Using Alcohol Inks to Decorate a Ceramic Soup Mug

In this video, I will be walking you through a project using alcohol inks to decorate a plain white ceramic soup mug, and in the process, creating a vibrant piece of usable art!

Materials I Used:

I begin my soup mug by taking the alcohol ink and applying it directly to the ceramic cup using a paintbrush. I don’t use any Isopropyl alcohol yet because A) I don’t my want my colors to run and B) I don’t want to dilute the colors at this point. As you continue watching, pay attention to how I apply the other colors to the yellow and how the grays are affected by the yellow color already applied. This interplay between the colors sometimes happens in unexpected ways, it is one of the joys (and challenges), of working with alcohol inks, especially when doing so on non traditional surfaces such as ceramic. But the end reward of having a useful and practical piece of art is well worth it!

Once I have added my base colors, I go back and add the silver metallic ink to my piece. Careful! I am intentional about the amount I apply because the metallic alcohol inks have the ability to take over a piece quickly. You can see that I begin by adding the metallic alcohol ink with a paintbrush and using little bits at a time.
Alcohol Inks, Soup Mug, Coffee MugOnce my colors are down, it’s time to begin manipulating the colors by adding isopropyl alcohol. This will allow us to achieve more texture, combine colors in interesting ways, and get some of that wispiness that is a hallmark of alcohol ink art. You will see that I am careful to add isopropyl alcohol in small amounts, even choosing to go with a much smaller dropper than what I normally use. I take it slow and add the alcohol progressively because I know from experience that If you add too much too quickly, you can lose control of your project before you know it and it will be very hard to salvage. As I add the rubbing alcohol, you can see the colors lighten and the silver dispersed among the other colors. I break out my handy straw to gain greater control of the isopropyl alcohol. Once its flowing in the direction I want and I am happy with the result, I grab the heat gun to stop the flow and settle things down again.

Tools such as my heat gun, straw or blowing directly on the wet area are all methods of control to change the quality of your piece. These tools are especially useful at the end, when you focus on the final touches, or quality control. Meaning, cleaning up the edges by creating wispy, finishing touches to the negative space. I also like to use a distressor sprayer to provide additional style points on some pieces. I demonstrate this technique using a past piece of mine. 

Alcohol Inks, Soup Mug, Coffee Mug

Regarding the negative space at the top and bottom of the mug, I believe that if you are interested in a clean look, negative space is the way to go. This means that you are incorporating the white of your surface into the piece. In this case I use the top and bottom of this mug to incorporate negative space. I do this by using isopropyl alcohol to pick the color in the areas where the alcohol inks overtakes the mug the negative space.

That concludes the decorating of the mug. In a future blog post, I will show my sealing process which is used to give the mug a finished, shiny and more professional look.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with me. Thank you for watching and reading my process video and I hope this post helps you to see that Alcohol Ink Art can come in many forms, and that creating usable art with this amazing medium of alcohol ink is well within your grasp!

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13 thoughts on “Using Alcohol Inks to Decorate a Ceramic Soup Mug”

  1. I love this art!!!
    I would like to know how the alcohol inks are preserved?
    Are the mugs washable?
    Thank you for sharing if your talent and skill.
    Cindi Lou

  2. Very interesting and inspiring to explore the media and technique. Music while working is great to have; however, in this case, the music background competes and detracts attention from the verbal instructions.
    It would have been nice if she had a way to periodically zoom close to the work and the areas and effects of the alcohol that she described. Or at least, a closeup view of the final product.

  3. Carol McCollum

    I agree with Mary, that the music is a distraction. I found it annoying to try to listen to instructions while trying to ignore the music. The tutorial would have been better without any music! I read that you are going to do another video on how to seal this. I suppose you’ll use Kamar varnish as your first sealer. Is whatever you are sealing with going to allow the mug to go in the dishwasher… or in the microwave? Also, since the mug has metallic al ink, is it microwaveable?

  4. Can you use unfinished ceramic and get the same effect? What do you use, if anything, to seal the artwork? And yes, is it dishwasher safe?

  5. Like so many other comments, how do you seal to make it heat proof. I’ve been doing a few tile coasters and sealing with dishwasher safe modpodge. Is baking the item sealing it enough to make it heat & water proof? So many diff techniques. Love your work.

  6. I would love to know how you seal it on the mugs. I have been using the Inks on Glass vases. I seal it with Krylon Clear Glaze. If you don’t seal your piece the Inks will wash off.

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