Alcohol Ink Supplies: What You Need to Get Started

Updated on December 15, 2018
carrie-kelley profile image

Alcohol Inks have become one of my favorite mediums from the first time I tried them.

Alcohol Ink Supplies: A list of what you'll need to get started.
Alcohol Ink Supplies: A list of what you'll need to get started. | Source

Alcohol inks are a unique medium that can be used to create unique and vibrant paintings and designs on a variety of surfaces. Here is a list of alcohol ink supplies, some basic information about how each one is used, and where you can buy them.

Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter SetTim Holtz Alcohol Inks
Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter Set
Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter Set | Source
Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks | Source

1. Alcohol Inks

Alcohol inks are transparent, dye-based inks that dry quickly and can be used on many different surfaces. Some brands you'll find are:

  • Ranger Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
  • Jacquard Piñata Color
  • Art-C Alcohol Inks

Inks can be bought as individual bottles or in sets. The 0.5 ounce bottles are small, but they’re more than enough for beginners to start with.

I use lots of colors in my paintings, so the Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter Pack with nine colors has worked well for me. It includes a gold ink for adding some metallic sparkle.

If you want a smaller set, Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks come in a variety of three-color sets.

Tips:

  • Start with at least two colors.
  • If you want to experiment with a wide array of colors, buy a set.
  • Add a metallic fixative for highlights.

Surfaces
Surfaces | Source

2. Surfaces for Alcohol Inks

Alcohol inks work best on non-porous surfaces. This type of surface lets the inks flow and blend, creating all sorts of interesting designs. There are many options to choose from, but here are some of easiest to work with for beginners:

Yupo Paper

Yupo is a unique, water-resistant, polypropylene paper that’s well-suited for this type of painting. It won’t tear while blending, and is available in a few types and sizes.

Here are some common types of Yupo:

  • White
  • Translucent
  • Standard Weight
  • Heavy Weight
  • Packs of individual sheets
  • Pads of paper

Small packs of Yupo are ideal for getting started. I've been using the 5x7” Tim Holtz Yupo Paper sheets because they're bright white and very durable.

For larger sizes of sheets and pads, Legion Paper Yupo is another good choice.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are another great surface because they’re inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores. Paintings on ceramic tiles have a glossy finish, and once the ink is applied, it looks like it is part of the tile.

In addition to paintings, four-inch square tiles can be used for making colorful DIY coasters.

Ampersand Claybord

Claybord is a multi-media surface that also works well with ink. These artist quality panels are available in flat, or cradled versions with thick wood edges. Once a painting is finished and dry, a special scratching tool can be used to etch designs or texture onto the surface.

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Tim Holtz Yupo Paper
Tim Holtz Yupo Paper
Tim Holtz Yupo Paper | Source
Source
Ceramic Tile
Ceramic Tile | Source
Ampersand Claybord
Ampersand Claybord | Source
Source

3. Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol is used to blend, remove and make designs with ink.

  • Use 91% to 100% for the best results.

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Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Blending SolutionAn example of how blending solution spreads out the ink.
Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution
Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution | Source
An example of how blending solution spreads out the ink.
An example of how blending solution spreads out the ink. | Source

4. Alcohol Blending Solution

Alcohol Blending Solution can be used as an alternative to 91% alcohol for removing, lightening, blending and painting ink onto a surface. It makes the inks flow and spread out in a slightly different way than alcohol, so it’s fun to try with your projects.

  • This can also be used to remove ink during clean-up.

Jacquard Claro Extender
Jacquard Claro Extender | Source

5. Jacquard Claro Extender

Claro Extender works to blend ink, while slowing the drying time, which gives you more time to paint and blend. It also increases the transparency of the inks and keeps them shiny. (Using isopropyl alcohol gives a more matte finish)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mixing ink colors on a small plastic paint palette with a paint brush.Inks diluted with blending solutionA palette like this is usually less than $1 US at art supply stores.
Mixing ink colors on a small plastic paint palette with a paint brush.
Mixing ink colors on a small plastic paint palette with a paint brush. | Source
Inks diluted with blending solution
Inks diluted with blending solution | Source
A palette like this is usually less than $1 US at art supply stores.
A palette like this is usually less than $1 US at art supply stores. | Source

6. Small Plastic Paint Palette

A small palette is helpful for mixing colors to create unlimited color combinations. It’s also useful for mixing ink with blending solution to make lighter, less intense colors.

  • If you don’t have a palette or need to mix more ink for a large painting, small plastic cups (either 2 or 3 ounce size) are another option.

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Plastic Droppers Dropping ink onto a ceramic tilePrecision-Tip Plastic Applicator Bottles
Plastic Droppers
Plastic Droppers | Source
Dropping ink onto a ceramic tile
Dropping ink onto a ceramic tile | Source
Precision-Tip Plastic Applicator Bottles
Precision-Tip Plastic Applicator Bottles | Source

7. Plastic Droppers and Applicator Bottles

Here are some items used to apply ink, alcohol, or blending solution:

  • Plastic Droppers - Any type of basic plastic dropper or disposable dropper will work.
  • Plastic Precision Tip Applicator Bottles (30 mL) - These are also sometimes called needle-tip squeeze bottles. They can be filled with alcohol or blending solution so you can apply it exactly where you want it in a painting or on a palette.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ranger Mini Ink Blending ToolAn example of the kind of pattern a blending tool can makeIf you don't have blending tools, cotton swabs work great for blending and making designs.
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool | Source
An example of the kind of pattern a blending tool can make
An example of the kind of pattern a blending tool can make | Source
If you don't have blending tools, cotton swabs work great for blending and making designs.
If you don't have blending tools, cotton swabs work great for blending and making designs. | Source

8. Blending Tools

Inks blend on their own when alcohol or blending solution is dropped on them, but you can also use various tools for blending and creating effects, patterns, and designs.

Some of the tools listed below are everyday household items, and others are designed for this purpose. It’s not necessary to buy all of these supplies to get started. It’s fine to work with what you have at home, and add more tools later on if you want to try new techniques.

Here are just a few ideas:

Cotton Swabs
Small Pieces of Felt
Pieces of Paper Towels
Paint Brushes
Drinking Straws
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool
Art Sponges
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
Art Paint Brushes
Art Paint Brushes | Source

Alcohol Ink Poll

Have you tried alcohol ink painting yet?

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Yupo Paper taped to a clipboard covered in foil gives a flat, stable surface to work on.
Yupo Paper taped to a clipboard covered in foil gives a flat, stable surface to work on. | Source

9. Clipboard or Aluminum Baking Pan

It’s difficult to paint and blend on a loose sheet of paper, so you’ll need a firm, flat board to attach the paper to so it stays in place while you’re working.

One easy method is to wrap a sheet of aluminum foil around a clipboard. Then, use a couple small pieces of painter’s tape to secure the paper to the board. This also works for smaller Claybords.

A heavy sheet of cardboard or a wood artist panel can be used as alternatives to a clipboard.

If you’re using ceramic tiles, place the tile in an aluminum baking pan to contain any ink and blending solution that spills over the edges.

Use a sealant to prevent fading, yellowing and UV damage to your art.
Use a sealant to prevent fading, yellowing and UV damage to your art. | Source

10. Sealant and UV Protector

Alcohol ink art needs to be finished with a sealant to prevent it from getting damaged by handling or sunlight. Paintings can also eventually fade if they're not properly protected.

A sealer with UV protection can prevent damage, fading, and help keep your paintings bright and colorful long-term.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Disposable GlovesCotton Pads
Disposable Gloves
Disposable Gloves | Source
Cotton Pads
Cotton Pads | Source

Other Alcohol Ink Supplies

Here are some other supplies useful for this type of painting:

Plastic Garbage Bag

To cover your table or workspace. A 13-gallon kitchen size bag is usually big enough.

Paper Towels

To set ink covered supplies on while painting and for clean-up

Disposable Gloves

Wearing latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves will keep ink off your hands.

Apron or Art Smock

To protect clothing from splashes or spills

Cotton Pads

These work well with some isopropyl alcohol for cleaning ink off a plastic palette.

Jacquard Piñata Clean-Up Solution

This removes ink from various surfaces. It also works well to clean brushes because it contains a brush conditioner to keep brushes and sponges from drying out.

Where to Buy Alcohol Ink Supplies

Arts & Crafts Stores or Online
Discount Stores, Hardware Stores or Online
Alcohol Inks
Ceramic Tiles (Hardware and Online)
Yupo Paper
91% Isopropyl Alcohol
Ampersand Claybord
Cotton Swabs
Ranger Adirondack Blending Solution
Paper Towels
Jacquard Claro Extender
Plastic Drinking Straws
Small Plastic Painting Palette
Clipboard
Plastic Droppers
Aluminum Foil
Precision-Tip Plastic Bottles
Aluminum Baking Pan (for Tiles)
Art Sponges
Garbage Bags
Small Pieces of Felt
Paper Towels
Art Paint Brushes
Disposable Gloves
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool (Stampers)
Cotton Pads
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
Sealant
Art Smock/Apron
Painter's Tape
A simple design using alcohol inks on Claybord
A simple design using alcohol inks on Claybord | Source

Safety Tips

Like many artistic mediums, there are some basic safety precautions to keep in mind while working with this type of ink.

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.
  • Read and follow safety instructions included with the supply packaging.
  • Wear disposable gloves while using inks and during clean-up.
  • Alcohol inks, isopropyl alcohol and blending solution are flammable, so don’t smoke or keep a heat source nearby while painting.
  • Alcohol shouldn’t be airborne, so don’t use it in a mist or spray form.
  • Store all the supplies in a location out of reach of children and pets.
  • Consider wearing a vapor or respirator mask to avoid breathing fumes from inks, blending solution and sealants/varnishes.

Alcohol inks are becoming easier to find at art supply and craft stores. If you can’t find them locally, look for online stores that ship to your area.

Just about every item on the list above can be bought online.

I hope this article has been helpful as you get started.

Happy painting!

© 2018 Carrie Kelley

Comments

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    • carrie-kelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie Kelley 

      3 weeks ago from USA

      @Arafatul Hoque Enan - I'm glad you like it! Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Arafatul Hoque Enan 

      3 weeks ago from Bangladesh, Chittagong

      Very informative.

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