Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Craft Project: Alcohol Ink Tiles Part 1: Experimenting with Alcohol Inks

I first came across alcohol ink on Pinterest a few months ago. I saw these A-MAZING tiles from Aimee at Artsyville. I mean, how can you not want to make these after seeing those?! Aren't they gorgeous? I had no idea what alcohol inks were so I started doing some research on them and came across The Enchanted Garden. She has a great overview of uses and techniques with the ink. The downside to this project is that it requires supplies you generally don't have laying around your house and they are expensive to boot! A 3-pack of ink can range anywhere from $8-13. My advice is to buy the supplies over time long before you actually need them. Use Michael's and Joann's 40%/50% coupons to get something each week. The upside once you have all the supplies: you can make MANY MANY of these before you would ever have to buy more supplies. And the 4-inch by 4-inch tiles from Home Depot are ONLY 16 CENTS!

Supplies you will need:
Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Inks
Ranger Alcohol Blending Solution
protective table covering

Optional supplies:
Ranger Adirondack Applicator with felt pads
StazOn Solvent Ink Stamp Pad
Archival Ink Stamp Pad

Tile #1: I couldn't wait to play until my alcohol inks arrived from UPS (I ordered them on Amazon). I had seen that you could tie-dye t-shirts by coloring them with permanent markers and then adding rubbing alcohol to them. So I colored some dots on the tile with permanent marker and then added some Alcohol Blending Solution. The result is very much like a watercolor image. Very nice color. I think this is a great technique if you want that look or if you want lighter colors (for stamping, etc). I also just played around with stamping on this tile. I haven't done much stamping in my life so I just wanted to play. I used the StazOn ink.
Tile #2: I applied Alcohol Blending Solution to the tile with a toothbrush. Then applied droplets of ink in the Citrus and Sailboat Blue. I found it works nicely if you apply one color and then wait a minute or two to apply the next color. You can use a Q-tip to help spread the ink around and to dab into white spots that remain. Lastly, I used blue StazOn ink to apply a stamp. But I don't really like how it turned out. I thought the color might be a bit darker blue. It just sort of looks messy. But I can't redo that part as I believe the StazOn is permanent.

Tile #3: I applied Alcohol Blending Solution to the tile with a toothbrush. Then applied droplets of the Watermelon ink to the tile. Remember your initial drops will spread out more and then as the Alcohol Blending Solution dries a bit, your drops will stay more circular instead of spreading out as much. I also used a Q-tip with a drop or two of the Alcohol Blending Solution on it to just barely touch the tile in some places. These are the lightest spots on the tile. Then I stamped with StazOn ink. you can tell I kind of stink at stamping as I didn't really center this properly. But oh well. ;-)
Tile #4: I used the Alcohol Ink Applicator for this time. I put droplets of ink (in Wild Plum, Sunset Orange and Sunlight Yellow) on the felt pad and applied a few drops of Alcohol Blending Solution to it and then stamped the whole thing on the tile. Putting the Alcohol Blending Solution on before stamping anything will give you a more blended, less marbleized look.
I let that dry quite a bit and then added one drop of each color to the tile. I dabbed the applicator over it once or twice and it gave it kind of a speckled look. I really like this one. I think it's fun!

Tile #5: I used the same technique as Tile #2 and #3 for this tile, using three colors of ink: Wild Plum, Butterscotch and Watermelon. I also used a q-tip to add a few lighter spots. I think this one turned out pretty darn cool! :-)

Tile #6: I used the applicator again for this tile. I used four inks: Sailboat Blue, Purple Twilight, Wild Plum, and Stream
I was going to just leave the tile like it was, but then, I came across a way to do stamp resist with alcohol inks. Let your tile dry for a bit--I left mine overnight, but I think an hour is probably fine. You stamp with regular archival ink (not the solvent StazON) onto the tile. I used Memento brand in black. Let it sit for a minute. Then gently run water over the tile. The water will remove the black stamp ink AND the alcohol ink beneath it. Do not rub the tile though, it might rub some of the alcohol ink off that you didn't want to remove.
Tile #7: As I was doing all this, I got to thinking. I wonder if you could do tape resist with these inks like we did when we created our tape-resist painted canvases. I had no idea if this would work or not. I wasn't sure if the ink would bleed right through the tape or what would happen. First, I cut the tape into very skinny strips and applied randomly to my tile.
Then I used the applicator to apply Wild Plum and Sunshine Yellow in only about six spots on the felt. I discovered the fewer dots of ink you use on the felt, the less "muddled" your tile will be.
I also only put a drop or two of the Alcohol Blending Solution on the pad after my initial application and stamped just minimally with that. I let the tile dry for a minute or two and dabbed off excess ink on the applicator pad on a paper towel. If you do this and stamp again with the applicator you can get little "bubbles" on your tile.
I waited a half hour or so and then pulled the tape off and I was delighted to see it worked!!! Oh so many possibilities with this technique! You can see in the photo that the ink does transfer just a bit under the tape. But I like the look of it.
Tile #8: Once I realized that the tape resist worked, it made me think of this Claude Monet Japanese Bridge project with tape resist. I decided to try a version of this on the tile. I LOVE how it turned out and I have been completely inspired to make more "Masters" tiles. I will be posting separately about this tile project and other Master-inspired creations in another post.
Now, that I did all this playing around and experimenting. I felt like I had a good understanding of how the inks worked and felt ready to tackle the project with my girls. I haven't sealed any of our tiles yet. But found a technique that I will be trying. I will also create a separate post on that process.

Links to related posts:


  1. This article is very helpful! I never rinse my floors after washing them. Now I now that I really should be! I'l get to mopping lickety split:)
    Glass Tile and Mosaic Tile

  2. Hi Holly! I love your post. I had to laugh because I just recently discovered Alcohol Inks myself and I thought of the different ways I could make designs and patterns only to go and find out its all been done already!! Oh, well, art is open to interpretation that is the best part! I like your tiles a lot they are beautiful!

  3. Had a question, can't find much info online! Is alchocol ink permanent? And if it is, what other material does it stick to other than tile? Thanks!

  4. Hi Holly! I too loved your post. Recently a friend of mine got me some Alcohol inks from U.S as it's not yet available in India,n that motivated me to gather info n tech. of using them, n i came across ur post. N trust me i read all the four posts regarding alcohol ink n the fun u had with ur daughters....thanks for sharing, really really loved those colorful tiles, soon i'm going to try some of my own....

  5. are these glazed tiles or the Italian porous ones?

    1. They are just the cheap bathroom tiles you can buy at a hardware store. They are ceramic and NOT porous.

  6. When I use the stamping pad with felt, little particles of felt get stuck on the tile as the ink dries a bit. Any solutions to avoid this? I used a felt square from JoAnn Fabrics instead of using the pads provided with the stamp...(saw a video online which suggested doing that) Help!

    1. I have used basic white felt before. Little fabric threads can come off, but I haven't had a major problem with it. Just a few threads here and there. It really wasn't that noticeable. I wonder if you just got a felt square with more loose threads or something. My only suggestion, would maybe a little piece of fleece work?

  7. We’ve been stumbling around the internet and found your blog along the way.

    We love your work! What a great corner of the internet :)