The Peacock, How To: An Alcohol Ink Technique

The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it.  The more technique there is, the less there is.

~ Pablo Picasso

I have had several readers asking about the picture on my blog header.  Nope, it’s not a stock photo from somewhere, it’s not some random image I found on the internet.

It’s a wonderful large work of Christopher’s.

We were exploring some fun techniques using aluminum foil (he loves to work with metal in much of his artwork).  We were using foil to make impressions of some hand-carved stamps, and he started digging around in my stash of Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol Inks.

Now, I can dig around in Chris’s stash of alcohol inks.

So, anywho, he took over my alcohol inks, and started playing with them to color the foil.  Chris has a love for all fluid dynamics, and the inks really do enable that love, as well as his love of color.  One of the properties that he has gotten great at exploiting is how the alcohol inks push color around.  Because the aluminum foil is not very absorbent, when you drop the ink onto the foil, it sort of just sits on top of the foil for a short time before the color “stays” in place.

The other thing he figured out how to exploit is the way the colors move with each other.  When you put a second drop of color onto the first drop, some colors will blend a bit and make a mud color.  Other colors will seem to “push” the original drop of color out to the border of the circle, leaving the second color in the center of the circle.  You can add more colors as you go as long as you get a feel for which colors react which ways with which other colors.  Whew…

The Process

1. Chris glued a piece of aluminum foil to a board, he used a piece of masonite.  He used Mod Podge and a brayer, to mitigate and smash out most of the wrinkles.

2. After that was dry, he scattered drops of alcohol ink around onto the foil, starting with the blues and purples, leaving lots of space between the drops.

3. Then he grabbed the lighter colors to fill in the space between, as well as splattering it onto the darker original drops of color (while all of the ink is still wet).

4. At this point, he allowed the inks to dry a bit, just dry to the touch.

5. Then he randomly went over with drops of color that he felt a need to grab, colors that he thought were missing.  When it hit the dry ink spots, the alcohol ink reactivated and started dissolving, leaving dark rings around the color.

6. He only used four colors: purple, blue, red, and green.  All of the yellows and oranges were a result of how the blue ink and the green ink mixed.  That would bring out yellow, and if any red was near, it would turn deep orange.  It was a surprising and very satisfying effect.

7. After all of the ink had cured and wasn’t sticky (about three days), he used his trusty cake machete and spread on a generous top coat of Liquitex Gloss Super Heavy Gel, allowing whatever texture appeared, and not really trying for any texture or smoothness in particular.  The texture was very subtle, and the high gloss on the top flashed so that you wouldn’t see what was under it in direct light.

The black "speckles" in the blue and the streaks are texture from the application of the gel, not the foil.

8.  So he rubbed it with lamp black (Chris actually used soot from the furnace, but you could used black PanPastel), which matted it a bit and revealed the very subtle texture in the gel.

8. Final touch was a light spraying of clear poly urethane as a fixative.


Prompt: The Adirondack alcohol inks have so many fun and unusual applications.  Do you use them?  What’s your favorite technique??

9 thoughts on “The Peacock, How To: An Alcohol Ink Technique

  1. Great post! I’ve never used alcohol inks either, now I’m tempted. Just wondering where I could store any more supplies. I think maybe I need to use up some stuff first.
    Ever since I first saw your blog I’ve loved that header picture.
    Big love

  2. Pingback: Project Create: Day 15 (Color!) « yearoflivingcraftily

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