Sunday, May 5, 2019

Let's Make Some Alcohol Ink Art!

John and I've been out in the sun the past few days painting a house: a truly epic battle against bugs and weeds and our own crippling desire to be back inside in the A/C. [insert laugh-sobbing here]

I'm bone-tired and sore and in no condition for clever wordsmithing (pthhhhhbt), so instead I thought I'd show you some fun pics from our craft night last week:

Rainbow smoke dragon!!

This is my first ever collaboration (heh) with an artist: I did the rainbow bit with alcohol inks, then my friend Bianca drew the dragon.

There were a total of 6 of us messing around with inks last Wednesday, and it was fun to see how differently everyone approached it.

 ::when you're trying to sneak a photo and SOMEONE notices::

There's no right or wrong with alcohol ink art, of course, which is why it's great for groups.

Now, I'm still a newbie at this, but I do have one AMAZING tip from my friend Arielle to pass along:

The back side of certain premium photo papers works just like Yupo! THIS IS HUGE, Y'ALL. (Yupo is a waterproof paper many ink artists use, but it costs about $1 per sheet. Yeah. Yowch.)

Arielle uses the Staples brand high-gloss photo paper, so that works, and then we found this Canon Luster paper we already had works, too! WOOT WOOT!

(I got this 50 pack for less than $18 on Amazon. SCORE. )

I used the pricey waterproof paper the first time I tried alcohol inks, then this cheap photo paper last week. I honestly didn't notice a difference between the two.
 Again, you use the back side of the photo paper for alcohol inks. Feel free to try other brands, too, just watch out for watermarks on the back.

 Other stuff you'll need:

- alcohol inks - I found a big Pinata variety pack, but any brand will do

- a board under your paper to protect your table 
(Alcohol can eat through your table's clear coat. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. ::facepalm::)

- alcohol in a small spritzer bottle (like John's using up there)

- alcohol in a small shot glass with an eye dropper

- straws (to blow the ink around)

- a hair dryer (to blow it around harder)

- paper towels (for dabbing and for spills)

- small artist brushes

Our friend Arielle works with alcohol inks professionally (follow her on IG for so many pretties!) and she did a lot of brush work with her paintings:

 I'm apparently terrible at sneaking photos, ha. But look at her pretty Henna!

John likes to use a lot of alcohol and the hair dryer to get big swaths of color:



Our friend Karen uses smaller layered drips that she blows around with a straw:

 I especially like this one of Karen's; it reminds me of a dark nebula:

So cool.

I found it hilarious that Bianca - the professional painter - almost immediately began using the inks as paint, and quickly whipped up the most gorgeous mermaid over her ocean ink scape:


(Due to popular demand Bianca is selling this print now - along with the hot pink "mercorn" she made next!)

 Listen, I love - LOVE - having talented friends. It's just also really annoying sometimes. :p

Then Bianca's hubby Tim - also a professional artist - took a picture of his inks and drew over them digitally on his iPad, which is a really cool idea:

 He was kind of bummed that his colors ran together. "It looks like clown vomit!" Then he took that idea and ran with it:

 (via Tim's IG here


As for me, I like the smaller drips & straw approach:

I also seem to gravitate towards rainbow Rorschachs:
 What do you see?

The green poppy started as a mistake: my colors accidentally ran into a muddy mess. To fix it, I dripped a little more alcohol, then sopped up as much of the offending ink as I could with a paper towel. After that I added a strong color - dark green - on top to cover the blotch. The edges are still black, but it kind of works, right?

I don't think I shared these here on the blog before, so here are my first alcohol ink pieces from a few months ago. (These were on Yupo paper, too, so you can compare with my photo paper ones above.)

 The consensus on IG was that this is either a parrot or a seahorse. :D

This last one is my favorite, since it ended up looking like two flowers. Plus the metallic gold is SO SHINY:

It's almost impossible to capture that metallic gleam with a photo, but it's really lovely in person.

 I actually scanned that one in to help boost the shadows and colors:

Oooh. I forgot how pretty that turned out. I need to go scan the other ones now!

I'm still brainstorming things to layer on top of my inky creations: maybe a word cut from metallic vinyl on my Cricut? Or a silhouette?

You could also cut up your alcohol ink art and cover it with resin for jewelry. Or be like me and scan them to edit and crop the sections you like. I might try printing some close-ups for greeting cards, like this shot John took with his phone:

 That's straight off his phone, no editing! It's part of my seahorse Rorschach... thought I couldn't tell you which part.  ::continues to squint helplessly::

So what else, peeps? Any ideas or tips? I'm looking for excuses to make more ink art, so... spill.


And if you're looking for more crafty ideas, check out my tutorial page! I've got over 150 different project previews there, all on one page for easy browsing.


  1. Now I know what to do with all the inkjet photo paper I don't have a printer for anymore.

  2. I have no painting experience, but I can see myself just making lots of rainbows with this stuff! Love everything you shared!

  3. I've been wanting to try alcohol inks on copper to make jewelry.

  4. I haven't bought any actual inks. BUT... I DID discover that sharpie pens also work well, especially if you want a little more definition. Color in swatches or define spaces, then dabble on alcohol with a dropper or spray (varying distance from the ink for different effects). I have read that the actual inks contain a bit of mineral oil, so that will be my next dollar store purchase/experiment. I've been working mostly with white tiles from the big box hardware store (about 22cents each) and have found out that when your creation is how you really like it... move it away from your workspace. Overspray alcohol can also redesign your creation. Ask me how I know. :-) Finishing the tiles with a coat of resin seals things nicely. Working with resin and the inks for jewelry is another experiment on my list. I would also love to create a "stained glass" window effect for my bedroom windows. Alcohol inks are addictive. Thanks for the tip about photo paper. Happy creating!

  5. So beautiful! I think I want to try this myself sometime :D. Also, does anyone else see a Disney like puppy in Jen's first one? The head being in the top right corner? It was the first thing I saw <3

  6. So Pretty! I love the saturated colors. I would suggest trying canned air or if you really want to get crazy, a children's spin art toy. We taped down dominoes (blank side up) and made mini spin art pendants with the alcohol ink and a final layer of resin.

  7. Q1: would you mind linking up the supplies so that they *definitely* go through as sponsored Amazon affiliate thingies? (when I click through your affiliate link, the extra URL clutter stays for the first Amazon page, but then disappears past there, which makes me nervous that they might be sneaking out of giving you the money, but I don't know...)
    Q2: What do you do, in different mediums, with:
    1. successes
    2. middlings
    3. failures?
    I don't like throwing things direct-from-creation into the trash, but creating stuff generates stuff, and there is not infinite space, and... halp? Is there a psychological trick to get, for at least some items, to "I had fun and now the results head to a landfill and that's okay"? (both environmental guilt [honestly, crafty output would be a tiny drop in the bucket of my personal "waste" amount] and "it's a precious creaaaation" guilt) Any ideas for good not-throwing-it-away ways of getting rid of home-crafted "hey, this is actually pretty good... but I don't want to continue to own it" items if you don't have a popular blog you can do giveaways from?

    1. Join us over on the Fans of Robot Facebook group. If you're willing to pay for mailing, you can give it away to someone in the group who will appreciate it. If you need payment, there's a spin off group for that too!

    2. Fans of Epbot, doh! Stupid autocucumber...

    3. I'm a Facebook Conscientious Objector, unfortunately. (I would loooove to be in [and watch all the fun in] Fans of Epbot. Sigh.) Thank you for the idea, though!

  8. I love how Chef is overseeing your creative endeavors...

  9. Wow, these art pieces you created are just beautiful. I love the colors and how different everyone's look. I've long been interested in giving alcohol inks a try (Have you seen Jennifer McGuire's videos about alcohol ink techniques? She is a lovely crafter and cardmaker; her videos are detailed and very clear!) . Your Two Flowers look like gorgeously vibrant peonies, and your craft-with-friends parties make me long to hold my own! They are on the list for summer festivities! :)

  10. Y'all - SHRINK PLASTIC is perfect for this, too! I've been making earrings with shrink plastic and alcohol inks and they're pretty rad.

  11. I love alcohol inks but they are very very very not light-fast. And most UV varnishes reactivate the ink. A lot of alcohol ink artists use Kamar Varnish since it doesn't make the ink run, and then us a UV/archival varnish, but when I use spray varnish it always comes out gritty and ruins my art. D:

  12. I have not (yet) dived into alcohol inks because .... I started on acrylic paint pouring first. You and John should try that. I have so.much.FUN with it. I can't afford both hobbies, so for now I'll stick with my acrylics.
    Maureen S


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