Don’t want to splurge on expensive alcohol inks? Create your own custom, pearlescent alcohol ink colors with mica powder and a few simple household ingredients.
Making alcohol ink is a fairly straightforward process, and mica powder is one of the best colorants you can use. The reason is that mica powder adds color and shimmer to alcohol inks.
Fortunately, most of the ingredients you need can be found at a local drugstore. Follow the steps below for making DIY alcohol inks with mica in 10 minutes or less.
Supplies: What You Need to Make Alcohol Inks
The supplies you need to make alcohol inks are inexpensive, and you can find them anywhere. You will need:
- Flip-top containers - For long-term storage, use 2-ounce containers. You can also mix in cups and use medicine syringes, if you’ll be using the inks right away. Note: Use a small funnel to fill the bottles.
- Marbles, glass beads or BBs - You’ll add 1-2 marbles or BBs to the bottle. This will help mix the mica powder, when you shake the bottle.
91% isopropyl alcohol - At a minimum, use 91% alcohol. However, you can use up to 99% alcohol (which dries quicker).
Mica powder - Choose your mica colors. Metallics like Flashing Bronze, shimmery greens like Sea Green mica, or glittery reds like Pearl Red all work great.
- Hairspray - Hairspray acts as a binder and adheres the mica powder to your surface. Alcohol-resistant liquid glues can also work, as well.
Why Do You Need a Binder?
Alcohol ink is typically colored with dyes, which dissolve in alcohol. Mica powder, on the other hand, is suspended in alcohol, and doesn’t completely dissolve. A binding agent is used to adhere the mica to whatever surface you are working with.
Without a binder, the mica powder can rub off. However, if you’re mixing the alcohol inks with epoxy or are sealing your project with a clear coat, a binder isn’t necessary.
Step-By-Step: Making Alcohol Ink with Mica
Follow these simple steps to make your own alcohol ink:
Step 1. Funnel mica powder into the 2-ounce bottle. Start with 1 teaspoon of mica per bottle (although you can add more pigment for a deeper hue).
Step 2. Add 1.5 ounces of alcohol to the bottle, then a one-half teaspoon of hairspray (or binding glue).
Step 3. Place a BB in the bottom of the bottle. A small glass bead or marble works too. Close the lid, and shake the bottle to thoroughly mix the mica and alcohol.
Step 4. Mica will eventually settle to the bottom of the bottle. Before you use, always shake thoroughly to disperse the mica in the alcohol ink.
Another Option: Mica-Alcohol Paints
You can also create alcohol-based paints with these ingredients. Simply alter the recipe to a 1-to-1 ratio (mica-to-alcohol) and mix in a small plastic cup, along with a half teaspoon of your binder. Alcohol paints are great for watercolor-like effects on Yupo paper, or for painting directly on the surface of bath bombs and other absorbent materials.
→ For more mica + paint crafting tips, see “How to Make Watercolors with Mica Powder.”
Techniques: Tips for Using Alcohol Inks
There are numerous ways to use alcohol inks, but for those you’ve just made with mica powder, here are a few helpful ideas.
Start here with this wonderful beginner alcohol ink tutorial:
Some other alcohol ink techniques to try include:
Yupo paper, metallic cardstock and photo paper are some of the best substrates to test. One technique would be to drop ink on the paper. Then, use a blending solution to pick up colors and disperse them. You can use a blow dryer to create beautiful abstract effects and push colors around the page.
You can paint or drip alcohol inks over white or black ceramic pieces, or dip the piece into alcohol ink. Another option: Lay out a piece of saran wrap, coat it with a blending solution, and drop on alcohol ink. Then, carefully wrap the piece and let sit for 1 hour. Slowly remove the saran wrap. Then, coat with a UV-resistant sealant.
Mixing with Epoxy
After you’ve mixed the mica-alcohol ink, you can add this directly into mixed epoxy resin. Add alcohol ink and stir thoroughly. The effect that’s created is more translucent than adding mica directly to the epoxy, and the natural mica glimmer can be more pronounced.
Dropping in Epoxy
After pouring epoxy resin into a mold, you can drop alcohol ink into the epoxy. The drops will sink into the epoxy, and the colors will naturally blend. This can help you create a unique marbled look for the piece.
→ For more epoxy resin craft ideas, see “How to: Coloring Epoxy Resin with Mica Powder.”
Find Your Mica Colors at Slice of the Moon
Slice of the Moon has everything you need for your next project. For inspiration, see our guide 61 Uses for Mica Powder. Plus, we offer more than 100 mica colors, epoxy kits, color mica collections and more.
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