An Absolute Beginners Alcohol Ink Tutorial

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About: I am a geeky kid who loves drawing, dancing, gymnastics, rabbits, and creating just about anything!! :D

Hi Ya'll!!

Just this Christmas I learned about alcohol inks and I can't believe how much I've been missing out on. They. Are. Incredible. And super fun, too!

This tutorial is perfect for an ABSOLUTE beginner to follow to get used to using the inks and getting comfortable with their unique properties. The steps are very easy and are flexible enough that you can experiment with your own metal tree and make it your own.

In this Instructable I'll be showing you how to make an Alcohol Ink Christmas Tree - Beginner Style! Using the alcohol inks rather than traditional paint or markers gives the tree an abstract, marbled effect that is near impossible to create any other way!

Step 1: Supplies

The supplies needed are:

  • Thin Sheet Metal (I got a roll pretty cheap at the local hardware store a few years back and honestly can't remember what it's actual use it, but its perfect for crafts)
  • Alcohol (not the kind to drink! lol)
  • Alcohol Blending Solution
  • Paintbrushes
  • Small Mister for the Alcohol
  • Alcohol Inks (these are the colors I used but you can use any of them- get creative!)
    • Green
    • Blue
    • Yellow
    • Red
    • Gold
  • Super Glue
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Flat Nose Pliers
  • Metal Cutters
  • Silver Wire (approx 22 gauge)

Step 2: Cut Out the Tree

The tree will be 3 dimensional and have 5 sides.

So, each side before it is glued together will look like half a Christmas tree.

Trace half a Christmas tree in the sheet metal and cut it out using the metal cutters. Be sure the trunk is about twice the size you want it to be.

After you have cut out one half-tree, use it as a template to cut out 4 more, identical trees. If you have a cat, they can cheer you on like mine did! :)

After you have 5 half-trees, use the flat nose pliers to bend the inside edge of the trees into about 90 degrees. It doesn't need to be perfect because you will have to reshape them when gluing at the end. There should now be a ridge going the length of the tree. (See pictures)

Step 3: Beginning the Alcohol Inks

The beauty of Alcohol inks is how forgiving they are. If you don't like how they stick, simply dab a little Alcohol Blending Solution onto the ink and it will wipe right off! So, if you don't like where your tree is going, simply start over.

I used Pinata Alcohol Inks, but there are several brands to choose from. It doesn't matter the brand, but as I haven't used any of the others, I can't say which brand I'd prefer.

First, since this is a tree, I wanted it to have a green tint to it. Paint the entire tree with green ink using the paintbrush. Be sure to do a VERY thin coat- not too much ink or it will be too thick to react well with the other colors and alcohol.

Alcohol ink dries very quickly so after a few seconds, it should be relatively dry. However, alcohol will activate the ink again. (Try saying THAT three times fast!) Lightly mist the tree with the alcohol mister once and the ink will immediately react and push away from the alcohol, creating a splattered pattern!

Step 4: Adding More Colors

Next is the REALLY fun part!

One of the amazing things of alcohol ink is that the colors do not blend. If you put a drop of yellow down and then a drop of red, they will not mix to create an orange but will repel each other and stay in true to their colors.

Add several drops of the red paint to one of the trees. It doesn't matter where, but do not overdo it- remember, less is more! Also, be sure the drops of ink are light and thin- too much and it will run everywhere and take over your tree!

As soon as the drops hit the metal, they will immediately push away the green ink away from them.

After you add the red, add a few drops of alcohol as well to the green to create different shades of green.

At this point, you do not have to follow these steps exactly. Get creative, and make your tree your own. I was experimenting too, and each time I painted a tree-half, I did it a different way. However, I found that by following the steps listed here I had the best results.

Also, when using the inks, they come in dropper form so that you can drop the ink directly onto your piece. I found that sometimes the ink comes out too thick and so I usually pour a little ink into a dish and use a paintbrush to drop it onto my artwork.

Step 5: EVEN MORE COLORS!!

Now add a few drops of yellow and blue. You can add even more colors if you choose, but I wanted to stick with more traditional Christmas colors so I kept to these three.

After adding the colors to the tree, I decided to add a touch of Gold. This was a last minute decision, but made the tree SO much better. Just a drop here and there gives it a magical, sparkling look!

Once all the colors are added, you can either choose to mist the ink with the alcohol mister or use a small paintbrush and add drops of alcohol directly to the metal. In the pictures above, I have shown both techniques. Since I was experimenting, I did a little of both, but after comparing the two, I decided I liked the effect of dropping the alcohol much better than misting it.

Once you have painted all 5 trees, front AND back, wait until they are dry to begin gluing. It should take about 30 minutes, but may take longer, depending on how much ink you used.

Step 6: Gluing the Tree

Because this is an ornament, and small, I decided to super glue the tree pieces together. I suppose if you are more advanced and cool than me, you could solder it or do something fancy to stick the pieces together, but if you're like me, you might consider gluing! ;)

The first two pieces are the easiest, pick any two trees and glue the 90 degree bends to each other.

Once those two are dry, two others can fit by gluing their sides to each of the other's, like the photos. The last is a bit tricky, and you may need to adjust the bend to more or less than 90 degrees. It will be able to slip into a crack between one of the pieces just glued on, and once secured with glue, will be quite sturdy.

Using your pliers, adjust each of the five sides to spread them out equally.

Step 7: Finishing Details!

Last step! Hooray!

Now, your tree is pretty much complete! Of course, you could stop here, if you just want an ornamental center piece or other type of decoration.

I decided to curl the tips of the branches for both decorative reasons and to be merciful to my poor fingers who were always getting poked. Using the needle nose pliers, bend the tips slightly to give them a curl.

Also, for a little extra swirl, I added curls of silver wire to the branches. Using the pliers again, bend the wire into a swirl and glue it onto the tree. I added 1 on one side of the metal and two on the other side.

Last, glue a ribbon or string from the top of the tree to hang it on your big tree! I even added a little wooden star.

Step 8: Finished!!

The tree is finished! Yay!

If you make your own tree, be sure to post a picture, I'd love to see it! Alcohol inks are so much fun and easy to learn to use- anyone can do it. I hope this tutorial encourages you to make your own alcohol ink art, but just a warning, once you start, it's pretty hard to stop!

For now,

~Elsie B.

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    2 Discussions

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    jessyratfink

    8 days ago

    I love looking at alcohol ink tutorials, it always looks like so much fun. :D The ornaments are gorgeous!

    I like your kitty helpers too :D

    1 reply
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    half-bloodjessyratfink

    Reply 8 days ago

    Thank you! Yes, they are a blast- and the results are so unique! :)