What is Alcohol Ink?
This intriguing medium has recently gained popularity over the last few years. You may have heard about alcohol ink, but what actually is it!? Alcohol inks are fast-drying, highly pigmented, alcohol-based inks that are great to use on any hard, non-porous surface including glass, metal, plastic, ceramic, stone, leather and polymer clay. Once the ink is applied, the alcohol evaporates, leaving the dye behind. Once alcohol ink dries, it can be re-wet with rubbing alcohol (91% Isopropyl Alcohol), allowing for unique and versatile effects that cannot be achieved with water-based products like acrylic paint. Alcohol ink is waterproof, adding to its durable properties.
These dye-based inks are transparent and extremely vibrant. Because of the transparent properties, you can play around with layering the inks. Once the first layer dries, you can add on additional layers to create depth and overlapping colors. The transparency lets you add tints of color and texture without muddying or concealing the original pattern or surface of an object. However, white alcohol ink is opaque, and can mix with the other colors to create tints and pastels. Piñata Alcohol Inks offer metallic alcohol ink colors that are great for adding highlights and pops of metallic shine.
The inks can be used straight, but you can add an extender/blending solution which increases the ink’s ability to spread. It also maintains the ink’s glossiness, increases the transparency of the ink, and extends the drying time. Adding drops to dry alcohol ink creates beautiful bubble-like rings that resemble the appearance of stone or marble. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to spread the inks, but mixing the inks with rubbing alcohol dilutes the pigment and removes its natural shine, creating a matte finish.
The inks can be dropped onto the surface, but can also be applied using an applicator. It’s all about experimentation with this unique medium. Once the ink is dropped on the surface, you can use air to blow the ink around. These inks are easily manipulated. There are so many different tools that can be used to create different textures in the ink such as a palette knife, a paint brush, a hair dryer, a felt pad applicator, blowing air through a straw to spread the ink, flicking paint off on a brush, or rolling a straw in the ink to create ripples.
Blowing air though a straw to spread Piñata Alcohol Inks on Yupo paper
Yupo paper and ceramic tiles are two popular surfaces for alcohol ink. Yupo paper is a synthetic, plastic paper that is recyclable, waterproof, and non-porous, making for a fantastic alcohol-ink surface. It has a plastic-like feel and is durable yet flexible. The Yupo paper can then be framed, used for scrapbooking, or made into a card. Artists additionally gravitate towards the smooth, non-porous surface of ceramic tiles that let the alcohol inks flow effortlessly. Ceramic tiles with alcohol ink designs make great coasters, wall decorations, and gifts!