Monday, February 6, 2012

Alcohol Inks revisited

Remember my epic fail with home-made alcohol inks and the wussy colors they made?
I decided to have another crack at it.  Janet, who actually WATCHED the video on you tube, left me a comment saying the "recipe" called for one sharpie per ounce of alcohol. And I had 3 ounce bottles with just one lonely Sharpie per bottle.
Since I was already this far into it, I decided to completely pillage my sharpie collection and add 2 more busted sharpies to each bottle.  And this time I wouldn't just squeeze the inserts impatiently for a few seconds, I'd let them soak.  In fact, I forgot all about them for a few weeks and yesterday took them out, and fished all the floating dead sharpie bits out of the bottles, and made a colossal mess, but LOOK:

The colors are WAY brighter.  These are sprayed on card stock, bristol paper and gessoed cardboard.  They dried really fast and since they're made from permanent markers they don't smear or bleed when you add other material.

The pages below were just regular copy paper used to blot up the excess from the top of the plastic stencils.

Since a lot of people use alcohol inks for non-porous surfaces, I tested it on the plastic alcohol bottle:

and on some aluminum duct tape:

and on some little metal wings (un-stained ones pictured for comparison).
This shot also shows the plastic stencil as another example of staining plastic.

So it works pretty well - but is it worth it?  If you pay full price for a multi-pack of Sharpies, the pens end up being about $.80 each.  I bought the spray bottles for a dollar each.  The alcohol was only a few bucks for a giant bottle (enough to fill ten 3-oz bottles).  All told, each little spray bottle would cost about $3.75 if you bought everything new.  Informal browsing shows me the average retail cost of spray inks and alcohol inks is about $4 per ounce.  Are these as totally vibrant and yummy as those?  Probably not, but since I had SOOOO many old and inherited permanent markers laying around, my out-of-pocket expenses were $12 for 10 colors, 3 ounces each.  (and a lot of elbow grease scrubbing the ink stains out of the kitchen sink).  Totally worth it.

So here's what I did with one of the pieces of paper while I was waiting for my insomniac son to fall asleep last night.  I sprayed a few colors of ink over various stencils.  Put down different stencils and sprayed different colors.  Covered it all with a light layer of gesso and then sprayed another layer of ink over another stencil
And since I'm still obsessed with my "posterized" image of myself, I painted a larger version of the stamp on top of a background that was layered with inks, then gesso, then more ink.

In all of my self-portraits I have the chin and jaw of Jay Leno.  I mean, I do have a pretty well-defined jaw area, and a hugely wide mouth, but I don't look as much like a mutant as this image would make you think.

on the other hand, I CAN put my whole fist in my mouth.
and it's not a particularly small fist.

And that's the 5th (or 15th) thing you've learned about me this month.
Betcha can't wait for more!


  1. Yea! The sprays look great! Very vibrant color. And you don't look like a mutant or Jay Leno!

  2. thanks for revisiting the ink, i think i shall just buy mine, but great color

  3. the sprays are very vibrant... maybe I give them a try :-) thank you

  4. This sounds like a lot of work - think I'd rather just buy the sprays! You commented on my Seattle mountain photo - it sure was a gorgeous day! It's rarely that crystal clear - the mountains looked like a cutout. Glad I could give you a reminder of Seattle. :)

  5. I am enjoying your experimentation....not sure I would do it though. Fist in your mouth, well that's an image in and of itself. xox Corrine

  6. I do like the look of these sprays....but can't stand scrubbing the sinks....
    You are a braver woman than I....and apparently more flexible in the jaw :)