Tips & Tricks When Painting Alcohol Ink On Metal

by Stephen Hans

painting alcohol ink on metal

Image Credit: Candy Creates


We have come to metal in our alcohol ink substrate series! Painting alcohol ink on metal is simple to do. Whether you are painting alcohol ink on metal washers, foil, tumblers, filigrees, metal sheets, or something else it is easy to achieve incredibly gorgeous effects that look fantastic both as artworks and as jewelry.


How Do You Paint Alcohol Ink On Metal?


Step 1: Clean The Metal. You want to make sure the metal is completely clean of oils and residue. Dish soap and plenty of water can work to remove grime, as does wiping the surface down with Isopropyl alcohol. After cleaning the metal, be careful you don't touch it too much with your skin and end up leaving more oils on the previously clean surface!


Step 2: Apply The Ink. As with other non-porous surfaces, alcohol ink will sit on top of the metal nicely. A few drops go a long way, especially when blended and extended out with a clear blender solution. Depending on what you are painting, you may also only need 1 or 2 colors to achieve a gorgeous effect. There are many ways to apply the ink, depending on the effect you want and the size of the piece you are working on. See below for some ideas and technique tips.


Step 3: Seal It. Since the ink sits on top of the metal, it can scratch off. This is an issue if you are making jewelry or other pieces that might be handled. You will want to seal alcohol ink on the metal before this happens. There are many ways to seal alcohol ink on metal, and our best advice is to Test, Test, Test! Test a scrap piece of metal first to see what effect the sealer will have on your inks and on the metal. Many artists like to use Krylon or Rustoleum Acrylic sealers with glossy finishes and recommend applying 2-3 very light coats 15-20 minutes apart. Your results may vary depending on the sealer, the inks used, the metal surface it is applied to, etc... so be sure you test everything first before applying to a finished piece.


Tips, Techniques, And Projects For Painting Alcohol Ink On Metal


painting metal washers with alcohol ink

 Image Credit: Cindy Dyer


Paper Towels For Tinting. Metal is great because it provides some texture and warm luster when painted on. Have paper towels on hand to lift some of the intense color and create a soft tinted metal look.


Q-Tips For Blending. Q-Tips are very helpful to manipulate the inks and blending solution together to create controlled blended effects on jewelry.


Felt Pads For Mottling. Disposable felt pads, when wetted with alcohol ink drops and stamped or dabbed multiple times onto the metal, creates very cool distressed mottling effects.


Dipping For Charms. When working with small charms and objects, you can always put a few drops of ink into a small plastic baggy and just drop the charm into the bag to color it. Please note: You will want some tweezers to pull it out if you don't want to stain your fingers!


Tinfoil Is Your Friend. The shiny side of tinfoil provides a mildly reflective surface to paint your inks on, which makes your paintings practically glow when the light hits it. Since the foil is soft, it is easy to crease, so be careful when handling before and after and be ready to embrace any "happy accidents." Some artists embrace this as well to create cool creases and embossed effects on the surface. Some like to wrap the tinfoil around other surfaces to create a metal plated sculpture that they then paint (see the sculpture from Tracy Evans below). Some like to adhere the foil to a solid backing before painting. Others like to protect the finished piece by sandwiching the foil between glass panes in a floating picture frame afterward.


Dimensional Glue Glazes. If you are working on smaller flat pieces like metal pendants or washers, dimensional glue glaze can be a gorgeous option to create a resined effect without any of the hassles. Mod Podge's Dimensional Magic tends to play well with alcohol ink and it has a thick consistency which is helpful for controlling its application. Judikin's Diamond Glaze has a thinner consistency and flows well on pendants and other pieces where just a shiny coating is wanted. There is a learning curve here though, so again... test test test everything! With these dimensional glazes bubbles are your enemy, so never shake the bottle and try to be swift and deliberate when applying it to the piece. Have a toothpick on hand to pop bubbles. A little goes a long way, and you want to try and avoid the glue running off the edge of the pieces, so a toothpick again comes in handy for moving the glaze towards the edges.


What Will You Create?


alcohol ink on metal sculpture

Image Credit: Tracy Evans


There are so many project ideas and techniques out there for painting alcohol ink on metal from flat surfaces to sculptures to jewelry and beyond. This article only lays out a few. What have you tried? What worked well? What didn't? Let us know in the comments!