Alcohol Ink Supplies: What You Need to Get Started
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.
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.
If you want a smaller set, Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks come in a variety of three-color sets.
- 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.
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 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:
- 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 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.
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.
3. Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl Alcohol is used to blend, remove and make designs with ink.
- Use 91% to 100% for the best results.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
Small Pieces of Felt
Pieces of Paper Towels
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
Alcohol Ink Poll
Have you tried alcohol ink painting yet?
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.
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.
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.
To set ink covered supplies on while painting and for clean-up
Wearing latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves will keep ink off your hands.
Apron or Art Smock
To protect clothing from splashes or spills
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
Ceramic Tiles (Hardware and Online)
91% Isopropyl Alcohol
Ranger Adirondack Blending Solution
Jacquard Claro Extender
Plastic Drinking Straws
Small Plastic Painting Palette
Precision-Tip Plastic Bottles
Aluminum Baking Pan (for Tiles)
Small Pieces of Felt
Art Paint Brushes
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool (Stampers)
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
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.
© 2018 Carrie Kelley