Monday, January 28, 2019

Alcohol Ink DIY Shrinky Dinks

I've made a few crafts over the years with shrink plastic, but I'm too cheap to buy the stuff in the store, so I make my own. I collect #6 plastic from bakery and deli containers, wash it off and save it for projects. I've even used alcohol ink on shrink plastic before, but that time, I waited until after the plastic had shrunk to ink it. I had always been curious if you could ink it before shrinking--so I set out to find out!

I was especially excited when I took the lid off the container holding my twice baked potatoes from the grocery store. For one, I got to eat delicious potatoes with my supper, but I was doubly excited when I found that the lid of the container was #6 plastic...AND...they accidentally put two lids on the container! It's funny the things crafters get excited about. So I rinsed off the plastic and cut out the flat center of the lid. You can shrink the ruffled/fluted edges too, but it's much harder to decorate and to get it to look like an even shape--but it does shrink flat. After I cut the flat center square of the lid out, I punched a hole in the plastic with a regular hole punch. The plastic on the recycled stuff shrinks to about a quarter the size, so I punched my hole about a half an inch from the top.

Then I used alcohol ink and canned air to decorate the plastic. I squirted ink on and blew it around the plastic until I liked the design. You will have to hold down the plastic when blowing it with air, though, since the plastic is so light. So, you will probably get ink on your hands--wear gloves if this bothers you.

I repeated the process with my other square of plastic, this time with oranges, pinks, and purples. I was fairly happy with my plastic squares, so I turned on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees and lined a small cookie sheet with some foil (to keep any ink off the pan and just in case it sticks a little).

I put my plastic squares on the pan and put a brush on the pan to help with scale. These squares were about 3.5 by 5 inches before shrinking.

Once the oven had preheated, I put my plastic squares in for 2 minutes and then checked them. They had curled up, but that's fairly normal early in the heating process. So I put them in for another 2 minutes and they were still curled. And another two minutes...which is the longest I had ever kept shrink plastic in the oven, and they were still curled. So I pulled them out of the oven. They were hard in seconds and the ink was muddy and turning dark in places. It was a total fail. I knew I had never shrunk plastic with alcohol ink on it, but I had shrunk plastic with sharpie ink on it, and it had worked fine. Sharpie ink is pretty similar to alcohol ink, so I didn't think it would be this big of a fail. But it occurred to me that the ink may still have been a bit wet....which meant that one side of the plastic was cooler than the other and created the curl when shrinking. forward a week to take two. I dug into my stash of saved #6 plastic and grabbed several squares that I could cut into pieces about the same sizes as the ones I had tried before. This time I also played around with the ink a bit by spreading it on with a foam brush--a technique I hadn't tried before, but that I will be using again in the future.

I set aside my pink inked plastic square to dry long enough that it wouldn't mix with ink that I dripped on top of it and I decided to go bold with some black ink. I dripped on the ink while dragging the tip across my plastic square. I waited a few seconds, and then I used the canned air to blow it around a bit. I was intentionally trying to be random, but it turned out sort of bird-like.

And just like on the first try, I decorated the rest by blowing ink around the square with the canned air until I liked the way it looked. After I finished inking 4 squares, I left them to dry--for real this time. I left them on my kitchen table while I watched TV for like an hour and a half. THEN I preheated the oven.

Just in case one of the contributing factors was that the ink side was facing up, I flipped the pink and orange one in the upper left over so that it was ink side down. Then I put them in the 350 degree oven for 2 minutes.

When I checked--they looked all curled up--but in different directions. I quickly closed the oven and started the timer again hoping things would straighten out this time.

After 4 minutes they were flat and I breathed a sigh of relief. The one that was ink side down was slightly smaller and muddled. Some of the ink transferred onto the tinfoil. So that one didn't quite work out. But, I learned that as long as you let the ink dry all the way, you can totally shrink plastic that has alcohol ink on it.

After the plastic cooled, I decided to seal my plastic squares with some aluminum foil tape. I've been using this tape to seal my glass gems decorated with alcohol ink lately. It is faster than using a spray or paint on sealer and has the added benefit of providing a shimmery background for the ink that makes it pop!

So I cut the tape to the size of the plastic square and pealed the paper backing off and stuck it on the side that I had decorated with the ink. Then I used a toothpick to poke a hole in the foil tape. I used some hemp cording to turn these squares into necklaces, but they'd make great key chains too.

So, if you're going to try alcohol ink on shrink plastic--recycled or store bought--be sure it's dry before trying to shrink!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Glazed Alcohol Ink Washers: Testing Three Types of Glaze

Last week on the Blog, I decorated some washers with alcohol ink and used fire to mix and set the ink. This week, I decided to use 3 different dimensional glue glazes side by side to see which ones worked the best on washers with alcohol ink. I've tried glazing alcohol ink washers in the past with mixed results, but the glues are a lot more convenient (less toxic and clean up with water) and less expensive than resin, so I keep trying to figure out how to get them to work better.

The head to head to head challenge will face Judikin's Diamond Glaze against Mod Podge's Dimensional Magic and Ranger's Glossy Accents. Before the test, I gave a thin coat of regular mod podge to each washer to keep the glaze from interacting with the alcohol ink and giving the washers all the same surface to test on.

I started with the Glossy Accents. The first time I tried this gloss/glaze/glue out, it reacted with the alcohol ink a bit and the glaze turned a bit pink. I hoped that the mod podge would solve that problem. So I carefully squeezed a ring of glue onto the washer. I ended up going around the washer with the glue twice. It was not quite up to the edge, so I used a toothpick to push the glaze out toward the edge of the washer. If you push past the edge, the glue will run off the washer. As it did with the one closes to the front in the photo above.

With all of these glues use the following techniques: Do not shake the bottle--it makes bubbles. Do not pick the tip of the glue bottle up repeatedly while gluing. Try to glue it all in one stream if possible to create fewer bubbles. If there are bubbles, pop the larger ones with a toothpick and you can use a lighter to help pop smaller ones. But don't pop bubbles after the glue has started to dry--whether with a toothpick or a lighter, popping the bubbles halfway through drying will leave dents and divots in your glue. And as I mentioned above, be careful pushing the glue up to the edge of any surface, if the surface tension is breached, it will run off of the surface and the dimensional effect will be lost.

Next up was the Diamond Glaze. This mixture is a lot thinner than the Glossy Accents and has a larger nozzle (though you can buy a smaller bottle with a smaller nozzle that might work better). The thinner glue means it runs off the washer a bit more easily and had more bubbles in it. The larger nozzle meant that I only had to ring the washer with glue once.

The last one I tried was the Dimensional Magic. I had problems with this one running off the washer when I first tried it, so I was conservative with the amount I squeezed on the washer and that helped a lot. Like the Glossy Accents, it had a small nozzle, and I had to go around the washer twice to get close to enough glue. Then I used the toothpick again to push it out to the edge.

The Dimensional Magic was the thickest and had the least bubbles, so I ended up using it on the last 4 washers. You can see how it wasn't quite out to the edge at first, but I pushed it out as best as I could without getting it close enough to break the edge and run off.

In the end, I had one of the Diamond Glaze and one of the Glossy Accent washers run off the edge. I thought that, overall, the Dimensional Magic worked best for this application. Thicker glue with a thin nozzle seems to be the best option.

This was the washer that had Glossy Accents on it that ran off the edge. It was the only one of the washers that totally didn't turn out. The glue also managed to take some of the ink with it as it ran off even after sealing the washer with mod podge.

The rest pretty much all looked like this (above), regardless of which brand it came from. Application of the glues was different, but the outcome was not significantly different. Because the Diamond Glaze's thin consistency was tricky for the smooth edge-less washers and the Glossy Accents has a tendency to react with the alcohol ink, I'd pick Dimensional Magic for future alcohol ink on washers projects. With all of the glues, I'd recommend putting on less than you think you'll need to avoid the glue running off the washer.

In the end, I had a bunch of great sealed washers. I strung up a few of them with some wooden macrame beads that my mom had lying around and gave to me over Christmas. They had holes large enough to string the faux suede cording through and worked great. Is there a glaze/glue I should try? I didn't have any Aileen's Paper Glaze on hand to compare--but I have tried it before. Is it worth getting more?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flamed Alcohol Ink Washers

My dad gave me a bunch of washers from his garage stash for Christmas, so I just had to ink some of them! I thought I'd try out a new technique. Most of the time when I use alcohol ink on washers, I use a felt stamper (tutorial for stamped washers). But recently, I've been on a flamed ink kick. It works the best on larger surfaces like ceramic tiles, but I managed to make it work on some glass gems, so I figured it might be worth a try on washers.

So I set up my flamed ink station--teflon craft mats on the table (mostly for ink splatters--but they are heat safe too), a cork trivet, and then a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil. I set up my alcohol inks and rubbing alcohol on the other end of the table and only bring my colors I'm using over to the pan when I drip the ink onto the washer, then I set it aside away from the flame. I use a long handled lighter to set the ink on fire.

I dripped some blue ink (sailboat blue) on the washers first. I just swirled it around each washer.

Then when I held the flame over each, it spread the ink out and made it set. The ink doesn't really flame on the washers unless you put a lot of ink on them, so the flame spreads it out and dries the ink, but doesn't really catch.

I continued by adding purple (twilight purple) and green (clover) to the washers and flaming them.

I finished the washers by adding a little bright pink (raspberry) and then using a tiny paint brush dipped in rubbing alcohol to smooth the ink up to the edges of the washer. And then I used the brush to break apart some of the bigger sections of ink with drops of rubbing alcohol (the lighter circles of ink are from drops of rubbing alcohol).

Be careful of putting too many colors on the washer all at once. My first attempt sort of failed because I put a bunch of colors on and lit the washer on fire (with actual flames from all of the ink). As I continued to try to break the colors up, it just turned into a black sticky blob of ink. Fortunately, I was able to clean them off with some rubbing alcohol and a napkin and start over.

As long as you go one or two colors at a time and don't use too much ink, these turned out really bright and beautiful! I can't wait to seal them up and turn them into necklaces!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Best of the Blog: 2018

It's been a big year for the blog! We crossed the 1 million view mark and established a new domain name ( The blog also now has Instagram and Tumblr accounts. So it seems even more appropriate this year to reflect on some of the most popular and successful posts from the past year.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts

#1 The most popular (most visited) craft post this year by a large margin was my alcohol ink splatter gem project. My alcohol ink projects lead the charge this year, and this one was the big winner. I had a ton of fun painting and using canned air to create these beauties (as opposed to the usual stamping method). 

#2 Was a flamed alcohol ink project. I tried this new technique out on a glass plate fairly early in the year. I love how setting the alcohol ink on fire creates vivid color and mixes the ink in new and interesting ways. After I was done flaming this plate, I even sealed it with dishwasher safe mod podge so I could actually use the plate (since the ink and mod podge are on the back of the plate).

#3 This year's 3rd most popular post was more glass gems. This time, I set the ink on fire. I tried this technique out on a variety of surfaces, but the flat marble/glass gems are always really popular. They made for some great pins and necklaces!

#4 The 4th most popular post this year was foil backed alcohol ink plastic charms. Backing glass and plastic alcohol ink projects with foil tape makes the ink stand out and creates a really pretty metallic shimmer. I've started backing most of my glass gems with the stuff, so I figured why not try the plastic charms.

#5 The 5th most popular post from this past year was another flamed alcohol ink project. This time it was beautiful bright colors on square candle holders. I loved trying out new and different ways to apply the flamed ink technique last year, and I can't wait to try even more in the new year!

Honorable Mentions

Coming in at 7th in the post popularity contest, is our first honorable mention--rubber cement resist tile. I used rubber cement as a resist on a ceramic tile decorated with alcohol ink. It was an experiment that totally worked. I discovered there isn't an easy way to control the glue, but if you're not trying to control it, it creates a really neat effect!

Next up in my honorable mentions were two posts that were also just outside of the popularity contest. I created 2 Beginner's guides to alcohol ink stamping posts this year. They came in at 6th and 8th in the popularity contest, so I thought I'd feature them together. One covers the basics of stamping one color at a time on ceramic tiles and the other mixes colors and media. I get a lot of questions about alcohol ink stamping, so these posts were a ton of fun to make!

In case anyone has forgotten, I do make stuff that doesn't use alcohol ink from time to time. One of my favorite projects was galaxy spray paint. I made several projects this year where I tried my hand at using spray paint to make galaxy patterns. It was so much fun that I tried the method out on notebooks, boxes, candle holders, and even Easter eggs.

My next honorable mention was a washi tape project. I can't believe I hadn't ever thought of combining two of my favorite things: dollar store altar candles and washi tape. The results were some very cute candles!

Last up for honorable mentions was a series of posts I did late in the year (so not really in the running for popularity since they haven't been up very long) to test the three most popular types of blending solutions for alcohol ink. I compared rubbing alcohol, Ranger blending solution, and Pinata extender to each other using three different techniques: splatter, stamping, and swirl. In the process, I got more familiar with the different types of blenders and made some cute tiles, even coming up with a new technique in the end (on the swirl project I discovered while cleaning up that napkins created a unique texture in alcohol ink).