Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

We’re going to use two different techniques to color metal with alcohol ink.

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

In Part 1 of this tutorial, we made two brass pendant blanks:

Punched pendant blanks for Easy Riveted Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now, here in Part 2 of this tutorial, we’re going to use alcohol inks to color these pendant blanks with different techniques.

After coloring them, we’ll hop back over to Part 1 of this tutorial, and use a riveting technique to fasten our colorful metal pieces together into a single pendant:

Easy Riveted Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Easy Riveted Pendant – tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Supplies:

  • Metal you’d like to color with alcohol ink.
    Here I’m using the 2 yellow brass pendant blanks we made in Part 1 of this tutorial.
  • Alcohol ink.
    I’m using 3 colors of Ranger Adirondack alcohol ink – Watermelon, Sail Boat Blue, and Citrus (they were sold together in a 3-pack at my local craft store).
  • Cotton swabs (Q-Tips) for “painting” with the ink.
  • Dry paper towel.
  • Small piece of paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol for quick cleanups of your fingers, or to remove the ink from your metal if you want to re-do it.
  • Work surface that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Well-ventilated area to work in – the alcohol ink fumes can be strong.
  • Optional: Disposable plastic gloves if you don’t want your fingers inked. 🙂

The Alcohol Ink I Used:

Alcohol ink for Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

First, Clean Your Metal

IMPORTANT:

Start with clean metal, to remove all traces of skin oils and anything else that may resist or affect the ink.

Wash both sides of your metal thoroughly with a generous amount of liquid dish soap.

After washing off all of the dish soap, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto both sides of your metal and scrub it well.

Scrub in the same direction as the grain of your metal.

Wash off all traces of baking soda – and then without letting your skin touch the newly cleaned metal, dry it thoroughly with paper towels.

My textured brass pendant blank, now squeaky clean:

Textured brass pendant blank for Easy Riveted Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Protect Your Work Area

Alcohol ink can be messy, and can also leave stains on things you didn’t mean to color.

Here’s how I contained the mess and made cleanup quick and easy:
Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

I used a washable black plastic jewelry tray, lined with a paper towel, and put everything I was going to use inside this tray.

Then I did both of the inking projects right inside the tray.

Test Your Alcohol Inks
on a Scrap

If possible, do a test of your inks on a scrap of metal that’s similar to the piece you’ll be using.

That way you can see what the colors look like on it, and experiment with some different ink designs and techniques before putting any ink on your final metal pieces.

Here’s a test I did on both sides of a piece of scrap yellow brass:

Testing on metal scraps for Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Alcohol Ink on Metal, Technique 1:
Free-Form Color

Start with your clean, dry piece of metal:

Brass pendant blank for Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Choose a color of alcohol ink, and drip one drop of ink onto your metal.

The ink spreads and travels quickly on its own – so use just one drop at a time, and see what it does before adding more ink:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use a second color of alcohol ink to add a second drop to your metal:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

The blue was darker than I wanted, so I used a Q-Tip to spread it around – like watercolor painting:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Add another drop of color to an empty corner of your metal:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And layer a second color over one of the inked areas, if you wish:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

My finished metal pendant blank turned out like this:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Let your colored metal pieces dry completely before handling them (I let them dry overnight just to be sure I won’t mess up the color).

Tip: With this free-form technique, use restraint in how many drops of ink you use – especially if you’re coloring something fairly small like this 30mm x 40mm metal pendant blank.

The naturally spreading ink will create wonderful designs for you!

Alcohol Ink on Metal, Technique 2:
Emphasize Metal Texture

Start with your clean, dry piece of textured metal:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Start dripping a few drops of your chosen alcohol ink color onto the metal, and let it spread:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . until your metal is completely covered in ink:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Before the ink dries completely, use a bit of paper towel to gently wipe off some of the ink, leaving the metal surface lightly colored – and the texture pits more darkly colored:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

My finished textured metal pendant blank turned out like this:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Let your colored metal pieces dry completely before handling them (I let them dry overnight just to be sure I won’t mess up the color).

Tip: Try this technique with two ink colors – a darker color to fill the texture pits and wipe off the top, and then a lighter color to cover and leave on the entire piece.

How My Work Surface Looked
Afterward:

Coloring Metal with Alcohol Ink - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Cleanup is easy:

Put the inked metal pieces someplace safe to dry thoroughly, and put everything else away.

Wipe out the jewelry tray with a damp or soapy cloth.

Should You Seal Your
Alcohol Inked Metal?

Although I have not sealed my finished metal pieces after inking, many people do.

Here’s the official recommendation from the maker of these inks:

“Alcohol inks must be sealed with a water based sealer. We recommend Ranger’s Gloss Multi-Medium.” (Source: http://rangerink.com/faq.)

Ready to Turn Your
Colored Metal into a Riveted Pendant?

Head back over to Part 1 of this tutorial, where we’ll make this:
Easy Riveted Pendant - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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