Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Ways to Use Alcohol Ink

Continuing on last week's theme of alcohol ink . . .

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Ways to Use Alcohol Ink

1. Faux Stones
Many faux stones (jade, agate, opal, etc.) look best if they're somewhat translucent, but most require some source of color. You can use small pinches of colored clay, but another option is alcohol ink. Because the inks are transparent and vividly colored, they're a natural choice for faux stone recipes. Of course, you can use ink-tinted clay for any other technique you like, as well.

2. Mokume Gane
As I mentioned in (I think) the first of these "lists of ten", you can use alcohol ink in mokume gane with lovely results. Put the ink on sheets of translucent clay in any way you like-- drop different colors and let them bleed together, brush or dab it over the whole surface for a more uniform look, and so on. Let the inks dry before layering the sheets of clay, then proceed through your favorite mokume gane technique. (For a different look, try layering metal leaf between layers of alcohol ink-tinted translucent clay.)

3. Multi-colored Metal Leaf
Composition gold or silver metal leaf are beautiful on their own, but if you'd like to spice things up a bit, you can tint them with alcohol ink. (Alcohol ink will add brilliant color but its translucency will allow the metallic look of the leaf to shine through.) Because the leaf it so delicate, I suggest first adhering the leaf to a clay base. Once it's been smoothed down to your satisfaction, apply the ink in any way you prefer. Let the ink dry thoroughly before proceeding. Metal leaf, whether inked or not, needs to be sealed lest it rub off the cured clay. You can seal it with any clay-friendly finish (Future, Varathane, etc.), or you can protect it with a layer of liquid clay or a very thin layer of regular translucent clay. (There's at least one project that uses alcohol ink on metal leaf in Donna Kato's new book. One great technique among many in that book.) You can also use your tinted metal leaf in mokume gane or crackle it.

4. Ink as Paint
Use alcohol inks to paint on raw clay. They work similarly to watercolors, but because they are alcohol-based, they'll dry very quickly. Thin the inks (and extend your working time) with either extender or plain rubbing alcohol. You can either cover the whole surface or leave some untouched, depending on the look you want. If you paint on a sheet of translucent clay, you can apply the dried sheet (painted side down) to another sheet of clay, encasing the inks. Viewed through the translucent clay, your painting will be softened, but still visible. (See Donna Kato's new book for more on this technique.) You can also seal in the painting with a thin layer of liquid clay or a clay-friendly varnish. (Actually, I'm not sure if it's absolutely necessary to seal alcohol inks at all, but my instinct says it's probably best to do so, especially for something that will be handled or worn. If the piece ever comes in contact with rubbing alcohol, for instance, the color might come off.)

5. Ink as Stain
Stain is thinner than paint. Generally, you can still see some of the original color of a piece after it's been stained. Create interesting effects by using alcohol inks as a stain for cured clay. Apply the ink straight from the bottle for darker color or soften the effect with rubbing alcohol or alcohol ink "extender" or "blending solution" (a product manufactured by the same company that makes the inks). You can also make stains by mixing alcohol ink with Varathane or Future (for a shinier finish). These thin washes of color can be applied in as many layers as you like to gradually build up color on a cured piece. (Be sure to store any leftover "stain" in a tightly lidded container.)

6. Faux Ceramics
I've written about this before. ;o) There are several tutorials online for a variety of faux ceramic finishes. Since the last time I wrote about this subject, I've found yet another version in Ellen Marshall's Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes (pg. 94-97). The essentials of most faux ceramics are as follows: 1) Make a patterned or textured shape in polymer clay (usually white); 2) Apply a glaze of liquid clay that's been tinted with alcohol ink; and 3) Cure. Here are the tutorials I've found so far: Parole de Pâte version, Christy Sherman's version, and my version.

7. Tinted Transfers
Transform plain black toner transfers with the addition of alcohol ink. (Use them as watercolors, as described in number six.) You can blend them-- or layer them, allowing time for each color to dry between applications. It's best to seal the painted transfer. Use a thin sheet of translucent clay, a coat of liquid clay, or your favorite finish. (Or use the encased toner transfer method I mentioned in the previous item-- the one from Donna Kato's new book. You can also learn about similar methods at Glass Attic.)

8. Faux Stained Glass
With a few products, you can have the beauty of stained glass with much less fuss than real stained glass requires. There are different ways to do it, but essentially, you make your "leading" from regular polymer clay (usually black), pre-cure it, then fill in the "cells" with tinted liquid clay and re-cure. In this tutorial, Barbara Poland-Waters teaches you to make tile beads with a stained glass theme. And in this project by Ann and Karen Mitchell, the faux stained glass is applied to a real glass vase. (Note that in that project, the Mitchells use oil paint to tint the liquid clay. However, there's no reason why you can't use alcohol ink instead. Alcohol inks will increase the translucency of your clay, giving you the look of translucently colored glass.) Faux stained glass would make beautiful sun catchers.

9. Miniature Food
I've mentioned before that alcohol inks are a great product for getting translucent color in liquid clay. Consider alcohol ink for anything that requires color but a certain degree of translucency-- such as maple syrup, soup, and some sugary glazes.

10. Faux Cloisonné / Enamel
Yet another technique combining alcohol ink with liquid clay! Tint the liquid clay and use it to fill in "cells" in a variety of surfaces. Try it with deeply textured clay (raw or cured). For a metallic shine that takes full advantage of the clarity of the liquid clay, line the clay base with metal leaf-- or go over it with a leafing pen. If you prefer, you can combine it with the thicker embossing foil that's available in most craft stores.

And there are other polymer clay techniques that use alcohol ink, too. (You may find some on this page of Glass Attic.) Overall, these inks are a great "extra" to have on your clay table.

Since next Tuesday is Christmas, I'll be taking a week off from Ten on Tuesday. (And with any luck, soon afterwards things will calm down enough that I'll be posting here more than once a week. (g))

In case I don't "see" you all before then, let me wish you Christmas that's merry and bright! :o)

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