It’s time for an easy peasy craft project! Alcohol Ink coasters. These are quick easy and really pretty. These would make a great gift. Something hand-made by you with love and colour! Make them in their favourite colour scheme. Or just make them for FUN!
Don’t be intimidated by alcohol inks. They are such a fun medium to use and experiment with, and they provide such beautiful fluid results. I would highly suggest wearing gloves when working with them, as they will stain your skin and whatever surface you are working on. If you are used to working with chalk paint or acrylic paints, note that these will not clean up with water.
There are a lot of different brands of alcohol inks. I have Piñata and Tim holtz and Ranger. Recently I have noticed that you can even buy alcohol inks at Walmart! This is the set that I bought when I started out, and I highly recommend them. It’s inexpensive and has a really good range of colours. The only other colours that I would probably supplement are some nice metallics.
Pipettes or dropper
First things first. You do NOT need to buy expensive blending solutions for alcohol ink. You just need to purchase 91% isopropyl alcohol. This is way cheaper than blending solution. I bought mine at Walmart. Also any pharmacy will have it. And to be clear, just because I put mine in a wineglass for crafting does not mean I’m drinking it 🙂 It just looks so much classier when I’m dipping my pipette into a stemmed wine glass. But that’s just me, I like to craft classy 😉
I have seen coasters done with a blow dryer, but I choose to use a straw instead. A blow dryer is going to evaporate the alcohol faster than we want. Also a blow dryer is not very precise. You will have much more control just using a straw and your breath. This way you can control how hard you blow, and you will have much better control over how the inks and the alcohol flow. So if you are a control freak, this one’s for you!
Alcohol Ink works on non-porous surfaces, as the inks and alcohol need to be able to flow across the surface. For this post I used hexagonal ceramic tiles that I bought on a sheet at Home Depot. These tiles are 4″ across. I would suggest buying a few so that you can try out different colours and designs. Another good place to buy tile is the re-store, if you have one of those nearby. If you can’t find the hexagonal tiles, square tiles work just as well. My only caution with square tiles is pay attention to the edges, and make sure that you get the ones without the small ledges on the sides.
I personally prefer these with less colours. I only used one or two colours on most of these tiles. You will get a really varied range of colours once it mixes and overlays with the alcohol. I find that if you add too much colour it starts to get muddled and it’s just not as delicate or pretty.
White space is your friend
You will find that the more white space you leave the better these will look. But that’s just my opinion. And if you want to experiment grab your inks and your tiles, and go and play! Also, you might want to buy yourself some Yupo Paper, which is a non-porous paper specifically made for mediums such as alcohol inks and play around on that to get a feel for the inks.
As I mentioned above, alcohol inks will stain, so I suggest setting up you work area with a plastic drop cloth (you can pick these up cheap at the dollar store) or a vinyl tablecloth. Then lay out some paper towels and set your tile on that. Pour some of your isopropyl alcohol into a cup, or use a wineglass if you are fancy like me 🙂 Get out the colours of ink that you will be using and remove the lids. Put some isopropyl alcohol in your cup and have your pipette ready. And don’t forget to put on your gloves!
If you want to see this project in video, click here to see the youtube version of this post.
ok, ok enough about theory and options. Let’s get to the creative stuff 🙂
Then add a couple of drops of alcohol. You can add the alcohol right on top of the ink and then blow it around or you can add it off to the side of the ink and then blow it into the ink.
Less is more
In this circumstance you want to avoid adding too much ink or alcohol. And don’t overwork the piece. Take a step back and decide when it’s good enough. Looking back through the video, I think I should have stopped here. I think this piece looks really pretty at this point. I have to mention that this is ONLY ONE COLOUR of ink so far.
Check out how much variation you get with just 2 colours!!! Crazy.
And here is what this one ended up looking like once it was complete. It’s still pretty cool. And the beauty part is that I can just go and make more!
On the bright side, if you buy yourself a stack of tiles, you can just play around and have some fun and see what comes out. Plus if you are looking for big bright colour, go ahead and go crazy. Just be warned that If you drop lots of colours together and then overblend you will probably end up with a brown puddle 😉 I’m being judgy, maybe brown puddles are your thing?, my bad.
Here is a quick video clip of the above tile
If you do make some tiles that are really ugly, and you want to start over, you can do that. Just soak a paper towel in alcohol and wipe the ink off of the tile. You’re wearing gloves right? You will have to rub it off pretty well and the tile may still be a tinge coloured. But if you are just wanting to play around while you are learning, this will work.
Finishing and Sealing
So now that you have created your fabulous masterpieces, what will you do with them? If you are just doing this for fun, then you don’t need to do anything. But you should know that the ink will peel and flake off of the tile over time . If you decide that you are going to display these as art pieces then you can give them a couple of coats of spray on kamar varnish, and that will seal the inks. If you do want to use these as coasters, you will need a more durable resin type sealer. You can use Envirotex lite hi-gloss finish, which is a 2 part epoxy. It is a bit mucky, but gives amazing glass like results or ArtResin – Epoxy .
You will also need to apply cork or felt pads to the bottom of the tiles, so that they do not scratch your furniture, I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to all that work refinishing my furniture, just to get scratch marks on it! You can buy cork on a roll, which is nice and thin. I had some at home that I had purchased from the dollar store, but it is thicker than I would like, so I’ll be buying a roll from Amazon. Also for a quick fix you can use felt furniture pads and that will work too! For cork – just trace out the shape of the tile onto the cork, and cut it out using scissors or a rotary cutter . Best to cut it a bit smaller than the actual size of the tile, so it’s hidden under the coaster. Then just attach it to the back of the tile with hot glue.
Alcohol ink reacts differently on tile than it does on yupo or other substrates. So, you may choose to use tile as a medium for an art piece. You can frame these in a small shadow boxes, or just hang them directly on the wall. Or of course you can do them to use as coasters, as we have done here. They would make a nice house-warming or wedding present. Something pretty and unique that was hand-made by you!
I hope you give alcohol inks a try. Such a fun medium to work with. Who know, maybe this is your thing 🙂 And you can retire selling your creations from your Etsy shop. Whohoo – You go!! I totally have faith in you 🙂
And if you want to see a ton of other great alcohol ink projects check out this post.
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