Alcohol Inks by Jane Sanem

Alcohol Inks create interesting patterns and effects on acrylics, plastic, and porcelain. The Inks are permanent and dry fairly quickly. I took a class on Alcohol Inks from Barb Anderson. Alcohol Inks are fun, easy, and you can create a new look for miniature items, like plates, bowls, cups, silverware, etc. Thanks Barb, I’m hooked!

Looking for dishes to use Alcohol Inks on? Check out Factory Direct Craft – They carry a great variety of white porcelain platers, bowls, teapots, etc. I negotiated a 15% discount (good through May 21, 2017) on ALL purchases. Enter MINIATURES as the coupon code to receive your discount. Here are some items (pictured above) I’ve used with Alcohol Inks and their item number – White Platers (1718A), Tureen and Ladle Set (C1589), and Porcelain Teapot (C1566).  These items are all pictured. Factory Direct Craft also carries a variety of miniature items. Happy shopping!

Alcohol Ink can be diluted with a blending solution or rubbing alcohol, or can be used straight from the bottles depending on the desired effect. A blending solution adds more subtle coloring effects, undiluted Alcohol Inks result in a more metallic finish. The ink can be applied directly to the object, or a Micro Sponge applicator can be used.

Alcohol Inks are available at most craft stores, usually located by scrapbooking supplies. The inks come in a three pack at the craft stores. Online you can buy individual bottles. The inks come in numerous colors and metallic. Micro Sponges are applicator tools are available at most craft stores.

Using the small squeeze Alcohol Ink bottle, dots of ink in one or more colors are placed on a felt pad and dabbed over the surface of the object. The effects will vary, depending on the size and amount of dots and the number of colors used. No more than two or three colors should be used.  Too many colors can result in a muddy looking appearance. The use of the blending solution will help the ink dots to blend together more smoothly. Metallic Alcohol Ink colors (gold, silver, bronze) are great to finish off your piece. You can also use a metallic marker to trim on your pieces.

Experimenting with the inks is not only fun, it gives you a great idea of the different effects that can be achieved. ALWAYS, ALWAYS WEAR A PAIR OF RUBBER GLOVES WHEN USING THE INKS. 


Supplies and Suggestions when using Alcohol Inks

  • Always wear rubber gloves when working with the inks.
  • Work in a well ventilated room.
  • Protect your workspace with newspaper or anything that will protect the surface of your worktable. I use a paper plate on top of newspaper for inking. The inks will stain anything they come in contact with.
  • Alcohol Inks have not been tested for food safety, do not use on objects that are going to be used for food or beverages.
  • Blending Solution is used for lightening the colors. Blending the colors gives them a softer look and cleaning up any spills.  
  • If you are not happy with your results, just put some blending solution on the piece, wipe it off and start over.

There are a number of books available on the use of Alcohol Inks and projects. The internet is full of projects, tips and techniques.

How to Use Alcohol Inks


Place a few drops of one color of ink on a felt pad (can be purchased or cut up a white square of felt). Scrunch up the pad and randomly dab on the object you are coloring. Select a different color and repeat the process on the same felt pad until you like the effects. If desired, a drop of blending solution can be added on the felt pad and dabbed over the surface to help blend the colors and give a softer look to the designs.

Alcohol Inks should be sealed with a water based sealer. Mod Podge, water based acrylic sealer, or water based varnishes can be used – the key is water based.

When working with miniatures, use tiny amounts of ink and solution. Remember a little goes a long way. Alcohol Inks will not blend unless you use a blending solution. Start by practicing on a plate or bowl, something that can be easily handled. The smaller your item, the more of a challenge it will be. Scrunch your piece of felt as much as possible to get all of the piece inked. 

Glass or Clear Plastic Items: Put a drop or two of the color in the bowl, glass or pitcher and swirl around to color. Your Micro Sponge applicator tool will “suck up” extra color.

Silverware: Use your applicator tool to “paint” your silverware. 


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