The Beauty of Alcohol Inks
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Alcohol Inking Basics

Alcohol inks are designed for use on nonporous surfaces. Glossy paper, glass, metal, acrylic and plastic are all surfaces that take these inks beautifully. The beauty of alcohol inks is not just the colors and color combinations, but also the variety of items and surfaces on which they may be applied.

Consider trying alcohol ink on:

  • Glossy cardstock
  • Rhinestones
  • Buttons
  • Staples
  • Brads
  • Eyelets
  • Washers, nuts and bolts
  • Metal charms and jewelry
  • Dominoes
  • Paper clips
  • Plastic slide mounts
  • Acetate sheets
  • Acrylic sheets
  • Acrylic die cuts
  • Glass slides
  • Sea glass
  • Glass marbles
  • Mirror shapes
  • Metal duct tape
  • Tin foil
  • Metal containers

Other tools and products that are typically used with these inks are a felt applicator tool or  markers, metallic mixatives, blending solution, non-stick craft sheet and your chosen surface.

The applicator tool by Ranger has a comfortable handle and comes packaged with precut felt pieces that attach to the hook-and-loop piece on the wood mount. Alternatively, if you do not have this tool, attach the hook portion of a piece of hook-and-loop tape to a wooden block.

When you say “alcohol inks,” typically the names Tim Holtz®, Adirondack® and Ranger come to mind. There is, however, a wider variety of alcohol-based inks on the market, including alcohol ink refills for the Copic® markers. (Techniques shown and discussed here are based on the Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol inks.)

Metallic mixatives may also be used with alcohol inks or on their own. The Ranger product line has gold, silver, pearl and copper mixatives. They are packaged in the same style of bottle as the alcohol inks; however, their consistency is somewhat different. The metallic mixatives are a thick metallic medium. Prior to use, shake the bottle well. Don’t be alarmed, you will hear a clicking sound—that is the mixing ball that stirs the medium inside the bottle.

Alcohol Inks Techniques

Every recipe has its special ingredient, and the same is true in card crafting. Blending solution is that special ingredient here. It is a clear liquid that will do three things—lighten color, remove color and blend or diffuse color.

Pounce Method Photo1-PounceMethod1

  1. Apply drops of ink directly onto felt.
  2. Apply drops of blending solution to felt.
  3. Pounce applicator onto surface.
  4. Option: Add metallic mixative, blending fluid and then pounce again.

Note: The method I have seen Tim Holtz use is to apply inks, pounce, and then apply blending solution and pounce again. I like to apply the blending solution with my first drops of ink on the felt as this diffuses the inks while covering the surface. Different effects will be achieved using different methods so don’t be afraid to experiment. Photo2-PounceMethod2

Drip-Drop Method

  1. Apply blending solution to glossy cardstock/surface.
  2. Drop desired colors onto surface. Place drops inside others.
  3. Tilt paper or blow on inks to move colors.

Note: One of the newest methods is to use compressed air (the type used to clean computers) to move your alcohol inks on your paper.

  1. Another option is to pounce with applicator tool to distribute color and dab up any excess.


Smoosh Method

  1. Squeeze drops of alcohol inks and blending solution onto craft mat or transparency sheet.
  2. Add metallic mixative, if desired.
  3. Place glossy cardstock facedown onto color.
  4. Gently pat back of piece with fingers to distribute color.
  5. Twist cardstock and lift.
  6. Continue until desired coverage is achieved. Photo4-SmooshMethod


Over Stamping Onto Alcohol Ink Background

  1. Create background following one of the methods previously mentioned.
  2. Let dry for 5–7 seconds.
  3. Stamp desired image over top. Note: Be sure to use an ink such as Archival™ ink so that it does not react with your background. Even though we have just barely inked the surface (excuse the pun) of possible ways to use alcohol inks, these techniques should keep you going for a little while. May all your creative adventures be colorful! Photo5-OverStamping

Note: These inks should be used in a well-ventilated area following manufacturer’s instructions.

Sources: Inkssentials white Gloss Paper, non-stick craft sheet, alcohol inks, metallic mixatives, alcohol blending solution, alcohol ink applicator and archival ink from Ranger Industries Inc.; cloisonné circle stamp from Michael Strong Rubber Stamps; Lacey Circles (#S4-293) and Standard Circles SM (#S4-116) die templates from Spellbinders™ Paper Arts; die-cutting machine from Sizzix.

By: Sharon M. Reinhart

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