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Making homemade alcohol inks

I have seen a few projects using alcohol inks (particularly on Pinterest). I mean, look at these beautiful examples and fascinating tips at The Enchanted Gallery. For those of you that haven’t heard of them before, alcohol inks are a type of painting medium that is used for nonporous surfaces. It kind of looks like overly pigmented watercolor and you can achieve some really amazing effects with it.

Naturally, I wanted to try it, so I carted my husband off to some arts and craft stores in search. They were nowhere to be found! Argh! I found this frustrating. Of course I could order them online, but I have a habit of liking to have art supplies in my hands. I like to look and get a feel for them before I buy them. So I did the next best thing. I decided to make some. 

I watched a few YouTube tutorials, such as 3140Babygirl‘s, and decided that it was a feasible task. So I enlisted the assistance of my wonderful husband yet again and off to the dollar store we drove. I bought three packs of generic permanent markers, three packages of glitter glue (I will explain why soon), a couple of tubs, and a ceramic doggy (this had nothing to do with making alcohol inks but he was just SO CUTE!).

Here is how I made the alcohol inks

The first thing I did was squeeze all of the glitter glue out into the tubs. I actually just wanted the perfectly sized squeeze bottles. There were eight marker colors so I bought three packages of the glitter glue (that came in a package of three) for nine bottles.

I love how shimmery glitter glue is but I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.

Then I thouroughly washed out the bottles so they would be ready to become alcohol inks!

Look at that perfectly clean bottle.

Next I prepared my workspace by putting down a plastic cover and filled the bottles with 91% Isopropyl alcohol.

For whatever reason this alcohol bottle has a super wide nozzle on top and just wanted to spill all over the place when I first started pouring. So who remembers Warm n’ Tender Puppy? Anyone? I had one of those growing up and, though that bizzare pink puppy is long gone, that’s the funnel! I don't know why I still own that but it sure is useful.

Here comes the fun part!

I donned some plastic gloves and moved on to the next step. I want to point out that I HATE wearing plastic gloves but this part is incredibly messy and it was necesary.

So you start by using some pliers to remove the top of the marker and pull out the little sponge of ink. Because my bottles are small, I cut them in half. I also used three markers per bottle to make sure it was very pigmented. 

I used the pliers to pull out and throw in the nub, too. There’s ink in that as well. Then with a sharp blade I sliced the plastic around the ink sponge lengthwise. Be sure to leave a little bit of plastic intact on the top and bottom so that it’s easier to fish out later.

Marker graveyard.

If you remember from before I had one more bottle than there were colors so I decided to experiment. I took a few old random blue markers I had lying around and made it with those but I also added some metallic Pearl Ex pigment just to see how it turned out.

I don’t think it’s clear in the photo but it has a beautiful shimmer.

Almost done

The final step is leaving them in for over an hour. I decided to just let them sit overnight so I’ll know what they look like in the morning but some of the colors are already looking amazing. I may have to go back and add a couple of yellow markers since that one seems to be a little light.

Now we play the waiting game. I can’t wait for my alcohol inks to be ready!

So there you have it. My attempt at making alcohol inks. If these turn out well I’ll have saved a lot of money and will have a lot of fun colors to play with. Come check back in the next couple of days to see how they turned out!

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