Monday, September 5, 2016

Popular Post Recap: Alcohol Ink Glass Gems

One of my most popular projects on the blog are these glass gems that I decorate with alcohol ink. Over the years, I've revisited the project several times and gotten several questions in the comments, so I thought I'd combine all of the different variations of the project into one post and answer the most frequently asked questions.

If you've used alcohol inks before, this is a super easy project. If you're new to inking, it's a good first or second project. All you need is an ink proof surface (I use a craft mat, but parchment paper would be a good substitute), a set of inks, and an applicator (you can make your own in a pinch with a scrap of wood and some velcro). I bought my glass gems at Dollar Tree, but they sell them pretty much everywhere that sells craft/floral arrangement supplies. All you need to do is apply some ink to the felt on the applicator (just drip a couple colors on) and stamp at the back of the glass gem until you like the colors that show up. Depending on the colors you used, it could take several layers of ink from the same stamper to get darker colors showing up. When your gems have dried, seal them with a layer of mod podge or with clear spray on acrylic sealer.

One of my first revisits was to turn some of the small gems I made and didn't turn into jewelry into magnets by gluing a neodymium magnet onto the back.

After I acquired some additional ink colors, I revisited the project and tried to get some darker results. With alcohol ink you can get softer more watercolor results or very stippled results where the bubbles appear to be outlined in dark brown or black. To achieve those results, you need to stamp repeatedly (sometimes dozens of times per gem), sometimes even allowing the ink to dry a bit before layering on more. If you over do it, just wipe it off with a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol

I made quite a few necklaces out of this batch. I simply applied some glue on bails using E6000 glue. I strung them up with suede cording and some ribbons.

After making another batch of gems, I had quite a few that didn't turn out quite as dark as I'd have liked. So I made my first attempt at backing the gems in something to make them less transparent. I used mod podge and aluminum foil to make a shimmery backing.

My next attempt at backing the gems involved painters tape and white spray paint. These turned out pretty neat, so I look forward to trying out some other types and colors of paint and maybe even some nail polish at some point. I hope I can add more to this list as I do.

My most recent stab at the alcohol ink glass gems came from a recommendation in the comments about using aluminum tape (like the kind they use to tape your ductwork together from the hardware store). It comes with a peel off backing and can easily be punched with a 1-inch circle punch. So it was a slick way to get a shiny background on your gems without having to glue anything. This batch I made with some slightly iridescent gems, so they are especially sparkly in person.

I hope that answers most of the common questions about this project. When in doubt, keep stamping to get darker results. Also, start out with the darkest colors of ink when possible. If you're not happy with how translucent your results are, try backing them with foil tape or paint. Let me know how yours turn out!

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