Alcohol ink is commonly used on ceramic tiles, but it can also be used on porous surfaces too! This allows Alcohol Inks to be used in a large variety of craft projects. In this article, we’ll cover Alcohol Ink Coasters, Mugs, Cutting Boards, Greeting Cards, Back Splashes, and more! Although AI behaves differently on porous surfaces, with a little bit of advanced preparation, it can be used on almost anything.
About Alcohol Ink Craft Projects
Alcohol ink is exactly what the name suggests; highly pigments alcohol-based inks. AI is waterproof, fast-drying, and extremely versatile when it comes to usage.
Typically, AI is used on surfaces like tiles, metals, mirrors and other shiny, non-porous surfaces. This is because smooth surfaces create friction-free surface for the alcohol inks to slide across. Artists can manipulate the ink using fire (yes, seriously, fire!), air, or simple movement. Blending solution can be added to alcohol inks on non-porous surfaces to extend the working time of the ink, although it still dries pretty quickly.
Alcohol ink is transparent, but it can be layered to create an opaque look. When used in resin, alcohol ink can be used to create water effects, or when used in a higher volume, a semi-opaque effect.
Let’s get crafting!
In this article, we’ll discuss the following Alcohol Ink Craft projects:
- Alcohol Ink Coasters
- Alcohol Ink Mugs
- Alcohol Ink Wooden Cutting Boards/Coasters (using wood slices)
- Greeting Cards using Alcohol Inks
- Resin Casting with Alcohol Inks
- Backsplash (for showers, kitchens, etc. using subway tiles) using Alcohol Inks
- Embellished AI Projects (using vinyl and embossing methods)
Alcohol Ink Coasters
When you think about alcohol ink, coasters probably come to mind; that’s because creating drink coasters out of tiles and alcohol ink is the one of the most popular AI projects!
This classic alcohol ink project requires little to no prep time; you’ll use smooth ceramic tiles for this project, which only need a light cleaning with rubbing alcohol to remove any extra dirt or debris.
To create the coasters, you can use several different methods.
- Air manipulation: Using your own breath and a straw, an airbrush, or an air compressor with adjustable pressure, you can blow the alcohol ink around while it’s still wet. It dries quickly! Use a blending solution or rubbing alcohol to extend the working time of the alcohol ink.
- Fire: If you’re using ceramic tiles, you can actually set the alcohol ink aflame to create beautiful patterns. ONLY DO THIS OUTSIDE as alcohol ink that’s burning can send off a pretty large flame.
- Tilting: If you add a bit of extra alcohol or blending solution, you can tilt the ceramic tile to move the ink around.
The best way to protect your coasters is to seal with a flood coat of resin; this will keep them vibrant and protected from water droplets if the coasters are actively used. You can also find pre-cut, squares of cork with adhesive already attached to finish the back of the tiles, and there you have it; beautiful, unique coasters!
Decorating Mugs & Bowls with Alcohol Inks
You can create truly unique mugs using alcohol ink also; all you need is a smooth mug, alcohol ink, and some masking tape to make this work.
- First, you’ll want to tape off the rim of the mug, both inside and out. You should leave enough space for someone’s lips; we suggest about 2 inches or so. Make sure the tape covers not just outer and inner surface, but the rim as well; you can fold the tape over the top to protect it.
- Wipe down the surface of the mug with a bit of alcohol. This will help clear any debris or dust from the surface to avoid imperfections.
- Using the same techniques as the coaster project, apply your ink. You can use air manipulation or manual manipulation (tilting). If you have a thick ceramic mug with no paint or texturing that is smooth and clean, you can use the fire method; but be very careful to stand back.
- You do not need to seal the mug. After your ink dries, your mug is done; you don’t need to seal it. However, if you want a little bit of extra shine, you can seal your mug with Kamar Varnish or another water-based sealant; just remember that you must tape off the rim to avoid potential health hazards for the user.
You can also create bowls and plates using this method! Bowls can be turned into beautiful trinket dishes or, if the rim is taped off, used for eating.
If you’d like to create a set of plates, purchase clear plates and make sure to tape off the outer rim of the plate. You’ll only be applying alcohol ink to the back of the plate; i.e, not where the food sits. That’s why clear plates are important if you want to make your own dinner set.
With all of these, make sure that you gently wash these items by hand and avoid scrubbing.
Using Alcohol Ink on Wooden Pieces
Creating alcohol pieces on wood comes with a few special challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable and the finished project is beautiful!
You can go about creating alcohol ink craft projects on wood a few ways.
Seal First, Alcohol Second
If you want to retain the flow and maneuverability of your alcohol ink, you can seal your wood first with a sealant like Kamar or Polycrylic to give it a smoother surface to work with; with emphasis on smoother. Your alcohol ink will not behave in exactly the same way that it would if you used it on a completely non-porous surface like ceramic. You can still manipulate it by moving it around and blowing it, however.
Alcohol First, Seal Second
If you choose to use alcohol ink on bare wood, you’ll still get beautiful results; they’ll just be a little bit different than if you used a non-porous surface!
You’ll need to plan your piece carefully to achieve the look you want. Once you’ve dropped your ink onto the surface of your wood, there’s really no going back; you can’t just wipe it away. You can use blending solution to soften the edges of your alcohol drops, and white alcohol ink to soften the colors and enhance blending.
For both methods, seal with resin or Kamar afterwards to retain shine, or leave as-is for a more natural, matte finish.
You can use this method to create alcohol ink embellished cutting boards (just make sure to follow proper food safety protocol), wooden ornaments, or even coasters made from wood rounds. Make sure that you’ve properly cleaned all of the dirt and debris from the surface of the wood before you ink!
Alcohol Ink in Greeting Cards
You can make beautiful greeting cards with alcohol ink, yupo paper or even photo paper!
Yupo paper is commonly found in art supply stores (usually online), and photo paper can be purchased at just about any big box store. You can also find the Tim Holtz brand of paper specifically designed for alcohol ink. For more information about the complete list of Alcohol Ink Supplies, check out our Alcohol Ink Supplies Guide.
If you’re making a folding card, the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out where your fold will be and either score it for folding later, or fold it first. If you don’t want to cover the entire paper, you can use tape to create an easy work area.
You can use alcohol ink, blending solution and standard isopropyl alcohol to create pieces on yupo or photo paper. Remember; alcohol ink dries very quickly! You’ll need to work swiftly if you want to get the right color blending and fading, so we recommend setting up your work space first with all of your colors, blending solution, gloves, and anything you’ll use to manipulate the ink like straws. That way, you don’t have to worry about unwanted drying while you’re working.
Before packaging your cards for resale or mailing, make sure that they are completely dry to prevent smudging!
Resin Casting using Alcohol Inks
Another great alcohol ink craft project is using it for Resin Art. Alcohol ink provides semi-transparent coloring, which is great if you’re trying to create stained glass or even water effects.
If you’re using a 3D mold, you can mix a few drops of blue alcohol ink into your resin to recreate tropical water. You can also create resin pieces using the petri dish method. In this method, you will pour your mixed resin into a 3D mold of your choice undyed, and then drop the desired colors in, one at a time, followed by white alcohol ink. For example, if you want to use red, yellow and blue, you’d drop five drops of red in and then drop five drops of white alcohol ink directly into the center of the red dots. Repeat this for each color.
The white alcohol ink will weigh down the less dense colors and cause a “petri dish” sinking effect that looks great for coasters or paperweights.
There are a lot of ready to use molds that imitate ocean waves, or even small molds where you can cast faux crystals; alcohol ink works perfectly for these projects. You can find a ton of content on our site about Resin Art.
Backsplash for Kitchen or Bathroom using Alcohol Inks
Ceramic tiles can be used for much more than just table decor; if you have the patience, you can also create unique backsplashes for your bathroom or kitchen using alcohol inks. Some artists have even created entire showers out of their alcohol ink or acrylic poured tiles!
To create a backsplash, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper measurements for the area to be covered first, and cut your tiles appropriately. Clean your tiles to remove any dirt or debris, taking special care to sand down any rough spots.
Then, it’s time to ink! Create your tiles as you normally would, paying attention to how the design will flow. We suggest laying your tiles out in your workspace to mimic the area to be covered so you can have more control over the way the design moves.
Finally, you’ll want to seal your tiles with resin. Resin will hold up to water and other liquids, as long as they aren’t caustic. Make sure to tape the backs of the tiles to avoid any uneven spots, or sand them once they’re completely cured.
Embellished Alcohol Ink Pieces – Vinyl and Embossing
If you’ve already created an alcohol ink piece but you’re not happy with how it’s turned out, you can use vinyl decals/cutouts or embossing powder to make it even more unique.
When using vinyl on alcohol ink, it’s very important that the alcohol ink is completely dry first; otherwise, you risk peeling off the ink along with the transfer tape used to apply the vinyl. If you’re using especially strong transfer tape for an intricate design, it may be wise to spray a thin layer of Kamar on your piece first to protect the ink.
Embossing alcohol ink is very easy, as long as you follow a few safety steps.
- If you’re using a surface you haven’t embossed on before, don’t jump right into the finished piece. Instead, test out your embossing skills on a smaller piece first to make sure you either heat the embossing powder enough, or not too much. If you heat it too much, the embossing powder will burn.
- Protect your workspace when embossing! This is so important; it gets really hot under pieces when they’re exposed to direct heat from an embossing gun. Make sure that your project is on a surface that can withstand high temperatures.
- Protect yourself when you’re embellishing, too! Wear gloves, but also take care not to touch the piece right after using an embossing gun on it. Depending on the material you’ve used, you’ll want to let your newly embossed piece sit for at least a half hour before trying to move it.
For both vinyl and embossing, resin is a great choice for sealing; using a flood coat of resin will give you a glassy, flat surface instead of using a thin coat of a spray sealant that will allow the texture of the vinyl or embossing powder to show through.
Final Thoughts on Alcohol Ink Crafts Projects
There aren’t many things you can’t ink on! When it really comes down to it, you just need to remember that non-porous surfaces are almost always easier to ink on, but with a little advanced preparation and patience, porous surfaces can take ink too.
How do you use alcohol ink? Let us know in the comments!