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.

Dear bonnierose, Yes, you can use MayaRoad Office Sheers, even Prima Paintables or 7gypsies printed transparencies, because they are all plastic, and non-porous surfaces. Dry time is about 5-7 seconds. Hope this helps!
Cindy Lyles/StarLitStudio  |  Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM
If I use alcohol inks on glass, can people drink out of the glass. Is there a finishing product that goes over the ink to protect it? Can the finished product go in the dishwasher?
Julie  |  Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 7:06 AM
I just found your tutorial and just love the look. I am going to go get some inks this week. Thank you for sharing.
Star Bear  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 11:03 AM
Just a quick note about using photo papers for this technique (I actually heard this from the man himself, Tim Holtz, during a demo at CHA)...

Some photo papers will work fine, but depending on the emulsion that the manufacturer uses, the alcohol in the inks can actually dissolve it and turn your project into a gluey mess! If you've found a brand that works well, definitely use it, but otherwise it's probably best to stick with glossy card stock, which has an emulsion that is not reactive with alcohol inks. HTH! smile
Michelle Shuman (mybelle101)  |  Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 11:51 AM
Gran y espectacular este trabajo, es fantstico, enhorabuena. Saludos
Marimer  |  Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 4:33 AM
I have not been able to successful seal my work on tin without ruining it (and crying) - the deco product did not seem to work - any suggestions out there?

madplaid  |  Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 8:05 AM
I love this project I will like more details
What is white felt?
Clara Morales  |  Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 3:42 PM
Dear madplaid - please drop me a PM and advise the name of the product you are using to seal your project and I'll do my best to help.

Dear Clara - The white felt is exactly that - white felt, pre-cut to the size of the ink applicator tool. The tool and application method were designed by Tim Holtz. One can purchase these pre-cut felt pieces (try googling Ranger felt ink replacements) in packages of 50. Please PM me if more info is needed & thank you, Cindy
Cindy Lyles  |  Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM
You are really an artist.. thanks for the ideas...
dhamphy  |  Tue Jul 28, 2009 at 7:57 AM
How do I do the glass ornaments? Is the ink and alcohol "swirled" inside? I can't seem to find anything with directions for these.

Nancy J. Baker  |  Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 9:03 PM
Dear Nancy,

The system will not allow me to publish links or I would list them here. I will send you a pm with the links, but for others that are looking for an answer, simply google 'alcohol inks glass ornaments' and you will find several tutorials and one youtube video from Ranger showcasing this technique using glass ornaments. Sincerely, Cindy
Cindy Lyles  |  Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 7:21 AM
I loved your project. it's beautiful and now I have more uses for the inks.
Barbara jardine  |  Sun Mar 7, 2010 at 4:21 PM
Wow! That looks beautiful! I love alcohol inks. I have tried this idea and it looks beautiful. Just don't be tempted to overdo it once you are pleased with the look as a couple I did went 'muddy' from not knowing when to leave it alone!!!!
SusieQ  |  Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 9:42 AM
he white felt is exactly that - white felt, pre-cut to the size of the ink applicator tool. The tool and application method were designed by Tim Holtz. One can purchase these pre-cut felt pieces try googling Ranger felt ink replacements
Anuya  |  Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 1:43 PM
I really loved your project. it's beautiful and now I have more uses for the inks. thanks
  |  Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 7:19 PM
Will you please tell me where I can obtain
alchol inks. It sounds very interesting.

Dottie Grubbs  |  Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM
What a gorgeous effect. Thanks for the great tutorial!
Julie Sistrunk  |  Fri Oct 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM
I learned an alcohol technique at a monthly crop I attend. We used tin foil and shiny scotch tape to stamp on. The tape came out really nice and can be used for a border or frame...Thank you Ms. Sharon for teaching us.
Janet Nelson  |  Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM
Love the color combo - bright, vibrant & your tutorial very user friendly! Thanks
Elaine  |  Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 1:42 PM
What is a thread and a PM and how do you start them?
Delores  |  Mon Dec 5, 2011 at 7:59 PM

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