Substrates for Alcohol Ink Painting
What can I paint on with alcohol inks?
Alcohol inks are meant to be used on non-porous surfaces, so regular old paper is out. Not to worry; there are many other options available.
Inkssentials™ Surfaces Artist Trading Cards (Glossy White)
– pre-cut 2.5″ x 3.5″ ATCs (20 per package). More info here. I have seen these at Michaels, but I bought a few packs from Amazon.com, where they were a little cheaper.
Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Ink Cardstock
– this is what I started out with. I found the paper (4.5″ x 5.5″, 20 sheets per package) at Michaels. It was fairly inexpensive and seemed a good enough quality/size to experiment with.
– I can’t remember where I bought these, but I have several varieties – white, clear, and black. They are pretty much the same thing as Shrinky Dinks, which you can now find at most craft stores. I have actually not tried alcohol inks with these yet, so it’s on the list to do ASAP. I’ll update soon in a blog post.
Inkssentials™ Gloss Paper
– same type of paper as 1 and 2 above. Mine is 12″ x 12″ and was purchased online at Amazon.com. More info here.
Inkssentials™ Memory Glass™
– another substrate I have yet to try, but I purchased 2″ x 2″ and microscope slide sized glass at Michaels. More info here. I did try alcohol inks on a piece of glass from a small picture frame. I wouldn’t say it was a “failed attempt”, but I wasn’t thrilled with the result at the time. This is also on the to-do list, so I’ll be sure to blog about it whenever I am able to try alcohol inks on glass again.
Yupo® Synthetic Paper
– Yupo is my holy grail for alcohol ink painting. This synthetic paper is waterproof and tear-free. It has a satiny sort of finish – not terribly glossy. It is non-porous as all substrates for alcohol ink painting must be. Yupo is used by watercolor artsists as well. It can be purchased in 9″ x 12″ and 11″ x 14″ pads (10 sheets per pad) or in large, individual sheets that are 20″ x 26″. You can read more about Yupo paper here. I recommend that you purchase Yupo online, unless you get lucky and your local art supply or craft store has it for a decent price. My local art supply store carries Yupo, but the price is astronomical. Why pay $20-30 per pad when MisterArt.com offers the same thing for between $10-14? Individual large sheets are a couple of bucks there, as opposed to $5-6 per sheet at the art supply store. So far, I have only used white Yupo, but I believe I saw it on Amazon in clear. That could be interesting. Amazon’s pricing is a little higher for the pads, but still fairly reasonable, compared to local retailers. I have not seen Yupo in craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
Acetate / Grafix® Clear-Lay™
– I bought a package of Grafix Clear-Lay a few years ago when I was going to submit artwork to Art-o-mat® (which I still haven’t done – jeez!) I have seen several articles and videos on using alcohol inks on acetate but have yet to try it. On the list.
– if you are the crafty type, you may want to try your hand at making jewelry or assemblage pieces with alcohol inks. It seems like that is the most popular use of the inks, in fact. I have seen many instances where alcohol inks are used on dominoes, for one reason or another. Here’s an example.
– Ampersand Claybord is made if 1/8″ artist hardboard and coated with kaolin clay ground. I have done two alcohol ink paintings on Claybord. I wasn’t happy with the paintings, but it was not because of the substrate I used. It was definitely different than working on non-porous papers, but it was still very smooth and interesting to try. I just didn’t really like my actual paintings. I have a couple more pieces of Claybord and will try it again soon. This is a more expensive alternative to paper, especially if you use cradled Claybord, but it definitely makes for handsome presentation. Did I just say “handsome presentation”? Wow. Anyway, check out the work of Jeanne Rhea, who does some really amazing work with alcohol inks on this substrate!
Metal Embossing/Tooling Sheets
– unfortunately, when I took this photo for my substrates diagram, I could not find a blank/unused sheet of metal, although I am sure I have one around here somewhere. 🙁 So what you see (and not clearly either – sorry about that) for #10 is a piece that I created by embossing a dragon on a copper sheet and then applying alcohol inks on top of that. MercArt makes various metal sheets (and embossing tools, etc.), which are available in most craft stores and readily available online at most of the places I have linked to already. Here are some others I haven’t tried. And more.
OTHER, not pictured:
- Altoid (or other) metal tins
- glass sheets or blocks
- polymer clay
- ceramic tiles
- glass, porcelain or plastic ornaments
- wax paper and aluminum foil
A note about painting and sealing ceramic tiles:
I am probably asked most often about this, and I just have to tell you – while I have painted a handful of tiles, I do not like working on them; therefore, I don’t do it. Therefore, I don’t know how to seal them. Do some Googling, and you will find some answers. There are Facebook groups for alcohol ink painters with a lot of information on what different people use to seal alcohol ink paintings on ceramic tiles.