Google+ House Revivals: How to Make Your Own Alcohol Ink Spray

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Make Your Own Alcohol Ink Spray

Hey folks! My husband and I had a little bit of fun last night making ink sprays. No, he's not a crafter (he is an artist, though he rarely admits it). The science of suspensions vs. solutions was what intrigued him.

I have wanted to experiment with alcohol sprays for a while, but wasn't sure I wanted to make the investment when I've never actually tried the technique. Making my own alcohol ink spray was a great way to try it out, without spending a ton of money.

In design school, we learned to recharge our art markers to stretch our ink, create paler blending shades, and to save money.  We primarily used markers that were either xylene based or alcohol based. Basically, even when your pens go dry, there is still likely to be quite a bit of colorant in that felt wick or cartridge. I had several dry pens laying around yesterday and decided to experiment with making spray inks using the dried out felt wicks.

I should preface this tutorial by saying that your alcohol ink spray is only going to be as "archival" as the product you use to create it. That said, for some of my own projects, I use "time" as an element of design. I enjoy seeing the effects of time in old journals and such, and feel that sometimes the fragile and fleeting nature of art can be an important element in how we perceive it. All that to say that I used Sharpies and highlighter pens for some of my sprays. As you can see, the pink highlighter spray turned out pretty faint, so I added some regular blue ink to the blue highlighter spray to give it more saturation.

You may have also noticed that some of the pens had to be broken to get to the insides! Since these were dead pens anyway, I didn't feel bad about breaking them. Some pens came open easily, others didn't.

I was actually surprised by the amount of color still left in these dried out old pens! I only used about an inch of wick for each of the sprays pictured above!

I did label the sprays with the type of pen used to create them. Here, I should probably mention that you can use just about any small spray bottle for this project. I found these little Barbie misters on clearance at the drug store for pennies, but you may have something around the house that will work just fine. I would recommend not spending too much money on new spray bottles until you've tried making your own ink sprays, and know whether or not you like them.

After you open up (or break open) your pens, remove the felt cartridge and cut it up into small pieces. Put the pieces into a little spray bottle, and add alcohol (just use the stuff from the drug store). Let it soak for a little while, then shake it up well. Experiment with mixing colors if you like.

That's all there is to it, folks. What do you think? Would you sacrifice an old pen, some rubbing alcohol and a spray bottle to create your own homemade alcohol ink sprays? Let me know in the comments!