Class in Session by Ranger: The Evolution of the Distress Palette

Class in Session by Ranger: The Evolution of the Distress Palette


Distress Class in Session

It's hard to believe that it's been 16 years since the original set of Tim Holtz Distress Inks made their debut and forever changed the crafting world. In February 2004 at the HIA Tradeshow (the show we now refer to as Creativation), Tim Holtz introduced his very first set of the dye ink pads. The release consisted of five various shades of brown and a black. 

Designed to create an aged look on paper, fibers and photos these translucent dye inks would become a craft phenomenon and eventually grow from those original six colors into a palette of sixty-one including Picket Fence.

Distress Ink Pads

Did you know?

  • The original set of Distress Inks won two innovations awards for Most Innovation Products of the entire show & Most Innovation Product in the Scrapbooking / Stationery category 
  • Distress Inks are most known for their unique water-reactive properties and ability to blend with each other. They create beautifully blended or grunge inspired backgrounds but you can also stamp, emboss and watercolor with them
  • Made in the USA! All of the Distress Inks are formulated, filled and manufactured at the Ranger facility in Tinton Falls, NJ

Distress Ink

The Original Twelve
The original set of Distress Inks included Antique Linen, Old Paper, Tea Dye, Vintage Photo, Walnut Stain and Black Soot. After the successful initial release, Tim introduced the next six colors during the 2004 Summer Show. The colors included Tattered Rose, Fired Brick, Mustard Seed, Peeled Paint, Weathered Wood and Milled Lavender.   

Distress Inks

The Distress Palette Expands to Twenty Four!
In October 2005, the Distress palette doubled to twenty four colors! These colors included Faded Jeans, Broken China, Brushed Corduroy, Spiced Marmalade, Aged Mahogany, Worn Lipstck, Dusty Concord, Scattered Straw, Frayed Burlap, Dried Marigold, Pine Needles and Shabby Shutters. This twenty four color palette would remain the same and become a crafting staple over the next five years. 

Distress Ink

And then there were Thirty Six!
In the Summer of 2010, the Distress palette expanded by another twelve colors. The expansion of the color palette allowed crafter's to achieve a number of looks from vintage grunge to retro! The new additions were Spun Sugar, Barn Door, Wild Honey, Rusty Hinge, Bundled Sage, Crushed Olive, Forest Moss, Tumbled Glass, Stormy Sky, Chipped Sapphire, Victorian Velvet and Pumice Stone.

Distress Seasonal

Distress Ink Goes Seasonal
During the second half of 2011 and into 2012, Ranger and Tim Holtz released twelve new colors of Distress Ink. These "limited edition" sets were released quarterly as a seasonal set consisting of three coordinating Distress colors.  No one could have anticipated just how popular these colors would become. Due to the overwhelming response to the seasonal colors Ranger and Tim Holtz decided to add them permanently to the line in October 2012.  You can even check out Tim's original blog post here! These new inks added bright pops of color to the palette with colors like Picked Raspberry, Squeezed Lemonade, Salty Ocean, Peacock Feathers, and Mowed Lawn.  Other colors included Ripe Persimmon, Gathered Twigs, Seedless Preserves, Iced Spruce, Festive Berries, Evergreen Bough and Shaded Lilac.

Distress Color of the Month Poster

A Year of Distress 
In January 2015, at the CHA Show it was announced that a new color of Distress would be released monthly for the entire year adding another twelve colors to the Distress palette. With the slogan "There's a New Kid in Town", Cracked Pistachio was revealed as the first color. Loyal fans would have to wait for the first Friday of each month to find out the next color. Each month, Tim would also share new and exciting blends combining the new color which the existing palette. The color would not only be released as a Distress Ink Pad and Reinker but also in the other Distress product categories available at the time- Stains, Spray Stain, Paint and Markers. The new Distress additions were Cracked Pistachio, Abandoned Coral, Mermaid Lagoon, Fossilized Amber, Twisted Citron, Hickory Smoke, Blueprint Sketch, Ground Espresso, Wilted Violet, Carved Pumpkin, Lucky Clover and "The Fairest of them All", Candied Apple. Distress Color of the Month was a huge success and a very exciting year in the world of Distress! 

 In this video, flashback to 2015 with the reveal of Lucky Clover. 

Tim Holtz

An Interview with Tim Holtz
We recently reached out to Ranger Signature Designer and Distress Creator, Tim Holtz and asked him some questions about the Distress Palette. Here's what he had to say!

What was the inspiration behind the Distress palette?
t: My initial inspiration for Distress was to be able to create authentic looking grunge by using inks so brown, brown, brown was my palette. Over time the palette of colors increased and were inspired by the worn hues of found objects, worn finishes, and faded elements.

What is your favorite Distress color(s)?
t: It’s a question I’m asked all the time and truth be told my favorite changes daily.
What is your most used color?
t: My most used color would be walnut stain because it’s my go-to for edges and darker grunge.
If there was an award for “Most Popular Distress Color" what color would win?
t: My guess would be Vintage Photo.
Most underrated Distress color?
t: I believe it’s Old Paper as most people are surprised with it’s greenish hues, but it dirties any other colors perfectly without brown.
What’s your favorite Distress blend?
t: Old Paper, Frayed Burlap, Weathered Wood, and Walnut Stain.
If there was a color you could rename what would it be?
t: Honestly, I have no regrets.
Favorite Distress color name that never was?
t: I'll leave that a secret for now…you never know.



The World of Distress
Over the years the Distress line of products has expanded past the original dye ink pads and into Sprays, Markers, Crayons, Paint, Oxides and the latest medium- Embossing Glaze.  The Distress brand has truly become a crafting staple and we look forward to see where the journey continues with Ranger & Tim Holtz!

 More Distress to Love

More Distress to Love...
It's been five years since the last Distress color, Candied Apple, was announced...until now! Tim Holtz and Ranger are will be welcoming a new color into the Distress color family on Wednesday May 20th at 1pm ET.  The new color will be available in various Distress mediums such as Distress Ink, Spray Stain, Paint, Oxide, Oxide Spray,  Embossing Glaze and a collectible Enamel Pin. The release of the new Distress color will mark the start for the introduction of new Distress colors to be released throughout 2020 and 2021.  So what color is next? You'll have to stay tuned... 

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