DIY Alcohol Inks

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DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

If you work with mixed media or love to make pages in your art journal, then you’ll know that alcohol inks are perfect for staining and adding transparent color. I generally use them with stencils and also for adding aged effects and subtle shading effects to both paper and fabric.

Although I do have a small collection of alcohol inks that I’ve purchased, it always seems that I never have quite the right color when I need it. So I’ve been making my own alcohol inks for years after watching a video I found on Youtube (scroll down to the bottom of this article to view the video) which shows you just how easy it is to make your own inks using cheap felt tipped markers and rubbing alcohol.

During this last month I’ve been working on a new sewing project and I needed some new ink colors, so the timing is perfect to once again share this tutorial with you. I’ve used the inks on these fabric journal pages to add some dark stains.

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

How to Make Your Own Alcohol Inks

I visited the dollar store and found some felt tipped markers and some small spray bottles. I don’t generally use alcohol inks as a spray however I found some small spray bottles of hand sanitizer which were the perfect size to use for the inks so I removed the hand sanitizer and cleaned the bottles. Using these type bottles gives me the option of using the inks as a spray, with a dropper, or to pour onto a piece of sponge to use as a stain. And of course you need some rubbing alcohol.

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

I pulled the markers apart and removed the inked section, then soaked the pieces in the rubbing alcohol …

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

… and ended up with a nice selection of colors which were really quite vivid.

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

I tested one of the colors on a piece of fabric paper using a stencil.

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

It added a lovely subtle design to the surface.

DIY Alcohol Ink: How to make your own alcohol inks

If you’re going to try this, the only thing I would add – and I don’t recall hearing it on the video – is that rubbing alcohol is highly flammable so keep it away from flames. And if spraying alchol ink I would also suggest using it in a well-ventilated area or even wearing a mask because inhaling the overspray is not good for your health. Otherwise it works a treat! Go try it!

If you’re not up to making your own, you can always stock up from Amazon

15 thoughts on “DIY Alcohol Inks”

  1. Thanks for this tutorial, I really liked and as always your projects are inspiring. I’ll have to try your method for creating Alcohol inks. Thanks again, I pinned this tutorial on pinterest !

  2. A great tutorial. Do you know where you can purchased the alcohol in the UK, or if it has a different name?

    1. Linda Matthews

      I really don’t know, however if you do a search on for rubbing alcohol you might some information that is helpful.

  3. Wonderful tutorial Alcohol inks are so expensive in Australia . Going to the $2 shop today for the pens as I already have the spirit/alcohol

    Did you intend the stencil to be soft in colour ? Maybe less alcohol will make the brew stronger and the colours stronger too?
    Thanks for this great idea

    1. Linda Matthews

      Inks are translucent so they will never provide a truly strong color and I use them for shading and adding highlighted color for which they are perfectly suited. If you want a stronger color, then you would need to use paint.

    2. I’ve been using Jan’s recipe for years, with rubbing alcohol, less than AU$10 from the chemist. Once you are set up with the first batch, its very easy to make custom colours and they last for a long time, even through our Aussie summers! I also use Jan’s other recipes from her book which is a free download on her website. Its a gold-mine of cheap alternatives to the expensive brand names.

  4. Great idea. Using Vodka would make it expensive I would think even if you bought a cheap brand; waste of vodka some might say haha. Would it work with acrylic ink and alcohol do you think? As some acrylic inks are cheap. I could always try it.
    Anne x

    1. Might return the rubbing alcohol then and go with the sanitisers. It saves having to buy bottles too but I haven’t seen any with sprays.

  5. Linda, hand sanitiser is rubbing alcohol! I buy those in packs of three from our pound stores and just add the ink colour in the same way….instant alcohol ink sprays. The hand sanitiser loses it’s gel quality once mixed with the ink.

  6. Yes I tried it with the hand santizer and the cheap felt pens for the ink and then I ran out of felt pens for my next batch – we live in far rural NSW Australia and cant run t the corner shopping mall every day. So I looked around and found cake colourings and used a few drops of them Yes there is a definite difference in the effect as the cakes colours are more vibrant but then I had mixed them with no recipe just trial and error So now I have two sets of papers, the soft translucent felt pen inks and the smack in your face cake colours It pays too experiment with what you have on hand

  7. Hello my friends! To work with silk cloth and allow to dry, dilute with pure Alcohol! Greetings from gemany

  8. Thanks for pointing out about ventilation and not using near flame. I was thinking much the same thing. Good idea re the food colouring – sometimes a splash of bright is great.

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