Alcohol Ink on Glass: Easy Tips for Beginners
I first tried alcohol inks in 2019, and they charmed me all at once with those gentle wavy patterns they made. Yes, that was a challenge to get all the supplies where I lived, but every step and every day of waiting for my order were totally worth it.
Alcohol ink is the most unpredictable art medium I’ve ever tried. You never know for sure what result you will get, but it’s almost always beautiful. After dozens of times painting with them on a special non-porous plastic paper I was surprised to find out that inks behave differently on the glass. I managed to tame them though! Besides, glass is one of the best surfaces for this medium as it doesn’t absorb anything.
What we need to start inking the glass
This is my list of supplies:
- Alcohol inks of your favorite colors
- Blending solution / Isopropyl alcohol
- Small jars or plastic cups for mixing
- Medical exam gloves
- Glass surfaces (I took small jars and photo frame glass)
- Pipette (optional)
- Waterproof cover for your table or floor
It’s better to use a low-power hairdryer (around 600-800w). Mine says 1300w but has two speeds – I use the lower one which is around 650w.
Some use isopropyl alcohol only to remove inks and correct the result. I use it as a blending solution, too. It increases the volume of the ink to cover larger surfaces, increases drying time, and gives more space for creativity and more control of the result. But it also makes the colors lighter when they dry, but that’s just something to keep in mind.
Of course, my older son joined me – he enjoys playing with alcohol ink, but I always equip him with gloves and a mask, because isopropyl vapors off quickly, and I don’t want him to breathe it in too much.
In fact, one of the rules for working with alcohol inks is to make sure the room is well ventilated. It’s better to open a window.
Gloves are also a must for me because these inks are water-resistant and alcohol dries my skin severely. I use medical nitrile exam gloves, they are easy to find on Amazon.
If you decide to use alcohol inks on dishes you want to eat or drink from, apply it only from the outside where it won’t touch your food or water, because the pigments can be toxic.
After getting all my supplies ready, I started preparing the glass. It is important to remove dust or ворсинки from the surface before applying the ink. Otherwise, they will become a part of the pattern – and you, most likely, don’t want that.
Preparing the medium
In small jars, I mixed some isopropyl alcohol (around 2 teaspoons) with the inks (the amount depends on how rich you want your final colors to be). This time I picked honey yellow for my jars, azure blue and greenish nephrite for flat glass and my younger son picked pink and purple – just because he goes through the period of love to these colors 🙂
I also poured some clear isopropyl into another jar in case I need to correct something in process.
Dying flat glass
I started with the photo frame glass. My plan was to cover just a part of it with color and leave the clear part for some quote.
If that was special paper, I’d pour all that on it and start moving around with a hairdryer to make nice flowing patterns until it gets dry. Or just pour and leave it to dry naturally. With glass, it works a bit differently: the inks spread evenly, covering as much of the surface as they can. They also dry evenly without making beautiful wavy lines or opal-like patterns.
So you have to either move the glass or use a hairdryer to move the medium around it.
Please note: the hot air significantly speeds up drying, so you have to be very fast.
I started with pouring some isopropyl and inks mixture over the glass. I turned on my mini travel fan aside from the glass (that’s important) and slowly moved it closer to the color spot, then started blowing at its edge. Depending on the result you want to achieve, you choose the angle between the surface and the hot air flow. The sharper the angle – the further it blows. I wanted my color spot to be more or less located on one side of the glass, so the angle was about 75-90 degrees.
When the edges started to dry I realized that the color is not rich enough, so I added several drops of ink right to the puddle on the glass. While doing that I kept my hairdryer aside not to ruin the pattern I was hoping to get and to not let it dry too fast.
Since my fuchsia pink is rather transparent and looks too pale on the glass, I decided to add some gold which I also mixed with some isopropyl in a separate jar.
The secret to sharp wavy lines
I’m crazy about those lines! They are easy and hard to make at the same time. In fact, that’s something the alcohol ink does by itself with a little help from you.
The sharp edge appears when the ink or isopropyl touches the already dry area. So when you dry the spot with a fan or naturally just move the liquid from side to side, every time letting it dry a few millimeters away from the existing edge.
For the jars I used the ink right from the bottle – no isopropyl and no hair dryer this time. I put about a half teaspoon to the bottom of the jar and started to turn it slowly to cover the wall sides. Don’t rush to make the layer nice and even.
The first layer goes the highest. If you don’t rush, it should be dry enough by the time you go a full circle. Then the next layer will create a nice sharp edge. I went 6-7 full circles on each jar. If there is some excess ink left on the bottom you can dry it with the hair dryer.
And there you go! You can mix colors, try different application techniques and get new gorgeous results every time. I’d be happy to see what you do with alcohol ink on glass.