Alcohol Ink

by Cindy Lyles

Take non-porous surfaces from "blah" to "wow".


  • Alcohol inks in assorted colors (Adirondack® colors used here: Butterscotch, Lettuce, Raisin, Eggplant, Stonewashed).

  • Alcohol Blending Solution*

  • Applicator and white felt rectangle (applicator is a hand stamp with hook side of Velcro® attached)

  • Mixative (Adirondack silver used)*

  • Craft mat

  • Non-porous surface to alter, such as this white CD tin (Try glossy cardstock, dominos or CDs; anything non-porous)

  • *Adirondack Mixatives are formulated exclusively for use with alcohol inks. Rubbing alcohol / Krylon or other metallic inks can be substituted; however, results can vary.


  1. Step 1

    Begin by placing white felt rectangle onto applicator, place nib of alcohol ink into felt and squeeze bottle. Apply each color once and avoid overlapping colors on the felt. They can touch, just not overlap.

  2. Step 2

    Randomly stamp onto piece to avoid the appearance of a pattern. Alcohol inks dry instantly, so virtually zero dry time is required between steps.

  3. Step 3

    Continue to stamp randomly. Do not cover entire piece; make sure a small amount of white shows.

  4. Step 4

    Without changing the felt applicator, squeeze a small drop of mixative onto the felt rectangle. Mixatives are highly concentrated and a tiny drop goes a long way.

  5. Step 5

    Stamp randomly to apply the mixative.

  6. Step 6

    Squeeze a very small amount of Alcohol Blending Solution onto the same applicator. Too much solution will significantly lighten or even remove the color from the piece. One can always add more if needed. Experiment to find a look that's pleasing.

    Tip: The blending solution is indeed "magic in a bottle" according to Tim Holtz. Use this product to clean work surfaces, remove adhesive from scissors, and remove any ink from hands or work surfaces. Try it on the Stamp-A-Ma-Jig™ clear placement piece after using waterproof or solvent ink.

  7. Step 7

    Stamp randomly to blend the mixative with the alcohol inks. The Alcohol Blending Solution mixes with the alcohol inks to creating a veined effect and blend colors. Stamp randomly until the look desired is achieved.

    Apply rub-ons or other embellishments to finish.

    Tip: If stamping on completed project, a good quality, waterproof ink works well. Ranger's Archival Ink is recommended. Solvent inks can react with the alcohol inks.

  8. Step 8

    Completed piece.


  1. Dominos are non-porous too! The application for this techique is endless. Glossy paper, buttons, CDs, and so forth.

    If finished product is to be worn or handled roughly, consider sealing it. DecoArt DuraClear Varnish™ is recommended, available in gloss or matte. It is a premium polyurethane finish that dries quickly (few hours) and with scant fumes. Envirotex™ is another excellent product; however one must work in a highly ventilated area and extensive dry time is required (up to 3 or 4 days, depending on weather conditions).

    All products used in this tutorial are from Ranger Ink ( available at your local craft/hobby store or through various e-tailers). For more in-depth information Tim Holtz's DVD The Journey Continues is top-notch and an excellent resource.

    Questions? Please start a thread in the proper forum and PM a link to me. I am happy to share what I know about this fun technique.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Alcohol Ink. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

What a great tutorial! I really enjoy using alcohol links and will give this project a try.
Corris  |  Tue Jan 8, 2008 at 3:59 PM
My sister and I experimented with alcohol inks on several surfaces (some successful, some not) and had a blast! Your instructions are well written and explain the medium very well. Thanks!
Rose  |  Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 6:56 PM
looks great will have to give this a try
denise  |  Mon Feb 4, 2008 at 8:57 AM
thank you so much for posting these instructions. I was just wondering about alcohol inks and wondering how to use hem what to use them on and then i find this!
Nichole Gauthier  |  Wed Feb 6, 2008 at 12:11 PM
Wow that is really cool and a neat idea!
Hannah  |  Mon Mar 3, 2008 at 8:41 PM
I love this tutorial. Thanks heaps!
SewDelish  |  Mon Mar 3, 2008 at 11:30 PM
What a great idea. Thanks for sharing!
George  |  Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 9:53 AM
Thank you so much for posting this excellent tutorial, I have had my alcohol inks tucked away in a drawer for so long not knowing how to use them. Now I can!
Katesnan  |  Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 8:39 AM
WOW! This is beautiful. I had no idea AI's were so easy to use.
Marcee  |  Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 2:06 PM
i just stumbled onto this, can you tell me a few things, like are any of the materials toxic?
Why can't pourous surfaces be used?
Lorie Hebert  |  Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 3:40 AM
What a great tutorial. Thanks a bunch. I loved doing it and it makes nice jewellry with bambooo chips.
Thanks for sharing.
Sylvia Stenning  |  Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 8:31 AM
Thanks so much for the directions on using Alcohol Inks. I took a class this winter while in Florida on using Alcohol Inks and the instructor was confusing to me, but you cleared everything. I will pull the inks out and try them again.
Elaine  |  Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 8:20 AM
how do I use alcohol inks in card making, if they have to be used on a non porous material?
shazni  |  Sun May 4, 2008 at 1:23 PM
Are these Alcohol Inks non-toxic? Are they safe to breath in or does one have to wear a mask?? maxine
maxine masterfield  |  Wed Sep 3, 2008 at 12:33 PM
Hello everyone - I'll answer a few quick questions asked in these posts listed. For additional questions please start a thread and PM me the link. Thanks!

Non-porous surfaces are necessary to allow the product to sit briefly on the surface and allow one to blend. If the product soaks into a surface, such as cardstock, no blending will occur. Glossy paper is an excellent product, as the clay coating creates a non-porous surface.

Ranger Alcohol Inks are non-toxic and conform to ASTM D4236.

The vapor should not be inhaled. To inhale you would need to get so close you'll get the ink up your nose. Being alcohol in nature they are naturally flammable.

These same 'inhale' precautions should be taken with other products, such as SU dye based reinkers, Crystal Effects, and so forth. Please use common sense.

For more info please visit:
Cindy Lyles  |  Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 8:59 PM
I love to use alchohol inks on acetate and on shrink films as well. Just remember when using shrink films that it is going to become very concetrated as it shrinks so go easy on it!!
butlerfly24  |  Mon Dec 1, 2008 at 11:05 PM
Irecieved alcohol inks as a christmas gift never
used them before,your info was very helpful
thanks so much
Patricia 123  |  Sun Jan 4, 2009 at 7:13 PM
Photo paper works wonderfully with AI and can be purchased inexpensively at most Dollar Stores.
Karen E Lueders  |  Sun Mar 29, 2009 at 4:14 PM
I made one of these using an old Junkitz Christmas tag that would never be used in scrapbooking. It came out so great that I will be attaching it to a beaded necklace. Also that tip about the alcohol solution is soooooooooo wonderful. Tim saved me $15! I had a circle punch that was stuck because I used that very sticky tape. I squeezed some alcohol solution into it, punched using some scraps and it's like new again. Yay Tim!
Adrian419  |  Sun Apr 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM
just wondering if u can use these inks on MAYA ROAD office sheers etc.. I have a bunch of punched shapes/office sheers fr maya road, made of this clouded acetate stuff.. wondering if i cud use my alc inks to color them??
bonnierose  |  Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 1:50 PM

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