Thursday, April 3, 2014

DIY Alcohol Ink Applicator


A while back I made my very own alcohol ink applicator because I'm cheap, that and I didn't want to wait to have one shipped or drive across town to buy one.  Instant gratification can be a good motivator. That applicator worked so well (and is the long one in the picture above), that I decided to make a couple more to refine it just a smidge.  The scrap of wood I used in my first applicator is a leftover piece from a set of shoe shelves.  It came with these little connector pieces to link the shelves to another set.  I threw them in my scrap bin figuring I'd use them for something. So the first one I made by gluing the hook side of some hook and loop tape to a chunk of wood.  

The process remains the same, but this time I wanted to make the applicator smaller. I often end up using only one end of the old long one (it's about 3 inches long) and if you're working on a larger surface, that can mean waste--waste of ink and waste of felt. So I figured I'd cut another one of these blocks in half.  I decided it might be a good idea to make one just like my first--simply gluing the velcro on. The other half of the chunk of wood I wanted to try something a little different. This time I glued a piece of thick craft foam (double thickness of the regular sheets--I picked it up at Michael's to make some DIY stamps) to it between the wood and the velcro to give it a bit of give when I was working on surfaces that weren't flat.


To get started I needed to cut the piece of wood in half. I decided I'd just use a little hacksaw. No need to drag out power tools (however if you have a circular saw set up--that would take like two seconds and this did take me a few minutes to cut by hand).


I measured the half way mark, made a cut, and then proceeded to cut along all of the faces of the wood. When I finally had it cut enough, I just broke it in half (as shown in the photo below). This method works well when you're working on a surface that you don't want to cut with a hacksaw, and keeps your wood from splitting as you finish cutting.


I sanded off the rough edges and got out my glue. I decided I'd use E6000 this time as the edges of the velcro were starting to peel up a bit on my first applicator where I used tacky glue. E6000 also was my preference for working with the craft foam as the E6000 works so well with multiple types of materials. If you are not using craft foam, a hot glue gun and a chunk of cardboard to smooth the glue out before you lay the velcro down would work well too.


I cut my velcro strips (hook side only) the length of my blocks and grabbed a little piece of cardboard to smooth the glue out and stuck it all together.


When I was all done, I ended up with two blocks pretty similar in size to the applicators you can buy. I just cut some white or light colored felt squares to stick on there and I'm ready to go. These new blocks use less felt and are easier to maneuver.  I already tried out the regular small one when I made this week's post about alcohol ink bookmarks, and it worked great! I can't wait to try out the cushioned one.


Update (July 2015): These have held up great through many projects over the last year. The "cushioned" one with the craft foam is my favorite applicator--I use it for most of my projects.

6 comments:

  1. This is exactly the tutorial I was looking for :) thanks for posting
    One question though, which did you find works better, the applicator with the foam between the wood and Velcro or the one without?

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    1. I love the one with the thick craft foam. Anytime I'm inking something that's not perfectly flat, I grab it. That applicator has just a bit of give without being squishy. The ones without the foam stamp without the give and work well on flat surfaces.

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  2. I was wondering about types of felt. Does acrylic felt work, or do I need to get a natural fiber felt, such as wool? Thanks.

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    1. I use the cheap acrylic felt. Every once in a while I'll get a sheet that likes to shed fibers onto whatever I'm stamping, but I haven't noticed a consistent problem with a brand...perhaps just a bad piece now and again.

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  3. Could you staple to velcro loop to the wood instead of gluing?

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    1. Yes, if you have a staple gun, that would totally work! (Me and staple guns often don't get along...I've stapled my thumb a couple times :))

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