Dripped Alcohol Ink on White Coffee Mugs

Last year, I bought some plain white mugs from Big Lots and I've had some fun figuring out new ways to ink them. My first project was a beachy drip project where I used aqua alcohol ink and rubbing alcohol to thin it and make it look like water. My second mug project used the plastic wrap method of ink application. As I was digging through my craft stash, I found another pair of mugs and decided to revisit the drip technique from my first project but with some shades of purple.

So I got out my craft mat, three shades of purple alcohol ink  (purple twilight, eggplant, and passion purple), and some gold ink. I also grabbed a small jar with a little bit of rubbing alcohol and a pipette.

I started by drip/drawing a line of ink onto my mug and turning the mug to allow the ink to run and dry as I went. I connected the line so that it made a ring all the way around the mug.

I turned the mug to try to connect the lines of  ink as they flowed around the mug. After my first line, I decided I liked the contrast of the dark purple against the white mug and the ink was flowing well enough to get nice lines around the mug, so I opted not to thin the ink with the rubbing alcohol. I used the rubbing alcohol I put in the jar to clean up instead.

I added another shade of purple and tried to let the ink flow in a controlled, but artistic fashion around the mug. Sometimes it branched off a bit from where I intended it to go (see the above photo). I used those branches as places to cross over the alcohol ink lines.

I added two more lines of purple so that I had about an inch of wavy lines around both mugs. 

Then I started adding my gold over the top. The gold ink flows a bit more freely than the regular alcohol ink (but the pinata colors flow more slowly than ranger ink), so I carefully guided the lines across my existing purple lines and created loops where I thought it needed them.

After I felt like the design was all connected together and looked good, I let it dry for a little bit.

Then I grabbed a can of Kamar Varnish and sprayed the ink design on the mugs to set them. If I decided to use these as pen mugs, they are good to go, but if I want to use them as drinking mugs, I'll need to seal the ink with dishwasher safe mod podge. The gold alcohol ink is made with metal particles, so don't put it in the microwave.

These free form drip designs are a ton of fun to make. You can let the ink sort of go where it wants to, and you can kind of guide it along to create a pattern. You have some control, but it still does it's own thing. I can't wait to try this method again!


  1. I NEVER leave comments on posts but, your mugs look fantastic and I've been looking for the best way to seal alcohol inks on ceramic mugs and so far it's been a bust. I've got 2 mugs with a week old design that I'm scared to try to seal because I don't want them to bleed. Did you use the Kamar sealer before the Mod Podge (not a lot of luck with Mod Podge so far)? How many coats did you spray?

    1. Yes, I sealed them with kamar varnish first and dishwasher safe mod podge. Truth be told, though, I haven't used them to drink out of yet. The metallic ink makes them not microwave safe and the mod podge works ok, but is probably not great for regular trips through the washer. So they've been sitting in my Buffet with my fancy dishes. I have no idea how people seal these for regular use.


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