Monday, May 18, 2015

Sharpie Tile Coasters


Today's post is a total craft experiment. The folks over at Sharpie posted a tutorial for creating decorated coasters (in the style of alcohol ink) using nothing but some Sharpie ink and rubbing alcohol dripped onto the tiles. I was curious. I wanted to know how well it worked since a lot of people have some Sharpies lying around their house (whereas alcohol ink is a much more specialized craft supply). So I thought I'd give it a whirl. The first time I tried it (outside as pictured above), it didn't work at all.  It was warm and windy outside, and I didn't color solid lines onto my tiles, instead I had produced squiggles, and they didn't run at all when I put the alcohol on them (it was such a fail that I didn't even take any photos).


Fast forward to take two. This time I was working inside and I colored with the side of the Sharpie nib to get the most ink onto the tile as possible. I chose the brightest and boldest colors, and nearly filled the whole tile with ink. Just like working with alcohol ink, I had my craft mat on my work surface (parchment or freezer paper works well too).


Next I used a straw, and sometimes my fingers, to drip drops of rubbing alcohol onto the tile.


The ink doesn't react or run the same way alcohol ink does, instead, the alcohol sits on the surface and thins and mixes some of the Sharpie ink. Sometimes a circle will appear as you drop the alcohol onto the ink. I was pleased with the reaction since, this time, it appeared to be mixing a bit.


So I went ahead and colored another tile. This was a spare tile I had that was more of a satin finish instead of a glossy finished tile. I made a sort of rainbow across the tile and dripped alcohol on it.  It didn't pull away from the tile at all, but instead just lightened and mixed a bit.

After my first failed attempt, I put a ton of alcohol on these coasters to make sure that they did something. I was used to working with alcohol inks that react immediately, so I figured that if I left all of the alcohol on the tile, it would just turn into a brown pool of ink.  So I poured it off the tile.


That didn't really work so hot, it pretty much just slid the ink that had reacted to the alcohol off of the tile.


The glossier of the two tiles continued to change as it dried, and I could tell I had gotten the process wrong, that I needed to get the alcohol on the tile and then walk away and let it react as it dried.  That unlike alcohol ink, the process happens slowly instead of in an instant.


So I waited for the tiles to dry and remarked them up right over the old ink. One of the best things about working with alcohol ink is also true of working with Sharpies, if you don't like it, just wipe it off with alcohol, or let it dry and try again. So this time I inked up the tiles, dripped the alcohol over the ink, and then left them alone.


Some interesting things happened. The glossy tile reacted the most and had the ink pulling away from the tile in places.


The satin finish tile got muddy colored as it dried.

I'm sure with some more practice I'd be able to get some cool effects using alcohol and Sharpies, but if you have to buy all the supplies to make this craft, a pack of alcohol inks costs about the same as a pack of multicolored sharpies. You'll end up with fewer colors in your alcohol ink pack, but the learning curve is less steep.  I didn't have to try three times to get something even remotely close to turning out with alcohol ink.  

If I try this again, I'll apply lots of Sharpie ink like I did, but instead of covering the whole tile with a slick of alcohol, I'd shoot for dripping rubbing alcohol over about half to two-thirds of the tile and then let it dry without touching it and hope for the best. These tiles will definitely have to be sealed with a clear acrylic sealer or varnish or Mod Podge before being used as a coaster as the sharpie ink will rub off on your fingers after drying, so be sure to remember that step if yours turn out. Happy experimenting!

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