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29 April 2022

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO ALCOHOL INKS

Alcohol inks are highly pigmented fast-drying inks that can be used on various non-porous surfaces. They are waterproof, alcohol based and there are several brands to choose from. You can also use alcohol ink marker refills for your projects, and these offer a very large selection of colours. 


Since they are semi-transparent, they can be layered or mixed together to create gorgeous effects. 


The four main components needed to create alcohol ink artwork are: 


  • Alcohol Inks (including metallics, mixatives and pearls)

  • Isopropyl or Blending Solution (isopropyl should be at least 90% or higher)

  • Non-porous surface (such as Yupo, craft plastic, glazed ceramic etc)

  • A tool to move the air around (low voltage hair dryer, air/dust blower, airbrush, paper straw).


Other accessories that are good to have on hand include:


  • Small plastic cups (for mixing, using for techniques, and cleaning your brushes if you use them)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Small plastic or ceramic paint palette
  • Ink Blending Tools from Ranger/Tim Holtz
  • Cotton Buds
  • Gloves
  • Paper Towel
  • Fine tip bottle to store alcohol ink for easier use. 
  • Pipettes or droppers
  • Alcohol Lift Ink
  • Cover to protect your work surface











ISOPROPYL OR BLENDING SOLUTION?


Blending solution is a mix of Isopropyl and other ingredients, and while they can be interchangeable in most instances, there are times when you will need blending solution. However most of the time when using alcohol inks I prefer Isopropyl as it is cheaper and does not leave a residue on the surface when it dries.  


However, if you are using the alcohol ink pearls, the blending solution is required, as it breaks down and spreads the pigment around. You won’t get the right effect using just Isopropyl with your alcohol ink pearls. 


Remember: Isopropyl is to alcohol ink, what water is to watercolour. 


While inks move faster with blending solution, Isopropyl does have a faster drying time. Especially when using a heat tool (like a hairdryer) to move it around. 


ALLOYS: Can be used with Isopropyl. Alloys create metallic highlights but tend to sit on top of the inks, and not mix in well. 

MIXATIVES: Can be used with Isopropyl. Pigmented to create highlights and will mix with the alcohol inks. 

PEARLS: Cannot be used with isopropyl, only with blending solution. Create a pretty pearlescent effect. 


GETTING STARTED


There are several different ways to apply your inks.  You can either place some Isopropyl on the page first then the ink, or the other way around. Experiment and see what effect you like! It is good to start with just 1-2 drops of alcohol inks and build up from there. As they are highly pigmented, a little goes a long way! I have done a whole page with just 1-2 drops of ink.


Depending on what surface you are using, placing a drop of Isopropyl on the page first before the ink, can stop staining. And using a needle tip dropper (like the one provided in class) helps you to control how much Isopropyl you apply. 


Then use your air blower (or other tool) to move the ink around. If using a straw, a paper one is more effective is there is less condensation that can affect the finished result. 


The more isopropyl you add, the more diluted your inks will become. You can even dilute your inks first with isopropyl in a small cup and use a dropper to add to your page for even softer effects. I also like to dilute my mixatives this way, as they are less ‘heavy’ on the page and like the inks, a little goes a long way. 


If you are working on black or dark surfaces, you will need to use a white mixative first as the alcohol inks are translucent and can't be seen on dark surfaces. 











Alcohol Ink and white mixative on black.


ADDING DETAILS


Once you are done with your piece, you can add splatters using a variety of methods:


  • Isopropyl flicked on with a paintbrush.
  • Splatter with alcohol ink, mixatives or alloys etc.
  • Stamp or stencil with alcohol lift ink.
  • Use an embossing folder and even try a sanding block for another unique look.
  • Use alcohol ink felt on a tool to add cool effects.


The great thing about alcohol inks, is that there is no wrong way to use them. Just play and have fun with them! The colour combinations are endless.


And if you don’t like a part of your work, you can simply use some isopropyl to remove the ink and start over! You can also use both sides (if you are using a plastic surface to work on), so you can just flip it and do something different. 
















Alcohol Lift Ink was used to stamp onto                                  An embossing folder was used after the ink

this card (after inking) to remove colour.                                and then a sanding block was rubbed

                                                                                                    across the top to create a fun finish.


SAFETY


When working with alcohol inks and isopropyl, be sure to work in a well ventilated area. The fumes can cause headaches for some people. I always like to have a window open nearby or a fan on. 


Alcohol Inks are flammable so do not use them near a heat source or open fire and do not let children paint or play with them.


Rubber gloves are also recommended as they can be difficult to remove from your hands, and do stain. The gloves also prevent grease from your fingers getting onto the painting surface.


Have fun playing, and be sure to share your projects with us on the The Scrapbook Store Creative Corner page on Facebook!


Jodene :)


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