Sharing how I’m using Distress Crayon in a Bullet Journal today, as well as 2 easy projects. Distress Crayons are by Tim Holtz and Ranger Ink. I have had these crayons for years now and could never figure out what to do with them so I hope this post, and this video, helps you (if you have them stashed somewhere too). In this blog post, I talk about the basics of the product, and share some ideas on how to use them. In my video, I show how I use them in my bullet journal. So let’s get into it.
Tim Holtz Distress Crayons
These crayons have been around for a while. So feel free to skip this part. But for more information, Distress Crayons are water-based pigment sticks. The colour range is fantastic and matches that of the Distress Inks, Oxides, and Watercolour Pencils. This is what initially drew me to these crayons. The colours are super vibrant and very creamy – especially when they are newer. They do harden a little over time but they are still usable. You can only buy them in sets now and they are about $12.99 on Scrapbook.com.
On their website, they say you can use these products in a variety of different ways, including mixed media, watercolour, blended backgrounds, smudging effects and more. I’ve tried to use these directly on paper with poor results and so they went into the back of my cupboard. I really do think there is a learning curve with these and A LOT of experimentation is needed. I want to use these (since I have them), so I went searching how to use them and thought I would share my favourite way of using them with you. But first, I wanted to share my personal pros and cons of these.
- They are very pigmented
- The colour range is the same as the rest of the Distress line making it great for using together
- They do go on sale so you can build your collection over time
- Big colour range
- Fun and childlike packaging which encourages playfulness and experimentation
- Can no longer buy them separately, only as sets
- Huge learning curve and A LOT of experimentation to learn how to use them
- Flecks of pigment can create unwanted marks
- If using on a dry page, more and more pigment is needed to reactivate the bottom colour meaning you’re using a ton of product for a small effect/space (particularly for creative bullet journaling)
- You need a lot of additional products to make this product work
Distress Crayons in a Bullet Journal
My biggest motivation to make these work is because I have them, but a close second, is wanting to use them in my journals – bullet journal and art journal. I have an art journal video coming soon, so this post focuses on using them in a bullet journal.
As you know, the thickness of your journal page can be a very limiting factor in how you use products. I use 160GSM notebooks to give me the freedom to explore. With that said, these crayons did not do much in my journal. They dried far too quickly so smudging wasn’t an option (unless a fleck of pigment got loose on your page and smudged everything!), and sealing a page in your journal isn’t practical (I’m going to try one day but not an everyday thing).
The best way I found to use these in a journal was as watercolour paints. Tim Holtz mentioned using a watercolour paint palette and the Distress Crayons and it sealed the deal for me! I bought some palettes and I’m off! I prepped my palette’s with the crayons, and at the very least, they are super pretty to look at. I share 2 ways to use these so keep reading to see.
Directly in Your Notebook
Hahaha so this isn’t rocket science so of course this was going to be one way. There are pros and cons to using it this way.
- It’s quick to do and requires just a brush and your notebook
- The colours are vibrant enough to make it work with one brush through of paint
- You can’t add more water to lighten to create a wash
- You’re limited in how much pigment you can put down before damaging your page
- Flecks of pigment can transfer creating streaks in your painting
- Lighter colours can be a challenge to add more pigment
- Limited time and ability to blend colours
On Watercolour Paper First
The second way, and probably my favourite way, is to paint on watercolour paper first and then glue it into your notebook.
- You can use more water and get more pigment on the page
- Blending is easier and so fun
- The texture of the distress crayon medium changes based on the paper so it has such great texture on watercolour paper
- Can bulk up your journal
- Can create ridges in your journal making it hard to write on the next page
- You have to have additional supplies, like watercolour paper
Final Thoughts on Distress Crayons in a Bullet Journal
Will I use these again in my bullet journal? Absolutely, yes! They are VERY appealing in the palettes so I want to use them more and I love the effect when they dry. I am also working on an art journal page using these crayons which I’m sharing soon, so yes. I am finally getting some use out of them. The biggest issue I have is that I have NEVER worked THIS HARD to make a product work for me before. Lol! It has been a drag for sure and trying the different techniques in the videos I watched, just wasn’t working for me. I do really love the Distress line which is why I’ve worked this hard. My biggest personality flaw is watching a video and thinking, I can do that. This is exactly how I ended up with these in the first place.
I will say it speaks volumes that it’s been so many years and I am still trying to make them work – still trying to make fetch happen! I’m hoping these crayons and I are starting to find our middle ground here. They’re not my favourite product, but I am liking them more now than before. Stay posted as I plan on using these guys more, so if you have them stashed somewhere, bring them out and let’s experiment together. Tag me over on Instagram or comment down below if you’re giving these another try!