Why Add Fragrances to Rubber Stamp Ink? (Roz Vents)

September 19, 2016


Above: Ink and gouache sketch, with Memento Rubber Stamp ink details (box bits and stencil). Oh, and Washi tape. It's all on a page in the Shinola Sketchbook that I worked in earlier this year.

It's true, almost all year I've been in such a mood over rubber stamp ink. Why? Especially since I recently gave all my rubber stamps away (more about this in a future post).

I've been in a mood because my favorite rubber stamp ink that I've been using since the about 2001 has changed!!!! Brilliance Stamp Ink from Tsukineko now has FRAGRANCE added. I've probably grumbled about this a little in other posts.

BEFORE THIS CHANGE it was the best stamp ink for my purposes because it was pigmented, water resistant (I actually found it waterproof on most papers), virtually odor free, quick drying, and available in a ton of sparkling colors and flat colors that were opaque and yummy.

The new fragrance is actually quite startling in a bad way because it's ROSE fragrance and my grandmother, named Rose, actually used perfume of that smell. I hate perfume, and I'm not fond of rose perfume, even though I loved my grandmother. Life is confusing that way.

Let's just say I wish flowers didn't smell!

But I really, really wish that stamp inks didn't smell.

I have a friends in the rubber stamp business from when I did a lot of mail art. I asked one of them about this. She confirmed that all her new pads had the same fragrance. She told me the ink company wanted the pads to smell nice for the female audience. EEEEEE. They are so mistaken. All my female stamping friends want nothing to do with fragrance. 

Before the fragrance was added all you had was a slight smell that was hardly noticeable for about 20 seconds. That's it, nothing really. And now—well I would have to air out any stamped pieces for 3 weeks before I could approach the journal again.

So with the help of some stamping friends I started to look around for alternatives. The news is not good. I have been in the process of testing the inks on various papers and ranking the odor of each (from chemical to floral—both ends of the spectrum being awful for me). It will be a big post and I'm not going into it today. 

Today is my day to vent a little sadness. Today's image is how I would work all the time if I had non-smelly rubber stamp ink. It's messy, loose, and oh, so fun!

I broke down in the middle of my tests and just started throwing things at this paper (Shinola Sketchbook). It held unto this mixed media treatment and the gouache worked well on its surface. I had a ton of fun.

The stamp ink I was using was Memento. I can't tell you exactly how it rates in my tests because I don't have my lists in front of me (but I'll share all that soon). 

I would like to have this much fun every day, without smelling roses or anything else.

For while it looked as if I would have to give up my main mixed media techniques all together. I now sort of see a way out of the woods, but the way has lots of undergrowth I'll have to chop through and that's never fun. Art should be fun and rubber stamp ink should NOT SMELL OF ROSES.

Enjoy your favorite products while you can, because one day you'll go to Michael's and bring home some ink pads and open them and get hit with a floral scent that knocks you back across the room. And the smell won't becoming from the absorbed fragrances that everything from Michael's carries out of the store.

I try to prepare you all for things changing: paper, pencils, inks, paints, and now of course rubber stamp ink. But I have to tell you this has had me in quite a mood.

I used rubber stamp ink that I had on hand in my 2016 Fake Journal (here's a link to one page). When you look at the journal as a whole you can see that I was using ink pads that were running dry (as I was out of reinkers that weren't fragranced) and I was grumpy.


DO NOT write in and tell me they added the fragrance to mask a chemical smell because there wasn't one with Brilliance. They just really screwed up.

OK, I've got it out of my system for now. I'll go work on compiling my test notes.

    • SusanLily
    • September 19, 2016

    I love this mixed media sketch. The fun you had creating it shows!

    This post reminds me of when our local Kroger did a store remodel last year and handed each customer a “you spoke and we listened” flyer proclaiming to be making the changes because they wanted their customers to have a happy shopping experience. I remember thinking, who the heck wrote in and said, I will never have a happy shopping experience at Kroger until the toilet paper is moved to the snack aisle!? Toilet paper. In the snack aisle. Seriously? Personally, I was happy with the aisles the way they were. But nobody asked me.

    I have a few fragrance sensitivities, too, and I don’t want my art supplies smelling like perfume either. What are companies thinking?

  1. Reply

    That’s an eye-catching piece, and I’m glad I can’t smell it. I love how you colorfully capture shadows.

    We have gone fragrance-crazy and it is an awful trend. If I want to smell roses, I’ll buy roses, the same for cinnamon and vanilla. Added fragrance smells like chemicals to me and always makes me pull away. Thanks for the post/rant. I agree completely and, if I ever buy art supplies that smell of artificial fragrance, I promise to return them for a refund immediately.

    • joanne
    • September 20, 2016

    Sigh…..Everything I buy has to be fragrance free. No scent at all. Gives me a migraine.
    I am stubbornly against change in anything. I will shout and call the owners of whatever I buy–bad names. Refuse to buy any of their products etc. Write letters.

    right now, I haven’t a cereal to eat for breakfast. Everyone conspired to change the recipe of their cereals (the ones I can eat) and even oatmeal is out now that I find myself “allergic” to it.

    Paper and pens–things I adore— it sends me into a tailspin if they change the surface texture of the paper or the tips of the pens. And they do. Glue sticks. All stinky. Why?

  2. Reply

    Thanks Kathy, this one doesn’t smell though—memento has a light chemical odor but it is barely noticeable with most folks I tested it with, and for me it is quickly dried and non-smelly—however there are other issues with it as a replacement ink.

    I’m with you about added smells, I can’t go into Michaels except if Ihave a friend in case I pass out! (There are other reasons too—I’m easily distracted by the stuff they have, but it’s the smell,and on everything when I get home!)

  3. Reply

    Joanne, so sorry you can’t even get an oatmeal that works now.

    Have you tried shopping at a co-op and getting bulk oatmeal?

    Good luck with your allergies!

    • Sharon Nolfi
    • September 20, 2016

    Totally agree with you on the fragrance issue! Thanks for sharing this information and rant.

    • joanne
    • September 21, 2016

    Hey Roz–not sure it’s oatmeal. This reactive testing is not always true the first time. so, I have to wait to retest. Right now in the midst of huge allergic reaction (to what??) so have to wait for things to calm down. I think some oatmeal is contaminated with other grains. I usually like Bob’s. Rye seems to be okay. But no one makes a rye cereal. So, will wait for rash to calm down and go away and then try Bob’s oatmeal again. also–Soy is in everything.

  4. Reply

    Hope you can discover what it is. Soy is in everything!!!!

  5. Reply

    I hope to have another post up on the inks I’ve tried out so stay tuned Sharon!

    • Suzanne
    • September 23, 2016

    Well, the older you get, the more you realize that when they change things “for the better” it usually isn’t better….it’s worse. I think a lot of companies change their products to charge us more because they are “improved” and therefore should cost more. I can’t stand fragrances either.

    • Meg
    • September 23, 2016

    I agree. I buy no-scented everything. But of course you are never wrong, Roz. 😀

  6. Reply

    I love this piece Roz. Course I love all of your work. I finally got somewhat caught up with some blogs I have long neglected- It is so hard to keep up. I find that I am doing blog posts rarely. I started trying to be regular again and I am sharing work I have made for a show at MacRostie in November. The smell thing…. I agree why do they have to do that? I use Golden open paints in the jar for doing Gelli prints on my large plate and they have an odd odor to me. I so love your work Roz.

  7. Reply

    Terry, you’ve got stronger lungs and an easier going nose than I do. I cannot use the Golden Open for Gelli prints or anything.

    It’s the ammonia you’re smelling. I get an instant headache.

    Great to hear that you are busy making art!

  8. Reply

    Very funny! Now if we could just get the rubber stamp ink people to believe that and listen to me!!!

  9. Reply

    Suzanne, I think that improved as you say is something that means something different for the manufacturer than the consumer. For the manufacturer it means they can do something faster, easier, more cost efficient, and not lose all the characteristics of the product. And for the consumer it typically means a higher cost and lower quality.

    Not always though. Sometimes there are surprises. Moleskin’s sketchbook paper change (which I blogged about—use my search engine to find the post) actually improved the working characteristics of the paper for folks using watercolor, and changed the color, and the odor (a plus for me). But the changes were enough in the areas I needed in order to convert me, and while they aimed for good changes I think they alienated regular customers who had adapted to paper I couldn’t use (because of the odor.

    We just have to keep experimenting so that when change happens we can adapt.

    • Lisa
    • September 26, 2016

    I hear ya. Can we form an organization in support of no-odor added products? The worst is when I tried to buy small, plastic garbage bags at Walmart last weekend. EVERY single brand was SCENTED!!! I went home empty-handed. It’s such a basic thing. . . you wouldn’t think I’d have to shop around for an unscented garbage bag. First world problems. 🙂

    I had no idea Golden Opens had a strong ammonia odor. Thanks for the warning.

    Lovely sketch, Roz. I hope you find an inventive way to stamp. There’s gotta be another ink that you can use.

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