Have you ever been so frustrated with an art project that you just want to set fire to the whole thing? Well, the increasingly popular alcohol ink art movement allows you to do just that! The whole idea behind alcohol ink art is to blend colors, go abstract, and create lovely works of art — that you can then set fire to, in order to burn off the alcohol and evolve your work. Sounds like a blast, right?
There’s a reason alcohol ink art is growing in popularity. It is a fun, transformative product that provides some great freedom for playing with colors, textures, and layering. Even better, there’s a freeing feeling that comes with delving into alcohol ink art because it’s harder to control than more traditional paint like gouache or acrylic paint. It encourages you to go with the flow and see what happens, rather than rigidly controlling each brushstroke. As you may imagine, however, you can’t use just any old paper or canvas when working with alcohol ink.
Choosing Your Work Surface
Alcohol inks are fascinating because of their composition. As the name implies, the base component of these inks is alcohol-based. Alcohol inks are known for providing bold, vibrant colors which can be diluted down easily with a material that many of us have around the house: isopropyl alcohol. This gives you the freedom to play with layering colors, layering various levels of opacity, and so on. The world is your colorful oyster! If you’re still unsure what this will be like, think about professional-level watercolors, except they’re already liquid — they’re watercolors with a twist. They’re also made for splashing, sloshing, and dolloping to promote a more abstract, freeform art style that can be harder to control but provides impressive results.
The caveat to using alcohol inks is that, in order to provide the awesome properties that they do, they need to remain liquid. Working with traditional paper, cardstock, or even canvas isn’t going to do any harm, but it does mean you’ll be missing out on one of the best parts of playing with alcohol inks. If you really want to be able to play with the malleable, moveable, and unpredictable nature of these inks, you will want to choose a waterproof or otherwise non-absorptive material on which to create your art.
If you do a quick online search, you’ll see alcohol ink art on everything from glass to tiles to plastic soda bottles. When we said the world is your oyster, we really meant it! If the surface is waterproof and/or non-porous, you can probably create art on it using these inks. With watercolors, most artists will use watercolor-specific paper because it embraces the more natural flow of watercolors while helping control the color placement. Alcohol ink can dry quickly, depending on how much it’s been diluted with isopropyl alcohol, what the ambient temperature is, and (most importantly) what material you’re working on. They’re made to remain a bit fluid while you’re working with them, then dry quickly when heat (or fire) is applied — as a reminder, please don’t light alcohol inks on fire unless you’re using them on a surface that’s safe to do so, like glass.
Unlike watercolors, which are expected to dry fairly quickly, alcohol inks can remain semi-tacky for a few hours up to a full day. The perk is that it gives you more fluidity to create and alter over time. If you were to try to use these inks on watercolor paper, however, the absorbent nature of the paper would negate all the fun properties we’ve been discussing. Instead, you’ll want to look for paper that is smooth, non-absorbent, and waterproof. These qualities will give you a greater freedom to create, tweak, or even wipe and start over!
TerraSlate Alcohol Ink Paper
At TerraSlate, we create waterproof paper products to fit a wide range of needs. This includes everything from waterproof printer paper to waterproof adhesives and posters. And now, our lineup of waterproof paper products includes alcohol ink art paper! Our waterproof paper is, as the name suggests, entirely waterproof, not just water-resistant. This way, you can blend, blur, mix, and meld colors to your heart’s content. When you’re done, just let your work dry naturally or apply the heat of a hair dryer to speed the process along and tweak your art further! Since our paper is waterproof, you can also wipe it off and start with a clear, clean surface in just one spot or across the whole page. And, since our alcohol ink art paper is also tear-proof, you don’t have to worry about too many liquids wrecking it or affecting the integrity over time.