Monday, February 29, 2016

Rubbing Alcohol as Blending Solution with Alcohol Ink

I have been using alcohol inks for a couple of years, but I'm too cheap to buy the official Ranger Blending Solution (since it costs $6-8 for a 2 oz. bottle), so I have been using regular Rubbing Alcohol (70% alcohol) forever. I bought two 32 oz. containers at Costco (I think for about $6) and they have lasted me forever. I kept reading on alcohol ink tutorials that the 90% alcohol was the stuff to buy as a substitute for the blending solution, but whenever I looked for it, the store didn't carry it (most drugstores have it, but I never remembered to look at the drugstore). So, low and behold, I was at Target picking up the weekly necessities, and I glanced in the direction of the rubbing alcohol on the bottom shelf, and they had 90% alcohol rubbing alcohol. So for about $3 for a 32 oz container, it cost the same as the stuff I bought in bulk. So I thought I better compare the two and see if one is really better than the other.

I grabbed two white ceramic tiles that had the same finish. I didn't have any glossy ones, so these with a satin finish did the trick. I put a single large drop of Bottle Green on each tile and then used an eyedropper to drop a large drop of each alcohol onto the green to see how they reacted.

As you can see in the photos, they both reacted with the ink, but the 90% alcohol reacted a bit more.

Next I tested to see if the alcohol had a different effect on stamped ink. I loaded my applicator with three small drops of Twilight Purple on each side. I then dropped alcohol onto each purple drop. I used 90% alcohol on the left side and 70% on the right side. I stamped three rows onto the tile and noticed little to no difference in the way the ink behaved when thinned with 70% versus 90%.

I layered some Sailboat Blue thinned with more alcohol over top to create this pretty watercolor-look tile.

Next I tested out thinning the drops with alcohol and using canned air. I used the 90% alcohol on this whole project to see if I noticed any substantial difference to all of the projects I've worked on with the 70% alcohol. I covered the tile in small drops of a variety of colors. The ink doesn't spread much on these satin finish tiles.

So next I thinned the ink out with drops of alcohol from an eyedropper.

Then I used some canned air to spread the ink out. I kept dropping ink and alcohol and spraying the canned air until the tile was covered.

Then I used the eyedropper with almost no alcohol in it and sprayed it onto the tile to create this neat splattered/stippled effect. The ink seemed to react more sensitively to this tiny amount of alcohol when it was 90% alcohol than it did with 70%.

When I was done, I was left with two cool looking tiles that could easily be turned into coasters (just seal them with mod podge or clear sealer and put a little felt on the bottom). I also determined that, for the most part, 70% alcohol works just fine, but if you're doing a project where you want to really make the most of the effect the alcohol has on the ink, you might as well give the 90% alcohol a try (especially if you can find it for the same price).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Alcohol Ink Button Necklaces

In last week's post, I made some button pendants with some old mother of pearl buttons. While I was going through my stash of buttons, I found several mother of pearl wannabee buttons made with shiny plastic. And of course the first thought from someone who is addicted to alcohol ink: "I could ink that!"

I picked out some plastic buttons and drug out my craft mat and alcohol inks. I found out quickly that the flatter buttons worked the best, but that one with a recessed area for the buttonholes actually looked kind of neat in contrast. So you can probably make most buttons work. I also have a layer of craft foam between the wood and my felt on my homemade applicator, so I could press down firmly to get into some of the nooks and crannies.

I started out thinking I'd dye the buttons one color, or with a few related colors, but after my first pass with the applicator, I knew I wanted to add more colors. I dabbed ink on until I liked the way they looked.

Then I went and sprayed them with some glossy clear sealer to keep the ink from smearing or scratching off.

Then I turned them into some necklaces. I looped a couple of them through some beading cord to make single necklaces, and I tied knots in the cord to make a necklace with three buttons that had similar coloring.

My last remaining button I wrapped in wire like my project from last week. So get crafting with those old buttons--you've got lots of options.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Wire Wrapped Button Pendants

I acquired my grandmother's button collection when she moved into assisted living last year, and I've been trying to come up with creative ways to use them. There were quite a few mother of pearl buttons, so I wanted to try to turn them into some jewelry. The quickest way to do that was to wire a few up to make a simple pendant. I used this post from as a guide (she used a much thicker wire and jewelry making pliers in her tutorial).

I have no idea what kind of wire I have. I think I picked it up at Wal-mart several years ago. It's bends easily by hand (probably similar to this wire). It might not be the best for holding it's shape over the long term, but it did the trick for me as I don't have any pliers that don't leave grooves on the wire, so being able to make almost all of the bends by hand was convenient for me. Use whatever wire you've got available to use. Cut a piece that's 5-6 inches long. If your wire is less bendable, aim for closer to 5 inches (so you don't have as much to wrap around).

Thread your wire through one of your button holes. Leave a little over an inch coming out the back of the button and bend it so the rest comes out of the front of the button in a "U" shape.

Wrap the short tail of wire from the back of the button around the front tail of the wire. Try to get it relatively tight next to the button and then wrap until all of the wire has been used. I had to use a pliers to tuck the pointed end of the wire into the wrapped bundle to finish.

Then create a loop with the long tail of wire.

Hold the loop and wrap the excess wire around the spool you already created with the wire from the back of the button. Use a pliers again to tighten up the last piece to the bundled of wires when you're finished.

Then you can string them up on whatever cord or chain you like--quick and easy button pendants!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Etched Glass Valentine's Day Vase

On my last trip to Walmart, I picked up a couple of these inexpensive (97 cents) glass cylinder vases. I figured I could whip up some cute Valentine's Day decoration. After a little thought, I remembered I had a jar of Armour Etch in my craft stash that I hadn't used yet. I was itching to do an etching. So here goes nothing!

I gathered some contact paper (it doesn't need to be clear, but I keep the clear stuff around for covering books and what not), a sharp scissors, a foam brush, the armour etch, and the glass cylinders. You'll also need a covered surface to work on and some gloves (vinyl, dish gloves, etc...).

The last time I etched glass was for a 4-H project in junior high, so I knew I wanted to keep it simple. Also, I don't have a cutting machine (like cricut or silhouette) to make this process a snap. So, I went with a heart. I cut two pieces of contact paper about the length of the vases and stacked them on top of each other and folded them in half to cut out the heart. I cleaned them up a little with my scissors after I separated the two sheets, but cutting them on top of each other--stacked--allowed for them to be in the same spots on the contact paper and the same size so the two stencils would match. If you're not confident in your heart cutting abilities, print out a template from a web search and trace around it.

Next comes the hardest part of the project--no not getting the stupid paper to peel off the back of the contact paper, though that can sometimes be a pain--but getting the contact paper on to the vase, straight, without bubbles, and with the edges all securely in place. I found that applying the contact paper from left to right instead of from top to bottom worked better on this surface with this cut out. I lined the top edge of the contact paper along the top edge of the vase on both so the hearts would be oriented in pretty much the same place on each. Then I burnished the edge of the heart with my thumb nail (you could also use a spoon or plastic butter knife). If the edges aren't securely in place, the acid etch will bleed along the edge and you won't get a clean line.

After you're sure the stencils are securely in place, then you can start putting the goopy acid onto your project. I lined my kitchen sink with some foil and put a roll of foil in the center to keep the vases from rolling. If I was working with a flat project, I would probably just put down some parchment or a few layers of newspapers on the kitchen table. Make sure to wear gloves while applying the acid so you don't get burned by any drips. I used a foam brush to apply the armour etch, but you could also use a craft stick or piece of cardboard--it doesn't need to be super precise, just evenly spread.

After you have your design completely covered, let it sit. The jar doesn't give a set time, but other tutorials online estimated letting the cream set about 5 minutes. I set a timer after I had them completely covered. If you're working on a round surface like I was, check for drips to make sure that you don't accidentally etch uncovered parts of the vase.

After 5 minutes, rinse the acid off. Use your gloved hands to gently rub the acid cream off of the vase. Make sure you rinse all of the cream off  of your project. Leave the stencil on until you're certain all the armour etch has been rinsed off of the project. Wipe it dry and then peel away your contact paper.

This was a pretty quick and inexpensive project (especially if you already have a jar of armour etch in your craft supplies). The great thing about using the etching cream to make these is that unlike similar craft projects that use paint...this is permanent, won't scratch off, and can be washed (even in the dishwasher). I'm glad I got that jar of armour etch out of storage--it has inspired me to come up with more ways to use it.

Note: Glass etch creams like Armour Etch are acids--they can burn and damage surfaces--so be sure to read the label and protect yourself accordingly, and if you get it on anything you shouldn't--use lots of water to dilute it.