Monday, December 16, 2013

Make // Alcohol Ink Ornaments

This tutorial first appeared as part of Under the Table & Dreaming's 4th Annual Handmade Ornament Series

I discovered Alcohol Ink over the summer while I was coming up with ideas for restyling these recyclable glass bottles. The look was so iridescent and eye-catching that I knew that it would be the perfect treatment for simple glass ornaments. 

Flash forward six months and it was finally time to try my hand at decorating glass ornaments. I played around a bit and came up with four different, yet simple techniques. While they look a little labor intensive, they are surprisingly easy to make and not too messy (as long as you keep the ink off your clothes!).

Click "Read more" for the tutorial

Alcohol Ink Ornaments

Materials Needed:
Clear Glass Ornaments
wax paper to cover workspace
paper towels
cookie sheet or box to hold ornaments

for stamped ornaments...
Alcohol Blending Solution, or rubbing alcohol with medicine dropper
Felt Stamp Applicator - or squares of felt

Water Color Ornaments


First you'll want to choose a color scheme for your ornament. For this ornament, I chose to go rainbow-brite and used 6 different colors of alcohol ink. Remove the cap of the ornament. Choose your first color and slowly add 2-3 drops of ink into the ornament. Rotate the ornament to distribute the color. 

When there's just a small amount of liquid left, apply the compressed air. Alcohol ink dries pretty quickly and a blast of air just speeds up the process and keeps the ink from pooling. When the ink is set, move on to your next color.

Working one color at a time, continue to add more ink and try to cover the unpainted areas in the ornament.

For a more abstract design, drip the ink into the ornament and immediately hit it with a blast of air. Instead of a soft water color look, the ink will have a more spattered, finger-like look which I think adds a little more visual interest.

When the ornament is completely dry (1 hour max), replace the ornament top and you're done!

Stamped Ornaments: Bold & Iridescent


For this stamped ornament, you'll need felt squares. An applicator makes it easier (found with the alcohol ink supplies). Drop a few colors of alcohol ink onto the felt. I also used a gold mixative which has alcohol in it, but is thicker and not transparent like the other inks. It adds a nice glimmer to the ornaments.

For a bold look, you can stamp the inks directly onto the ornament. If it's too heavy, add a couple drops of alcohol blending solution and stamp over the design. This will create a bold, yet marbled look.

For an iridescent design, add alcohol ink to the felt pad, followed by a couple drops of alcohol blending solution. This will thin out the inks and the colors will be more muted and translucent.

Stamp the felt onto the outside of the ornament. The ornament on the left has a more translucent design.

The ornament on the right has bolder colors. With the felt already saturated with alcohol blending solution, I added more drops of ink for an intense and brighter look. 

The beauty of using alcohol inks... If you're not happy with your design, take a cotton ball, douse it with rubbing alcohol, wipe it off, and start again. 

I was ready to seal these ornaments, but found that the ink is pretty strong and does not scratch off easily. I decided to leave it as-is, but if you want an extra coat of protection, spray on a coat of clear acrylic sealer.

Translucent Solid Color Ornament


For a translucent, solid-colored ornament, add a few drops of ink inside the ornament. Then add a couple drops of alcohol blending solution or rubbing alcohol. Use compressed air to move the ink around the ornament.

Swirl the remaining ink around by rotating the ornament.

Drain the excess by placing the ornament upside-down on a paper towel.

Before the ink dries completely, use the compressed air to spread and dry any remaining ink. This should eliminate any streaking or puddling in the ornament.

I love the bright, eye-catching colors. 

Since we are giving out a lot of gift cards this year, I wanted to add a personal touch. I'm hoping these little baubles will make the presents more personal and memorable.

I just need to find a simple box template so I package these guys up.

Are you done shopping for presents? Have you started wrapping your gifts yet? I'm tempting fate and am hoping I can finish the shopping part this week... The wrapping part's another story. Wish me luck!