I used to use marker pens years ago when I first got into rubber stamping to add colour to my stamped images. I was introduced to this technique by the talented Dee Grunig – whom I’ve always referred to the queen of colour (and enthusiasm). Back then of course I was very much limited by the styles of stamps on offer over here in the UK so I didn’t quite achieve the looks Id hoped to so I shelved this style of stamping for many years.

More recently I came across the fantastic Altered Journey DVD by the multi-talented Tim Holtz which I obtained from Hearts In Touch. On the DVD Tim demonstrates a technique he calls the Brushless Watercolour Technique – he uses Adirondack inkpads, rubber stamps and of course watercolour paper and spray to create fantastic watercolour style prints.

Ever since I saw the DVD I’ve been wanting to try this technique – as I was really mesmerized by the subtle washes it creates. So I filed the idea away in my head for future reference on the ‘ones to try’ list…

Fast forward a couple of months to about a month ago – As you may be aware I’m a bit of a leaf and foliage stamping nut and love all things ‘natural’; anyway Id had my eye on the ‘real flowers’ range of stamps ever since Hero Arts brought them out but had so far resisted the urge…one day I was surfing on ebay (like you do) and saw an offer which was too good to miss and acquired some of these style of stamps…

I had the stamps out on display for a couple of weeks and hadn’t used them yet; I just liked looking at them! Someone on my Creative Cards group uploaded some cards they had made using the Brushless Watercolour Technique and suddenly the light came on! I remembered the technique Id been meaning to try! And to top it all I had the real flower stamps out already – which I thought would look perfect in watercolour! A message from above!? Who knows but it was meant to be….

Time to dip my toes in the still calm waters known as the Brushless Watercolor Technique…

Basic Brushless Watercolour Technique

First of all I’ll cover the basics of this technique as featured on the Altered Journey DVD.

In the original technique you use the corners of Adirondack dye inkpads to apply the colour to the rubber stamp die, then you use a fine mist water spray to spritz water over the top of the stamp – 1 to 2 sprays is sufficient depending on the size of the stamp and also how much of a wash effect you wish to achieve.

Once sprayed with water you quickly stamp your image onto cold pressed watercolour paper then let dry (or you could heat set if you’re impatient). Finally crop and mount the image and assemble onto a card to finish.

In all it’s a very easy technique but visually stunning!

It looks like a proper watercolour painting without being artistic!

That’s how it’s SUPPOSED to be done… on for details on how I did it.

Brushless Watercolour Techniques:

Shimmering Waters Watercolour Technique

This variation of the brushless watercolour technique has a real shimmer and shine to it! You can’t tell from the scans – which is a real shame! But the watercolour prints on all the artwork featured on this page actually has a metallic and pearlised sheen!

The effect reminds me a lot of like the effect you get when you see the sun shimmering on the water on a sunny morning which is why I decided to call it Shimmering Waters This effect is achieved very simply!

Instead of spraying the inked stamp with plain water spritz spray – I made up a bottle of pearl ex spray and used that instead! This gave the stamped images a wonderful shimmering sheen which enhanced the overall effect of this technique.

You can of course use the specially adapted Moonglow Sprays if you wanted to but it’s so much more fun not to mention cheaper to make your own!

Don’t forget if you don’t have any Pearl Ex you can substitute with any powdered mica pigments such as fairie dust, moon glow, perfect pearls etc…

Read on for details on how to make your own spray….

Creating A Pearl Ex Spritz Bottle:

What You Need

  • Small Empty Soda Pop Bottle
  • Luke Warm Water
  • Powdered Gum Arabic
  • Pearl Ex in colour of your choice – I used Gold, Interference Violet and Russet to create 3 different spray bottles of colours.
  • Empty Fine Spritz Spray Bottle – I recycle mine from body sprays, room fragrant and hair conditioning bottles

How To Create

1. Take your empty soda pop bottle, and tap in aprox 1 teaspoon of powdered gum arabic.

2. Next pour warm water in the bottle until it is approx 1 third full.

3. Put the lid on the soda pop bottle, and give it a good shake for a few minutes. The more you shake the better the gum arabic dissolves in the water.

It’s important to have warm water; otherwise the powder will not mix properly.

It should be warm enough to touch with your bare hands without burning.

4. Look at the gum arabic and water mixture in your bottle, it should have a smooth texture, and the colour should be cloudy (it reminds me of pond water at this point).

If it isn’t very cloudy you may need to add another teaspoon of gum arabic and mix again. Please note the bigger your bottle the more gum arabic you will need to add

5. Once you have the consistency you need, pour more warm water into the bottle so that it is approx half full and shake again to mix.

The bottle of gum arabic mixture you have just created can be used to create several spritzer bottles. I made 4 powdered mica spritzer bottles from 1 soda pop bottle of liquid gum arabic which was approx half full.

6. Next tap 1 teaspoon of powdered pigment into the empty spray bottle.

7. Pour about 1 quarter of the already mixed gum arabic on top of the powdered pigment.

8. Put the lid on your spray bottle and shake it for a couple of minutes to allow the powdered pigment to mix properly with the liquid gum arabic.

9. Once mixed, add more of the liquid gum arabic mixture to the container so it is now approx half full in the spray bottle. Shake again to mix together.

10. Do a test on the back of your hand by spritzing the spray bottle to make sure everything has mixed together properly. If the colour is not vivid enough for you, you can add more mica powder at this point and shake again. I kept mixing more mica until I got the colour intensity I was after.

11. Finally pour warm water into the spray bottle to fill it up to the top and shake once more to mix.

Your pearl ex spray spritzer is ready to use!

Creating The Brushless Watercolour Effect

What You Need

  • Dye Inkpads – I used Adirondack inkpads in: Wild Plum, Bottle, Meadow, Red Pepper, Butterscotch, Eggplant & Currant (available from: Hearts In Touch )


  • Adirondack Pigment Pens – I used both the pens and the inkpads – see above for colours used (available from: Hearts In Touch )
  • Home Made Pearl Ex Spritz Bottle
  • Gloss and ordinary plain Matt White (or colour if preferred) card stock
  • Newspaper or plastic to protect your work surface
  • Heat tool (optional)

Rubber Stamps Used:

  • Real Flowers Range– Hero Arts
  • Other Real Flowers – Rubber Stampede
  • Enjoy The Moments That Make You Smile – Hero Arts
  • Spring Quote – Hero Arts
  • Friendship Quote – Stampendous
  • Every Flower Is A Soul – Impression Obsession
  • Vitality Life Force Quote – Personal Stamp Exchange
  • Flowers Say Hello From The Heart – Hero Arts

How To Create

  1. First of all protect your work surface with a layer of newspaper or plastic – this technique gets messy (all the fun techniques are messy!!)
  1. To add colour to the rubber stamps you need to use the actual corner of the felt inkpad to apply the colour to the rubber dye – apply one colour for the stems (green) and another colour for the petals – I find it best to start with a lighter colour and go darker – that way you don’t contaminate your light coloured inkpads.

You can use any brand of inkpad for this technique – but make sure the pads your using aren’t permanent like for example the Memories or Ancient Page otherwise you wont get a good Watercolour effect!

I recommend and used both the adirondak dye inkpads and pigment pens – I find that the pens are ideal for controlling the colour on the stamp; especially if you want to colour the middle of the stamp without spoiling your inkpads.

  1. Once you have added your colour to your rubber stamp; gently spray the due surface with your Pearl Ex Spritz – I find 1 to 2 sprays is sufficient – anymore and its too wet to stamp.
  1. Stamp your image onto card stock – I used ordinary white and cream copier card and found it worked perfectly! For a more stunning and bold effect I used white gloss card too. I found that the matt card created a more soft watercolour wash, whereas the gloss created a bolder wash.

Compare the results from the examples on this page – the card on the left was created on MATT card as where the 2 cards directly below. The first 2 cards at the top of the page are both stamped onto gloss – notice the difference in the wash effects?

Both the matt and the gloss card stocks work perfectly so you don’t NEED to use watercolour paper. Allow to dry or heat set with a heat gun.

Your Simmering Brushless Watercolour stamped image is complete and now ready to assemble and layer onto a card!

Vintage Style Watercolour Technique

This is another variation of the brushless watercolour technique. This time instead of using an ordinary water spray or even a handmade pearl ex spray …I used a WALNUT INKS Spray! I tried it on the off chance just to see what it would look like – and as you can see the effects are stunning!!

To achieve the effects shown in the samples on this page I inked my stamps with dye inkpads as before (Adirondacks) and then sprayed 2 coats of diluted walnut ink crystals over the stamp….then I STAMPED onto either matt or gloss card!

Try it yourself and see!

The card on the left was inked with raisin adirondack inkpad; next I sprayed on walnut inks then stamped the image. I repeat stamped the image several times on the pink gloss to achieve different hues of the
walnut ink wash. Once dry I tore around the top of the stamped images and highlighted them with a gold Krylon leafing pen.

I layered this onto a sheet of walnut ink sprayed background
and added gold ribbon affixed with brads to the card to embellish.

Finally I added the quote stamp (by Personal Stamp Exchange)

The card below was inked with pesto adirondak inkpads and
sprayed over with walnut inks and stamped onto pink glossy
card. I edged the entire card with a gold Krylon pen. Next I
stamped the quote stamp onto vellum – tore around the edges
and folded over the top of the card to create a little ‘corner
pocket’  to embellish the card.

The card below was stamped with Tea Dye Distress Inks (available from Hearts In Touch) – the ink from this inkpad is so subtle that you can hardly see it through the walnut inks – I liked the effect of this as it created such a subtle effect that the image is almost ‘ghost like’

For the card on the below I stamped 2 separate panels using the brushless watercolour technique. On the left is the Shimmering version of the technique using pearl ex spritz, and on the right is the vintage style effect using walnut inks. I did this to create a two tone effect card. To finish the card I added corner borders and the friendship quote (edged with gold Krylon pen)

The leaves in the background prints of both of the cards below where stamped with Meadow Adirondack inkpads and I sprayed the walnut inks over the top to get the vintage wash effect.

This card was created using both the shimmering watercolour technique and the vintage watercolour technique. The panel on the left is the vintage technique – to achieve this I stamped the image with Tea Dye Distress Inkpad and then sprayed once with pearl ex spray, and then sprayed over the top of the pearl ex (on the stamp) with walnut ink to create a 2 tone shimmering walnut ink card!

Rainbow Pearls Watercolour Technique

This is my final and easiest experiment with the technique – this time I used rainbow inkpads! My favourite inkpads are the Big N Juicy and the Adirondack Rainbow pads (all of which are available from Heart In Touch )

To achieve the results shown in the cards on this page I inked my images on either gloss or matt card using rainbow dye inkpads – then I sprayed the rubber die with the different colour pearl ex sprays and experimented with different colours to achieve different effects and washes; stamped, heat set, then sprayed over the surface of the card with pearl ex again to achieve a more softer wash…I found this technique worked best on gloss card but the matt also worked too – just different effects!

Try it yourself – experiment and see!

Gallery Of Brushless Watercolour Cards