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Alcohol InksI admit it: I'm a tad compulsive. I like to have things just right. You know the little holder for whiteboard markers? I always have to have all the markers facing the same way, all the logos lined up, with the colors in a certain order (ROYGBIV, of course). I can always tell if someone's been using my markers. My husband occasionally calls me Mr. Monk (love that show, BTW).

Alcohol inks work great with polymer clay, and they're a lot of fun. One of the best things about alcohol inks is that if you don't like the results, you can wipe it off or add another color for a completely differently look. Of course, if you're compulsive like me, that's also one of the bad things about alcohol inks -- it's sometimes hard to stop tweaking and re-trying!

What You Need

You just need a few basics for working with alcohol inks:
  • alcohol inks
  • felt or applicator tool
  • alcohol blending solution
  • gloves

Note: I hate gloves -- but to me, this is one time when they're worth the trouble. Alcohol inks can really stain your fingers! The alcohol blending solution isn't totally essential, but it gives you a lot more options with the inks. Plus it's good for cleaning the stray inks off your fingers (or carpet -- oops!).

How To Do It

While alcohol inks can be used on either unbaked or baked polymer clay, I prefer working with it on baked clay so I'm less likely to mess up my clay piece.
  1. Put a drop of alcohol ink on a felt applicator, or directly on your clay piece. You have about a minute before it dries to spread it around, mix it with other colors, etc.
  2. If the ink dries before you're ready, add a drop of blending solution. This allows you to continue spreading and blending colors. The blending solution's also useful if you get one color too strong and want to lighten or remove it.
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 to add as many different colors as you want.

The basics are really that easy! But as you start to play, you'll see just how versatile the inks can be.


Here's a few variations you might want to try:
  • Single Color Ink heartSingle Ink Color: Try using just one color of alcohol ink. I think it's beautiful with the mottled shades it naturally creates -- but you could add more drops for a more even coverage.
  • Multi Color Un-blended HeartMultiple Ink Colors without Blending: You can spread and mix the colors without blending solution to retain more vibrant, unique colors.
  • Multi Color Blended HeartMultiple Ink Colors with Blending: I often spread blending solution on the clay before I add the first drop of color. This allows the colors to bleed and blend from the start -- preventing spots of too-concentrated color.
  • Painted HeartPainting with Inks: Can you tell that the heart is a little more red than the surrounding areas on this sample? (Don't worry if you can't -- this technique works better & is much more obvious with a larger design.) You can cut small pieces of felt to add specific colors to specific areas. Would be great for "painting" a larger stamp or image transfer.
  • Liquid Clay Heart with Random InksKato Liquid Polyclay Base with Random Inks: Kato Liquid Polyclay works great with alcohol inks. In this case, I spread a thin coat of liquid clay then dropped the ink colors on top and let them bleed and blend on their own. While I wasn't crazy about the dark pool of colors in the middle, I totally love the tie-dye effect on the edges. An idea to play with...
  • Liquid Clay Heart with Pre-Mixed InkInks Pre-Mixed with Kato Liquid Polyclay: You can pre-mix your liquid clay and alcohol inks for more predictable results. I keep my color mixtures in a little plastic paint holder with snapping lids (ya know, like they used to include with Paint by Numbers kits).
  • Glazed HeartGlazed: I used Glossy Accents dimensional glaze to add a coat of shine -- it really seems to add depth to the finished piece.

I hope you'll give alcohol inks a try. They really are a lot of fun, and these examples are just the beginning of the various effects you can achieve.

Course, if you're compulsive like me, be very careful. You may be tweaking forever!


Love the directions and the end product. I'm so glad that I will have my very own to keep and see your beautiful work for a long time... Keep up the great work!

Thanks, Linda -- can't wait to see what you did for our little swap. Take care!

Thanks for the info! I just bought some alcohol inks. I can't wait to have some fun!

If I were wanting to make a black button with white polka dots, would this work, or are these more like stains than actual paint? THANKS!

Brenda, Alcohol inks are definitely more stain-like than paint-like, so you would have difficulty making polka dots this way. I would recommend either using polymer clay (small balls of white clay) or white acrylic paint. Both of those methods would be much easier to control.

Can you use alcohol inks on metal?If you do, do you have to cover the finished piece with some sealant? Thanks. Mavis

I'm a liner-upper, too. I love Monk. haha

I found your site while searching to see if alcohol inks could be used on polymer clay. I am a new follower (e-mail and feed).

I think this looks like lot of fun. Thanks for sharing this information!

I have been using FIMO and alcohol inks. After I use the inks the polymer clay seems to be softer, it becomes pliable. Anyone know why this is?

Hmm, Sarah, I haven't experienced that, but I'm also not a Fimo gal. I suppose it's possible the alcohol inks could be reacting with the clay, but a reaction usually manifests as a sticky surface, not a change in the flexibility of the clay. Many polymer clay brands are pliable after baking -- I assume you're talking about something out of the normal range? Are you using the inks on raw or cured clay? Have you tested to make sure your oven is baking at the proper temperature? Sorry I don't have answers... but maybe someone else will jump in.

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CraftyGoat's Notes is all about sharing polymer clay tips & tricks that have worked for me. (And even a few that haven't!)

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