DIY Craft Supplies- Make Your Own Alcohol Inks
Alcohol ink is a translucent ink that is used to color metals, resins, paper, glass, fabrics or anything else where you need translucent color coverage. It works very well on non-porous surfaces but it can be used on other surfaces as well. The popular brand of alcohol inks is the Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol inks and they can usually be found in the scrapbooking section of craft stores. Unfortunately, these inks can be pricey. For three small dropper bottles full, it will run usually around ten bucks a package. I have wanted some for a while but I just couldn't see paying that for three small bottles of ink. I had an idea about somehow using permanent markers to create these inks and after I ran across a few videos and saw it was possible, I couldn't resist making my own. I am super happy with how they came out and want to share with you what I did so you can save a few bucks as well. In this tutorial I have used a Bic Mark It permanent marker but Sharpies work great too.
What You Need:
- Sharpies or Bic Mark it Permanent Markers (in whatever colors you choose)
- Rubbing Alcohol (the higher the percentage of alcohol the better)
- Glass Jar- small but not too small.. (like the size of a small jar of mayo or similar)
- Plastic Dropper Bottles to store your ink in (2oz or around that size is good)
- X-acto knife
- Something to cover the work surface
What you first want to do is put some rubbing alcohol in a glass container. I used a clean glass jar that some dip for chips came in. Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of alcohol into the jar. Use less alcohol for a more concentrated color or more alcohol for less concentrated color.
Make sure you have your work surface covered and protected. It can get messy if you aren't careful.
Take the lid off and take the pliers and pull out the felt tip and put it into the jar with the alcohol. Then pull off the rubber grip that is on the marker. You will have to tug pretty hard to get it off. Then about 1/2 inch down from the tip of the marker (where the felt tip was housed) take the x-acto knife and cut into the plastic tip most of the way and then fold it back. You will see the ink tube with the filter-like material inside exposed. Pull it out with the pliers and discard all the other plastic pieces of the marker.
If you are using a Sharpie:
You do basically the same thing except the sharpie doesn't have any rubber piece you will have to pull off. Also the Sharpie is made in two pieces so you won't have to cut the tip off to get to the ink tube. You just need to pull the tip off the Sharpie using a firm grip and rocking back and forth or gripping it with a pair of pliers. Once the tip is off, the ink tube will come right out.
Now that you have the actual tube out that contains the ink, take a pair of scissors or x-acto knife and cut the filter tube in half. Then take the X-acto knife and cut a slit lengthwise in each half. What you are doing is opening up and exposing all the ink in the tube. Once you have the slit made, drop both halves of the slit ink tubes into the jar of alcohol. Put the lid on the jar (if you have one) and sit the jar aside for at least an hour.
After the liquid has been sitting for a while and if you are ready to proceed, grab the pliers or a pair of tweezers or you can even use your hand with a glove on and reach in and take out both the tube halves and the felt tip and discard them in the trash. If you want, you can try to wring the excess liquid out of the tube halves before throwing them out but be very careful...the color will be very concentrated and can make a huge mess! Just make sure you are doing it over a very well covered work surface. I made the mistake and ended up spattering fuchsia colored ink on my kitchen table :(
Now you just need to pour the contents into a dropper bottle or some other container with a lid to store it. A dropper bottle that isn't too small is best since alcohol ink is usually applied by the drop but any kind of container will work as long as it has a lid. You could even keep it in the jar you prepare it in with the lid on.
- Any percentage of rubbing alcohol will work for this tutorial. The reason why higher percentage is suggested is because it will dry faster than a lower percentage alcohol but if dry time isn't important to you, it really doesn't matter. You could even use just water if you wanted. I used 50% because it's what they had at the Dollar Tree at the time and in general, the lower the percentage of alcohol, the cheaper the price.
- If you are planning to make several colors at the same time, use a separate container for each color you are making. You don't have to use only glass jars for preparing your ink. You can also use disposable containers like plastic cups or anything else that you don't mind getting stained. I just like using glass because it won't stain.
- Whatever you decided to prepare it in, the finished product will need to be stored in a container with a lid.
- Out of all the glass jars out there, I think the large sized baby food jars are just the perfect size to prepare this ink and even store it in, if needed. So if you have a supply of these saved and would like to make your own alcohol inks, you are in luck!
- If you want to use the same glass container to do multiple colors, be sure to clean out the container with a paper towel and alcohol between each color to avoid transferring the previous color to the new color.
- Also, use a paper towel with alcohol to clean off the scissors, x-acto knife or anything else that has come in contact with ink in between each color to avoid transferring any ink to your new color.
- You can mix certain colors to make new colors if you would like. If you start out with making a batch of red, yellow and blue, you can then combine them and make lots of other colors. Find a good mixing chart or color wheel to find out which colors you need to mix to make the colors you would like. This site has lots of great information about colors and the mixing of colors- it's actually a site for kids but I found it very useful. Here is another site that has a chart for mixing food coloring that could come in helpful.
- This ink is usually applied in drops or by using a dropper. What you have made is concentrated ink solution so the more drops you add, the more concentrated the color.
- You can use this ink to add color to clear glimmer mist. Remember to apply fewer drops for a lighter shade of color and more drops for a darker shade. If you are interested in making your own shimmery mist, see my DIY Glimmer Mist tutorial.
- I am going to throw this in... in case you are not the do-it-yourself type and would rather just buy the ink. I do believe you may be able to use a 40% off coupon sometimes to buy this ink at craft stores if you would rather. Personally I would rather make the ink and use the 40% off for something else but that's just me :)
I truly appreciate your visit here and hope that you have enjoyed the tutorial and will find it as useful as I do. There are lots of things we can make ourselves to help save valuable dollars and time so any time I've tried something and found it to work, I love passing it along. I am sure many of you will agree, the cost for some of this stuff is insane if you were to go out and buy it at the store.
Update: Sharpie vs BIC
I have been experimenting with the different brands of markers for a while. I have found that in general, the Sharpie brand works a bit better if you want a color that is darker and more vibrant. The BIC brand still works great but in some cases it seemed more diluted in color than the Sharpie. So, if you are wanting a pastel color, it's perfect. Also, most the BIC colors I used were older markers that had already been used for a while so I suspect that may have had something to do with it. I encourage you to just experiment with the different brands and see which colors and what shades work better for you. Remember if you have a color that is too dark, you can always dilute it with more alcohol to achieve a lighter shade. Have fun!!
Alcohol Ink Craft Links
- DIY Alcohol Ink Coasters
Are you looking for a unique gift? On a budget, or have several people to shop for? Alcohol Ink Coasters are beautiful, creative and very desirable to gift receivers. See how quick and easy it is!