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.

I saw this BEAUTIFULproject today... I was wondering how or if it could be used to create faux granite counter tops? It might be a great alternative price wise and you could experiment with color in order to get the combo you want. Has it ever been tried?
Sam  |  Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 4:08 PM
A friend of mine showed me this idea. She used ceramic tiles for hers. What is a good clear finish to put on it so I can use them for coasters? Would it work for a trivet when I put something hot on it?
Lori  |  Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 6:38 PM
My friend and I tried these and they turned out great! Unfortunately, the first time someone put a drink with condensation on it, the ink flaked off. We used an acrylic sealer, so we are not sure what happened... any suggestions?
Jes Hilton  |  Tue Jan 3, 2012 at 9:15 AM
would you suggest doing a sealer if im doing this technique on salt&pepper; shakers and coasters?
ag  |  Thu Jan 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM
awesome technique...beautifully done!!
SHARON  |  Mon Feb 6, 2012 at 2:36 AM
I love this!! TY so much for the step by step directions.
Sandy~Turtlelady~Sellers  |  Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM
One of my friends does something very similar on the back side of domines, now I can tell her that I know her secret! Way cool!
Arlyne Wells  |  Thu Mar 8, 2012 at 3:30 PM
Dear Cindy,
You have some beautifull work. I am an artist and always trying out new mediums. I recently bought some alchohol inks,love using them but have a few teething problems!
When trying to obtain straight lines the ink comes out in blobs instead of a continuous line.Also how do you make those little white random dots. tried the alchohol blender solution on a brush and flicked it onto the surface but not very successful.
Sorry for such a long message but would really appreciate some good advice.
Andrea Drimer  |  Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 6:46 AM
I love this project and just tried it. I am also having a hard time finding a water-based sealer that won't smear my tiles. I am trying to water-proof them so that I can use them as coasters, and cannot find the DecoArt sealer you recommended. Any other suggestions? Thanks so much!!
Wendy  |  Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM
beautiful! I must try this alcohol ink
luanne  |  Sat May 12, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Even though I used an extra pc. of paper before I worked with my alcohol ink....a bit seeped thru onto my dining room table. It's wood and I can't get it out. Do you have any tips?
kathryn Condon  |  Mon May 28, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I have used the inks on candles, glass and metal. I then used Plaid mod podge to seal the glass, (but it does show the brush marks) and metal. To water proof the metal I have used a polyurethane spray, but at this stage do not know yet how successful that will be. I guess it is all trial and error, and some products available in USA are not available in Australia.
Barb  |  Sun Aug 5, 2012 at 7:54 AM
Hi. I used the alcohol ink on 4 x 4 white tiles i got from the hardware store, but it wiped off later like a powder! It didn't stick to the surface. What am I doing wrong?
Margaret  |  Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM
I really am into art and this is just a new form that I have never seen. Are inks available at Michaels and Hobby Lobby?
Mary Cain  |  Sun Sep 2, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Can you use alcohol ink on glasses that you'll be drinking from? Is it safe?
I cannot find an answer to this question anywhere.
Thank you!!
terri  |  Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 8:05 PM
I have the same question as terri (october 13, 2012). I would love to make some unique wine or water goblet glasses as gifts but do not know if the ink is toxic or if I need to seal the ink once it is dry. If the ink is not toxic and I do need to seal the outside of the glass after painting, what do I seal it with?
roxanne  |  Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 8:32 PM
I am not sure if the ink is toxic, but it does need to be sealed. I used Plaid mod podge, but as I used a brush, the brush marks could be seen. I thought I might do a Google search to see if I could find a sealer that is used by artists who specialise in glass painting.
Barb  |  Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 5:24 AM
I'm using adirondac alcohol ink on a project involving crushed eggshells. I'm wondering if I could substitute Ancient Page acid free Archival waterproof dye ink?
bettyg  |  Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Sounds fab. Will definitely try the alcohol ink technique.
bronwyn swartbooi  |  Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 8:32 PM
Thanks so much for your complete use of alcohol inks. They work so beautifully on the crushed eggshells. The second part of my question was how could I use Ancient Page acid free archival waterproof dye ink. Any suggestions? Thanks so much for the responses!
bettyg  |  Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 11:59 PM

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