New Ink Blending Brushes. I purchased mine at a stamp show, the multi-pack I bought was $20 from double Trouble but they are sold out online. Prior to purchasing, I used a friend’s set who said she ordered this set on Amazon half what I paid at the show. I was so impressed I bought a set!

These are the Life Changing Brushed from Picket Fence Studio if you want the best of the best. (or at least the first ones to be used with crafting)  That set has the 4 larger brushes for $25

Pros of the new “make-up style” brush:

  • Captured fine detail for stenciling
  • Very Smooth ink blending with both dye and pigment inks
  • Easy to clean, most ink transfers to paper with hardly any left on the brush. Wipe brush of a rag and move on to next color without needing to wash it.
  • Very smooth fades when working off a mask on for rouging the edge of a paper.
  • No awkward ink blotches even when you stat on the paper instead of off the edge. Foolproof blending.
  • These can be compactly stored on your table in a small jar

Cons of “Makeup Style Brushes”

  • It takes longer to apply the ink over a surface
  • They can be more expensive than other methods HOWEVER you don’t need as many as they wipe clean so easily between colors
  • You could snap the neck of the brush and stain your wrists if you hold the brush at the end rather than supporting it at the head/neck area. My natural inclination was to hold it at the neck with my finger supporting the back of the bristle area and it was very comfortable to use. Not much pressure is needed this way.

Color Dusters (Judikins, Rubber Stamp Tapestry and the new Tim Holtz/Ranger ones in the silver tubes are all examples. Also called ink sweepers and sometimes come on long handles. These have stiffer course bristles made of hog)
Judikins color dusters
Tonic
Tim Holtz
Rubber Stamp Tapestry

Pros of Color Duster style brush:

  • Quick soft blends
  • Easy to use
  • The more you use a brush the better it gets as the ink buildup in the brush primes the bristles
  • They won’t wear out

Cons of Color Duster style brush:

  •  You need a brush for every color family (reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, browns, greens, blues, purples, greys, black)
  • You get a less defined look when used with a stencil or mask.
  • Although you get a very even application of color with little effort the stiffness of the bristles give the blend a bit of texture

Foam style blenders. Examples of this are:
Ranger blending foam
Colorbox Stylus
Fingertip daubers
My Homemade make-up wedge and bottle cap blenders (my favorite!)

Pros of Foam Blenders/ Blending sponges

  • Inexpensive
  • You can achieve a bold saturated color or a softer blended color (skill required)
  • The more you use them the better they get (until they wear out)
  • They are inexpensive enough to have a blender for every inkpad you have and many brands (such as Ranger) have a reusable handle that you can swap out the foams on so you can store a lot is a little space.

Cons of Foam/Sponge blenders:

  • You need a sponge for every color family, many crafters have a sponge for every inkpad to ensure they don’t cross contaminate their pads as it is easier to transfer color from the sponge to a pad.
  • They take practice to get good results
  • It takes longer with foams than color dusters to blend.
  • They eventually wear out and start to break apart but you can get a couple years out of them.

I also wanted to mention the Darice sponge daubers I showed at the end. I like them for coloring stamped images but not for use with stencils or large areas because I don’t think they can take the heavy use. Unfortunately, I can’t find them online. I got them at a stamp show years ago.

What is your favorite? I think they are all useful and you can pick one and be happy with the result. The most important thing is that you practice and learn to use what you have.

 

Comparison Between Pan Pastels, Jane Davenport Palette Pastels and Eye Shadow

Hi friends, Have you ever wondered how these similar supplies compare? Well so did I am today I put them to the test side by side and the results were pretty surprising!

Each media will present advantages and disadvantages depending on what your needs are and what you want to paint but coverage and application wise they all preformed about the same!

Let’s look at each product on its own

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Pan Pastels

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Pros:

  • Large pans of color
  • Brightest pure (saturated) colors available
  • Pigment numb
  • rs listed on pans
  • Lightfast
  • 94 colors available (including metallics and mediums) and each color can be purchased individually
  • You can mix colors on the sponge before bringing it to your paper

Cons:

  • Price: Each color costs $5-$7 each open stock, less per pans in sets
  • They take up a lot of space on your table

Jane Davenport Palette Pastels

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Pros:

  • Come in 18 color sets for $20 (often on sale and can be purchased with a coupon at Micheal’s)
  • The colors fall between the painting and tint sets of pan pastels and can be used with them to expand the range.
  • There are 4 sets available and they all lock together saving space on your work table.
  • Best for portrait work due to color assortment.

Cons:

  • No open stock option so if you use a color you need a new set to replace it.
  • Small pans could be used up quickly if you really like them.
  • Colors are not as saturated as pan pastels so getting deep darks may be difficult if only using these pastels. I think given the size of the palette and the color range these would be best as a final layer over another medium like acrylic, gouache or watercolor.
  • No lightfast or pigment info so I wouldn’t trust them for work to sell

Cheap Eyeshadow

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Pros:

  • Cheapest, I found a 120 color assortment of brights, pastels and neutrals for $12 on Amazon (the set I used was an ELF set for Target I paid $14 for years ago)
  • Coverage was similar to JD pastels and pan pastels so you can see if you like it before investing in the pricier options
  • Compact, takes up less space on your table

Cons:

  • Tiny pans that will use up quickly and no open stock option
  • No lightfast or pigment info so I wouldn’t trust them for work to sell

 

Bottom Line: My advice is to try out one of the cheaper options with the Pan Pastel applicators to see if you like them and then proceed with pan pastels if you find you need more media. The 20 color sets (or 80 color set if you can swing it ) is the lowest price per pan option if you find you like it. They are a wonderful mess free option to stick pastels.

I hope you found this useful and til next time happy crafting!

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