Posted in blending, Bullet Journal, ink, mixed media

Using Distress Oxide Ink Blending in my Bullet Journal

I have recently taken a liking to using Distress Oxide inks inside of my Bullet Journal. After seeing a lot of mixed media creators using it for their paper projects, I thought to myself, why can’t I use this in my Bullet Journal??? It’s paper. So I started down the fantastic rabbit hole of learning about how to use these inks and blending brushes to create some very cool looking pages.

My initial fears about trying this ink blending:

  1. It’s going to be messy ❌
  2. The ink is going to bleed through my pages ❌
  3. I am going to stain everything ❌
  4. I’m going to love it so much and do it all the time ✅

I can honestly tell you that all of my fears were put to rest when I tried this out for the first time. And now that i’ve done it, i can’t get enough. Here are all the details about this ink and blending method and how you can use it in your own Bullet Journal.


The Ink

The ink that we are using here is the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide from Ranger Ink. The brand of the ink is really important when doing this method because it is made to do exactly what we are trying to do. It’s a water-based pigment and it’s a dye and ink fusion. This is different from your regular old ink pad because of this fusion. And, because it’s water-based, it’s SUPER easy to clean up. I accidently turned one of my ink pads over on my desk and I was able to clean it right up with a damp paper towel. Because it’s water-based, it can also create some neat interactions with water, which we will talk about later.

These inks comes in a TON of different colors. I have a few of my favorite on my Amazon Shop HERE

Blending Brushes

I love when I am making a video or reel and someone comments, “Um… that looks like the blenders I use for my makeup”. HAHA, that’s because it probably is. I can say that I have no clue what a makeup blending brush is or exactly how you use it, but I can assume that you put makeup on it and blend it on your face. Well, that’s exactly how you use these with the Distress Oxide on paper. These brushes are SUPER soft, which is important so that you get that smooth texture on the paper when blending. There are many different sizes too. If you are just getting started, I’d recommend just getting this pack. It’s 5 of them, all one size, and super easy.

These even come with little stickers that you can place on your brush if you want to designate 1 color per brush. If not, it’s okay, because they are really easy to clean. Rinse with water and air dry – done.


It’s easy to go deep into the stencil rabbit hole. There are SO many options out there. But, if you are looking to take on this hobby to use in your Bullet Journal, then I would suggest finding ones that lean towards Bullet Journals that have shapes, icons, and banners. Now, many of these stencils are more for pen or pencils outlining and tracing, but why not also use them for ink and blending? There are also some really cool texture stencils you can use. My two favorite stencils to use are ones from Sunny Streak and also this big 30 Piece Collection from Amazon.

Washi Tape

I am not the biggest fan, personally, of using Washi tape in my journal. I will every now and again, but not very often. Yet somehow I have accumulated rolls and rolls of the stuff. Well now I have a perfect use for it! When you are using the blending brushes and the stencils, you want to make sure the stencil stay where you put it. What’s great about washi is that it has a light stick, which means you should not have any issue repositioning it and reusing it in your journal to secure your stencil. It’s also great to block out any stencil icons or area you want to make sure you are not getting onto your page.


Let’s Get Started!

Now that you have all your materials, we can get blending! One way to use the stencils and ink is as headers or day/date holders in your weekly spreads. I make sure that my stencil is big, or small, enough for the space I am using it.

Next, I use my washi tape to secure the stencil to my page.

Now, take your blending brush, and you are going to rub it on the top of the ink pad, giving it a little pressure to make sure that the ink is getting on to your brush head.

And now you start blending. I like to use circular motions to ensure that I am getting nice coverage on my page. If I feel like the ink is too light or not covering enough, I will go back and add more ink to my brush. If you are really adventurous, try 2 different color inks and layer and blend them together.

Once you are done, carefully pull up your stencil from your paper. How cool, right!?

If you are using this for more than just one header, you will want to carefully place your stencil down on your next space, and repeat the steps above to apply the ink.

Adding Texture

If you want to add a little texture to your ink, you totally can. The Distress Oxide is actually made to pair with water. There are a lot of ways to use the ink with water, but for me, I like to use it when the ink is on the page. I take a paint brush and flick the water onto the page. You can let the water sit for a few seconds… let’s say 10 seconds, and then use a paper towel to blot the water off the page. And now you have a nice texture over your blended ink.

Dry Time

I was SO surprised to find that this ink doesn’t need a lot of dry time. If you are adding the water for texture, like we just discussed, you may need a little more dry time. Even without the extra water, it is still ink, so you need to give it a moment to dry just like any stamp. It’s hard to believe that this smooth and silky stencils image is not going to bleed on your page or smear after it’s dried. It just looks too good to be true!


Writing on Top of the Ink

Once you have your ink down and it’s dry, you may want to add some text to your header. You should be good with any type of gel pen or brush pen. In my example I used the Zenstations Brush pen from Zebra. It’s becoming my favorite brush pen for a lot of reasons… one being it works great with this method.

Be careful of certain fountain pen inks. Depending on your paper in your journal, it might become extra porous with adding the ink from your stamp and then adding extra ink on top of that. I have had a variety of successes and failures with fountain pen inks, so I have been staying away from them when doing this, just to be safe. But, I am all about exploring and you should too. Just use a scrap piece of paper first to make sure the inks work okay together.

I hope that you found this tutorial to be helpful and fun. I have been really enjoying working with this new medium and experimenting. My next big adventure is going to be making my own stencils. I will be sure to post a video and tutorial on that as well when i’m done.

Talk soon!