DIY Alcohol Inks

Posted by LindaM | June 12, 2015

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A couple of weeks ago one of my readers shared with us a video demonstrating how to make alcohol inks and after finally finding some time to watch the video I thought I’d give it a try.

Alcohol inks are used to add color to the surface of your projects and I like to use them for adding subtle shading effects. They can be quite expensive to buy but this video demonstrates how to make your own alcohol inks using cheap felt tipped markers and rubbing alcohol.

So how did it work for me?

While I was out and about I stopped off at the dollar store and found some felt tipped markers and some small spray bottles. I don’t generally use alcohol inks as a spray however I found some small spray bottles of hand sanitizer which were the perfect size to use for the inks so I removed the hand sanitizer and cleaned the bottles. Using these type bottles gives me the option of using the inks as a spray or with a dropper. And finally of course you need some rubbing alcohol.

DIY Alcohol Ink

I followed the instructions explained in the video and pulled the markers apart and soaked the pieces in the rubbing alcohol …

DIY Alcohol Ink

… and ended up with a nice selection of colors.

DIY Alcohol Ink

I tested one of the colors on a piece of fabric paper using a stencil …

DIY Alcohol Ink

… and it added a lovely subtle design to the surface.

DIY Alcohol Ink

If you’re going to try this, the only thing I would add – and I don’t recall hearing it on the video – is that rubbing alcohol is highly flammable so keep it away from flames! And if spraying alchol ink I would also suggest using it in a well-ventilated area or even wearing a mask because inhaling the overspray is not good for your health.

Otherwise it works a treat!

Go try it!

Enjoy and Sew Creative!

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  1. Thanks for this tutorial, I really liked and as always your projects are inspiring. I’ll have to try your method for creating Alcohol inks. Thanks again, I pinned this tutorial on pinterest !

    • Thanks Marisa :)

  2. A great tutorial. Do you know where you can purchased the alcohol in the UK, or if it has a different name?

    • I really don’t know, however if you do a search on for rubbing alcohol you might some information that is helpful.

  3. Wonderful tutorial Alcohol inks are so expensive in Australia EDIT –I think rubbing alcohol is called methylated spirits in UK & Oz NO – THEY ARE DIFFERENT! Going to the $2 shop today for the pens as I already have the spirit/alcohol

    Did you intend the stencil to be soft in colour ? Maybe less alcohol will make the brew stronger and the colours stronger too?
    Thanks for this great idea

    • NOTE – alcohol ink and methylated spirits are not the same thing!

      Inks are translucent so they will never provide a truly strong color and I use them for shading and adding highlighted color for which they are perfectly suited. If you want a stronger color, then you would need to use paint.

    • I’ve been using Jan’s recipe for years, with rubbing alcohol, less than AU$10 from the chemist. Once you are set up with the first batch, its very easy to make custom colours and they last for a long time, even through our Aussie summers! I also use Jan’s other recipes from her book which is a free download on her website. Its a gold-mine of cheap alternatives to the expensive brand names.

  4. Great idea. Using Vodka would make it expensive I would think even if you bought a cheap brand; waste of vodka some might say haha. Would it work with acrylic ink and alcohol do you think? As some acrylic inks are cheap. I could always try it.
    Anne x

    • I don’t know if it would work with acrylic ink, but I have to ask – why would you want to? I guess maybe I’m missing your purpose for wanting to do this.

  5. Linda, hand sanitiser is rubbing alcohol! I buy those in packs of three from our pound stores and just add the ink colour in the same way….instant alcohol ink sprays. The hand sanitiser loses it’s gel quality once mixed with the ink.

    • Thanks for the tip Mel :)

  6. Yes I tried it with the hand santizer and the cheap felt pens for the ink and then I ran out of felt pens for my next batch – we live in far rural NSW Australia and cant run t the corner shopping mall every day. So I looked around and found cake colourings and used a few drops of them Yes there is a definite difference in the effect as the cakes colours are more vibrant but then I had mixed them with no recipe just trial and error So now I have two sets of papers, the soft translucent felt pen inks and the smack in your face cake colours It pays too experiment with what you have on hand

  7. rubbing alcohol is called surgical spirit in UK and Ireland

  8. Hello my friends! To work with silk cloth and allow to dry, dilute with pure Alcohol! Greetings from gemany


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