I love the look of alcohol ink art but don’t love the mess it makes. This is the easiest way to do an alcohol ink project without the cleanup.
Alcohol ink has this particular vibrant look to it that can’t be replicated with any other paint. It’s translucent yet fully saturated and I think that effect is part of its appeal.
I’ve been wanted to do an alcohol ink project with the kids for a while now. But most of the alcohol in projects involves a blow torch, or fire in some other capacity, or pouring ink that stains your fingers and gets everywhere.
I barely have any space as is much less a dedicated crafting room to make messes in. Plus, I really don’t want fire as a part of any art project the kids do.
So I modified a few of the approaches to your normal way of working with alcohol ink and figured out something that is not only kid compatible but minimizes cleanup.
*this article contains affiliate links for your convenience, see full disclosures here
Materials for Alcohol Ink Projects
Alcohol Ink – If you just want to try it out, I’d recommend this smaller (but top of the line) set by Tim Holtz. For not much more, you can get this entire 24 color alcohol ink set which comes with a mixing solution as well.
90% Alcohol – This one is optional. If you got the full set that comes with its own mixer, then you don’t need 90% Alcohol. If you only have sharpies, you will need the alcohol to mix the colors together. It needs to be 90% Alcohol. The 70% stuff doesn’t work for this project.
Templates – If you want to add your own monogram like the one I have in the photo above, I have a set of rustic floral monogram wreaths in both SVG and printable PDF format for Free in my Resource Library.
DIY Alcohol Ink – can you make your own alcohol ink?
The quick answer is yes, but it’s messy. If you’re in the mood to make your own alcohol ink by all means go for it. It’s the cheapest way to get exactly the colors you want. It is an especially good way to make use of dried up sharpies.
You just need to unscrew the sharpie tip to access the cartridge and then soak that cartridge in about an ounce of 90% alcohol. Here is a more detailed tutorial on how to make your own alcohol ink.
The set of ready made alcohol ink is so affordable and comes in enough colors that I decided it was just not worth the mess to make my own.
How to make your own alcohol ink coasters
As I mentioned earlier, I’m allergic to big messes so as a crafter, I find the least messy way to do all crafts. This particular method of making alcohol ink coasters involves no blow torch, resin or excessively stained fingers.
Step 1: Color your coaster with sharpies
This is the part where the kids did a better job than I did. I felt the need to make something organized and symmetrical. They just scribbled all over the coast which is what makes for a more interesting end effect.
You do want to have small clusters of colors though. Otherwise, it mixes too much and turns into a brown pool.
Step 2: Drop the alcohol in on the coaster.
I recommend doing this randomly. If you can still see hard edges of a sharpie line after the alcohol ink has spread, you can use a small brush to mix it up a bit.
I chose to use the colored alcohol ink directly but you can also drop just the clear or 90% alcohol ink it creates a really pretty diluted effect.
This color with sharpie method then mix with a brush and alcohol ink works particularly well with curved surfaces like a mug where it would otherwise just drip off the edge in random ways.
Step 3: Let the surface dry
It takes only a few minutes for alcohol ink to dry. If you want to set the ink, you can bake your ceramic coaster for about 30mins at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Just make sure the cork backing is not on when you do this.
How to seal alcohol ink coasters
I don’t have any space to do a lot of spraying in our house so I usually seal thinks with non-toxic sealants like dishwasher safe Mod Podge. It does the job but any sealant that you have to paint on is not going to have a smooth of a finish as the spray kind. I also like Aileens spray sealant which has a glossy finish.