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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alcohol Ink Tips and Information

Please know that most of this is purely my opinion & I received no compensation, from anyone, for this article.  Also, if you find the information useful, or not, please leave me a comment so I can upgrade the page!!!
*Last update 02/02/14 

ALCOHOL INK TIPS AND INFORMATION


I am not comparing or writing about alcohol ink markers (like Copic, ProMarker, Spectrum, etc.) this post is in reference to the actual alcohol ink.  Personally, I can’t see how/why the different brands of markers could really be that unique, but that’s just my opinion.  If you are interested in alcohol markers, there is a comparison chart here: PaperCrafter's Corner.



You can do an internet search and find millions of ways to use alcohol inks as well as lots of useful tips that accomplished artists’ have put together.  My goal here is to hopefully pass along some practical tips – the things I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.  My main concern is helping you not ruin your home or studio and finding alcohol inks that are cheap.  I am by no means an alcohol ink expert, but I do love to play with them & nothing makes me more ornery than wasting expensive stuff.



Protect your workspace heavily.  Whether you use multiple non-stick mats, silicone mats or my fav cardboard covered with wax paper (my genius invention – I’ve been doing the cardboard & wax paper thang way before the non-stick craft mats were introduced & I always have about 3 of them going so I can put stuff to paint, or to dry on one and be able to grab another. Use rigid cardboard, I usually use the cardboard that comes in packaging or something like a cereal box with both sides) make sure you have a lot of it.  Especially if you’re crafting area is the dining room table or other public space in your home.  Alcohol ink & finish (any kind of finish) don’t get along well at all – trust me on this.  So over protect.  Protect like you have a group of 20 two-year-olds coming to play alcohol ink finger paint on your antique mahogany heirloom table.  Because even though alcohol ink bottles have little spouts they can leak if they are accidentally knocked over. 



ALWAYS wear some sort of gloves that are waterproof.  It doesn’t matter if you think you are just going to dab a wee bit of alcohol ink on a tiny piece of paper; if you are not wearing gloves you will stain your hands, your cuticles, your fingernails (which may or may not be an issue) and waaay underneath your fingernails where nothing can reach, and I mean nothing.  And while the various kinds of blending & clean up solutions do work (I have to be honest, I never sat there and dipped my nails in solution – “Blending solution”? “You’re soaking in it!” “ACKKK!”) They will not work well enough to make your hands look presentable for that wedding, business meeting or other event where you have to look good and not like you dipped your hands in a vat of bright pink paint.  And alcohol ink takes forever to wear off skin, besides the fact it can’t be that good for you.



DON’T remove your gloves until you are sure you are finished with the alcohol ink, capped and stored the bottles (including the blending solution), any doo hicky you used to play with the ink (cotton squares, tools, etc) and have set aside whatever you were using the ink for.  If you are anything like me when you are working, you are usually in an artistic frenzy; you are grabbing inks, tools, paper, all sorts of stuff that you suddenly need for this project.  And perhaps you aren’t as diligent with capping things as you normally would be* (plus some alcohol inks tend to drip down the sides of the container in that little seam where you can’t see it).  My blending solution, mixatives, Krylon metal leaf pens and ink bottles are covered with the fore mentioned & that makes it SO easy to transfer ink to your skin when you think it’s dry – remember, the blending solution “wakes” the ink up, so that purple ink that is dry on your blue ink bottle may, in fact, just be waiting, quietly, for your index finger that got a teeny bit of solution on to touch it, then BAM you woke it up.

*which also reminds me to tell you to NEVER shake your Ranger Mixables without putting the cap on – I know, seems like a no brainer, but when I am in the middle of a crafting frenzy I often forget the most basic things (like eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, etc.) and I made the HUGE mistake of grabbing my bottle of silver Mixatives and gave it a good shake and promptly ended up with pretty little silver blobs all over the place – ALL OVER the place – I am still finding things that have been blobbed & I did this quite a while ago.



Always have plenty of items to ink.  I have started to keep at least 3 full sheets of glossy card stock next to where I am working because alcohol ink goes a very, very long way.  Two drops can make backgrounds for several cards, tags, ink some metal, plastic, transparencies (remember those from school?), clay, etc.  Instead of hunting for stuff to ink while you are in the middle of your project do yourself a favor and have the stuff right there.  Not only are you being frugal (and what crafter doesn’t like to be frugal?) but you are creating what could be the start of your best piece yet.  And there is SO much you can ink with alcohol ink – the list goes on and on!  Personally, I haven’t played with it on photo paper but I have heard good results from those who have so there is another option since glossy card stock can be pricey and most of us have some photo paper around somewhere that came with our printers.



If you use the Inkssentials blending handle and pads DON’T get blending solution on the black handle part – it makes the handle amazingly sticky and I had a hell of a time getting the handle off my glove, I can only imagine trying to get it and the resulting tar-like mark (‘cause I have NO idea what coats that handle but it looks and feels like tar) off your skin. I learned this after I doused the tool in blending solution trying to clean it off a bit.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  I made my own applicators quite a while ago and just used regular craft felt, but I do confess, I like Tim’s tool the best.



The Basic Alcohol Ink Primer 
(or, why the HELL are these things so expensive?)

There are many different brands of alcohol ink – remember, alcohol ink pens need refills and those refills can be considerably cheaper than alcohol inks marketed specifically as an art tool.  Reminds me of wooden sticks, yanno the kind that ice cream comes on – well, you can pay $10 for 50 at a art store, $5 for 50 at a craft store or $3 for 1000 at a medical supply store (please don’t take my example seriously – I truly don’t know if you can get 1000 tongue depressors for $3).

A candle holder I made years ago using alcohol ink on the glass part & decorated with beads.  I used to be concerned about having flame near the alcohol ink until I read on Susan Brown's blog that the alcohol evaporates and therefore there is no risk of fire once the ink is thoughly dry.

I have several different brands of alcohol inks that I play with and I have had them for years, again, because alcohol ink goes a loooog way.  By far, the most popular alcohol inks are the ones by Ranger.  Some other brands are:

  • Letraset TRIA (TRIA markers were the first set of alcohol markers I ever had – and I still have them).  I have some refill inks in 40ml bottles, but when I wrote to the company to ask where I could get more, they informed me that the USA Letraset was recently sold and both the markers and the refills are no longer available in the US.  If you want them you need to order direct from Letraset (which stinks because all of the alcohol inks on their site are marked that they can’t ship them out of the UK – so even though they offer free shipping to the US after you order $33 worth of product you still can’t get the alcohol inks BUT you can buy the other alcohol ink markers.  I don’t understand why it is OK to buy the markers but not the ink; I’ll just add this to my list of sh stuff that doesn’t make sense). However, Letraset makes a bunch of other alcohol ink markers, a fairly inexpensive one is called ProMarkers (I saw them for less than $2 each) that, from what I read, are equal to Copic & other markers.  If you want to check out the Letraset markers and inks, click on LetrasetProMarkers has a separate site, click on ProMarkers (which has some good info on using alcohol ink markers).

  • Jacquard Products puts out Piñata Color Alcohol Inks; I got the Exciter pack which has 8 colors and 1 bottle of clean up solution.  You can get these packs for about $20 which isn’t bad. I also found the individual bottles for about $8 each, which is bad, in my opinion.

  • ShinHan is a brand I had never heard of until I was researching alcohol inks.  This company makes markers called Touch Twin (I have seen the name spelled like this ShinHan and like Shin Han). They do sell refills for their markers and they come in 20ml bottles.  The refill ink retails for about $5 a bottle and it seems that these are readily available in art supply stores as opposed to craft stores which may effect the price. One cool thing is they say they have 204 colors.

  • Spectrum Noir offers little bottles with droppers as refill inks, their bottles are 30 ml (priced about $5.95 for a SET of refills to match the set of markers you want to refill) – these may be the best bet price wise.

Comparing Pinata, Tria and Ranger
alcohol inks by container size.
  • Zig Kurecolor Marker refills come in 118 colors, in a 25cc bottle – you can buy sets of refill color, I even saw them on HSN’s website! (priced about $4.75 a bottle)

  • Various Ink COPIC & Ciao refills are available also.  When I looked them up I found them on Joann.com where the price ranged from $8.99 to $5.99.  They refill all types of COPIC markers, anywhere from 7 to 15 times, depending on which marker you have. I couldn't find an actual amount of ink in the refills, but the bottles look fairly large.
Just to compare, Rangers Alcohol inks all come in 1.5 ml bottles – and since most of the other brands come in larger bottles and, of course, the larger the bottle the more ink you get, it is obviously cheaper to go with a bigger bottle.



There are TONS and TONS of tutorials on You Tube on how to make your own alcohol ink with everything from food coloring, liquid fabric RIT dye and Sharpie markers.  I am definitely going to try the Sharpie tutorial after I buy a pack, and I even liked the food coloring one, but, there was some concern about bugs (but unless you add sugar, or some sort of food for the bugs I would think this wouldn’t be an issue, especially since you are basically mixing the food coloring with rubbing alcohol & I don’t know of any bugs that like rubbing alcohol) BUT with my luck a mutant bug will live in my house and just loooove rubbing alcohol.



If you do get alcohol ink on your nonstick mat, regular old rubbing alcohol (with at least 70% ethyl alcohol) will get the ink off your mat.  I know, I used it.  I also saw a tutorial where they used the same rubbing alcohol as blending solution.  I did throw some on one of the alcohol ink background papers I made today and it did move the ink – I didn’t try it directly on my applicator. However, the ink didn't move as freely or as nicely as it does using the Ranger Alcohol Ink Blending Solution.



Do you have any alcohol ink wisdom you would like to share?  You can either use the contact me form (on the right hand side of this blog) or just leave a comment.  Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something, and if you didn’t, I hope you had fun.

I also wanted to share just a few things I have done using alcohol inks.  Hopefully this will inspire you to pull out those neglected alcohol inks and have a blast! 
Here are some backgrounds - made on glossy paper - that I made.
This is a Christmas Ornament I made for Christmas in July.  You can see the tutorial HERE

Here are some applicators for the alcohol ink.  The small square and the one on the left side are home made & I use regular craft felt.

Thanks for reading my alcohol ink info article - try saying THAT 5 times fast - if there is anything you'd like to add, that you think would be helpful, or would like me to add PLEASE let me know! You can leave a comment or use the contact me form over there --------------------> 

I still play with my alcohol inks and I love them to bitsEvery time I am stumped on how to color something they come through for me ~ Bright Blessings to you & yours ~ Christi

PS: There are other projects on my blog that use alcohol inks - just do a search and you will find them ~ hope you enjoy!




33 comments:

  1. Wow, you are a wealth of information on this! I grabbed some at a garage sale a few years ago and still have not opened the package, lol. I just may have to give it a try now! Love all the beautiful things you made with your inks. ~Diane

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  2. Thanks for all the info, I now feel armed to go and have another play. Alcohol inks are a rarely used item in my stash. I love your candle holder, the colours are amazing!
    Btw....Thanks so much for hopping by my blog during the Paper Haus Fall Splendour celebration, and leaving me some love. It's much appreciated :-)

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  3. What a fantastic post. So much information. I have bookmarked this as it is definitely a keeper. Thanks for putting this together!

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    1. I am floored that an artist I admire so much has visited me AND left me a comment! I feel sorta star struck! Thank you SO much Seth - I can't tell you how much your comment means to me :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments Chantal :)

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  5. I love using alcohol inks!! Thanks for sharing your wealth of information here!! ~ Blessings, Tracey

    Garden of Grace

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    1. Thank you Tracey for your sweet comments :) They are much appreciated!

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  6. What a great primer on AIs! Thanks for sharing all the deets.

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  7. i love these and use them fairly often...and am feeling lie I need to get out some polymer & play with the 2 of them together... not another day off until tuesday, at least the morning... I do like being employed but it cuts into my art time, LOL. I was asked about photo paper... you do not have as large a time window (which is small to begin with) with that as you do with glossy cardstock but there seems to be no other difference, at least to me. thaks for the post!

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  8. This was so informative!
    Thank you. Lol
    On the mutant alcoholic bug that might be living in your home... Too funny!

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  9. Very informative! At Jerry's Artarama online I found Jacquard Pinata Alcohol ink colors for about $8.00 for
    4 ounce bottles. Love the rich colors that a little goes a long way and they also have Pinata Claro Extender to thin or extend the colors.

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  10. I am planning to try a clay project that calls for Pinata inks. I'd rather be able to buy just the colors I want instead of an entire pack. Are the Ranger inks just as good as the Pinata inks as far as color vibrancy?

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    1. In my opinion it isn't the brand you buy, it's the color - when I first wrote this post - ages ago on another site I had - I would have said yes, Pinata's are more vibrant because the colors that Ranger was offering were more "earthy" - however, since then Ranger has come out with a lot more colors - for me, price is ALWAYS an issue, so which ever way you choose to go make sure you check out how much they are charging for shipping :) Good luck and I'd love to see your project when it's done ~

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  11. Seriously. I *forgot* how these inks stained the fingers....and just did myself in AGAIN. Thanks for the reminder - I was searching for answers to remove the stuff from skin and found your blog. Maybe I'll get some dark blue polish. ; )

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    1. That would work Lela!! Or, wash and wash and use a scrubby sponge. I have also heard using the Ranger solution will get it off your skin, or plain rubbing alcohol - but I dunno if rubbing alcohol is good, either. Sorry you couldn't find exactly what you needed but thanks for popping by!! <3
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  12. Thank you for taking the time to share your research and info. Am in Australia and considering taking the exciting step into alcohol inks. All your words have given me ideas on how to compare different methods of execution. :)

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  13. Has anyone experienced problems getting the red alcohol inks to dry? Especially the Poppy Red. This is day two and my tiles are still tacky in the red areas. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    1. Hi! I am not sure what brand of ink you are using, but you can try using a heat gun to dry the inks - just keep it moving because the inks will burn (ask me how I know!). Since you used them on tiles, they should dry eventually. You could try coating them with a sealer, but I'd try the wet spot first to see if the ink runs (I doubt it would, but better safe than sorry!) Please let me know how your project turns out! Christi

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  14. Great post! Thank you. I've been doing glass candle holders myself with Ranger inks. I can't figure out how to seal/protect them since the spray varnish disturbs the ink. What do you use? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Erin! I don't use anything after I color them with the alcohol ink. But, I did a bit of research and what I found is you need to use a water based sealer - I think Mod Podge is water based - not positive tho. Ranger suggests their Multi Medium Gloss. I'd LOVE to see some of your work, do you have a blog? Happy Creating!! Christi

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  15. I bought lots an lots of bottles of alcohol inks (as everyone does!!) and have been 'afraid' to try them up until now. Just came across your blog and am really encouraged - thank you so much for all your tips :)

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    1. I'm glad this helped you get over your fear Marian! I'd love to see some of your work :)

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  16. Thank you so much for this fantastic post. I wonder if one could use waterbased inks or markers to also color isopropyl alcohol- I assume food coloring is waterbased, so if that works, colored inks might also work if properly diluted.

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  17. I'm new to AI and am having such fun with them. Just searched for a blog with tips and found yours. Perfect! Got new info and inspiration at the same time. I'm into all kinds of craft over at http://collectincatscreens.blogspot.com/ if you feel like visiting.

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  18. I saw one tutorial on you tube that used those old fahioned non sweetened kool-ade!?!?!?

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  19. I noticed your comment about the Pinata inks costing $8 for one bottle. I just purchased 10 of those and they were $9 for a 4 oz bottle. A very big saving over $3 for a 1/4 oz bottle. I think that was at Jerrys Artarama.

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  20. Really enjoyed your article on AI. It seems you had the same problem I now have with Letraset Tria Markers. I bought over 40 markers from a company in the UK and now find out that the refill inks cannot be shipped to Canada. Did you try refilling your Letraset markers with other AI brands and if you did, can you let me know which ones please?

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    1. Hi Jayne! I haven't tried to refill my Letraset Markers with another ink - but that is a great idea! What I would do is contact Letraset and ask them. I think it is strange that you can get the "full" marker but not the refill. Let me know if I can help in any other way :) Christi

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