Published On: March 1, 2023698 words3.5 min read

March Post


It’s thundering outside. The sky is a ceiling of gloom. Tall bamboo outside my window collide like feather dusters, pushing rain across the sky.  It’s the perfect time to tuck into the studio, aka The Infatuation Space. The only sounds are of the coming storm and the wheels turning in my head. I love this.

Last month while at the SOBO Gallery in Winter Garden, I accidently and happily happened upon a three hour workshop with one slot open for a participant. The instructor was teaching how to use alcohol inks. I joined the class.

For the longest time, I’ve held out learning about these brilliantly hued inks. Douglas McArthur said, “Rules are made mostly to be broken and too often made for the lazy to hide behind.” For me, a recovering perfectionist, one way to recover is break rules. It can be so much fun!

So I …

Stopped at a flooring store purchased 4×4 inch glazed tiles and cleaned them with rubbing alcohol and a cotton rag after arriving home. I lined my supplies up just as in the workshop: three ink colors, a plastic well paint tray to hold the inks, paper towels (a lot), brushes dedicated only to alcohol inks, and a container of alcohol to use with the ink. Having a round brush, a flat brush, a small and larger brush was overkill. As a beginner, I found myself gravitating to using one round brush.

Ready Set Go!

A few drops of ink were squeezed out into the well. I dipped my brush in a bit of ink and drew a random shape on the tile. I dripped dots of isopropyl alcohol onto the wet ink and new shapes with new textures began to form. Next I painted an area of the tile with alcohol and then dropped ink into it. The color began to run and take the shape of the painted alcohol.  When I goofed and too much ink hit the tile, I tipped the tile to let the ink flow in different directions. More ink, more alcohol, more manipulating the colors and shapes with my paintbrush. The hardest part was knowing when to stop.

After drying, 3 coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish was sprayed across the tile allowing time to dry in between coats. First a horizontal spray, then a vertical spray, finishing with another horizontal spray. On the back of my tile, I added a hook and hung my vivid and beautiful new tile on the wall that leads into my work area. It was like making magic.

WARNING!  Alcohol Ink usage is addictive.

It’s bewitching and mesmerizing.

Tips for Beginners:

  1. Ink can be directly applied to tiles. I found the ink in the wells dried to quickly and soon abandoned the plastic tray. Directly dropping ink onto the tile worked much better.
  2. Ink can be re-activated with alcohol or blending medium. The ink can also be wiped off with alcohol if necessary.
  3. Once the ink has dried you can go back into the image and draw on top of it with an ink pen or other tool.
  4. Useful tools include, sponges to add texture, a ball stylus to put dots of ink or alcohol onto the tile, textured paper pressed into wet ink will leave a pattern.
  5. A puffer tool or blowing on the ink moves it into random patterns.
  6. Mistakes often turn out to be gifts-stay fluid with your vision.

YouTube has scads of videos on how to use these brilliantly hued inks. Here are a few I found most helpful:

It’s Me, JD and to be a great launch pad for beginners.

Zimino Art demonstrates the use of straws and blowing. The artist creates an absolutely beautiful design

Tiffany Solorio BEST Alcohol ink TIPS and TECHNIQUES is a long video and incorporates ways to expand on techniques already learned.

Hope you have fun and perhaps set a timer to remind you to go to put down your brush and go to sleep.

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