This is a crazy concept, I know, but have you every thought of using alcohol inks to paint imagery with? Historically, ink has had two primary uses: the production of written or printed communications and, yes, imagery in the form of drawings or paintings. In polymer, we primarily use it as a colorant; but alcohol inks, even though they are dyes (you can even make your own with rubbing alcohol and fabric dye), can be used in ways similar to watercolors. So why not paint with them?
Let me back up a bit and mention the difference between alcohol inks and watercolors. Watercolors are pigment that is suspended in water in order to apply it to a porous surface, most commonly paper. Alcohol inks were developed to work on non-porous surfaces, so although they can be and often are applied to paper, they cannot be manipulated on paper the way watercolors are. The alcohol ink will stain the paper immediately so the pick-up, washes, and translucent layering of color that is common in watercolor won’t work well or at all with alcohol inks on paper. In order to have a full array of possible applications and techniques, alcohol ink painting takes a sealed surface such a gloss paper, melamine, clay board, ceramic, glass, metal, or … polymer clay.
There is a whole community of alcohol ink painters out there doing gorgeous work. Some of it is realistic imagery, but I find the abstract or impressionistic paintings the most interesting as well as the most likely to inspire work on polymer clay. Trying to choose a piece to share with you today was difficult. So I’m going to share a few and then your assignment is to go look at more!
This piece is by Wendy Videlock, who sells DVDs on alcohol ink painting techniques.
And here is one by self-described dreamscape artist June Rollins, who also has a book out on the subject of alcohol ink painting.
Can you imagine doing this kind of thing on polymer? Sure! Why not? Raw or cured, it’s a perfect substrate for the ink; and with clay, you have options for manipulating the clay surface before or after applying the ink, giving you many more possibilities than working with the less malleable surfaces mentioned above. Does this have you thinking?
If you want to research alcohol ink painting more, I would first suggest going to Google images and typing in “alcohol ink painting” to get a better idea of just what can be done with the ink as far as painting. Then you might hop over to Monica Moody’s very helpful and rather humorous posts on the subject including posts on materials you might want to gather if you plan on a thorough investigation. I did, and now I have a little shopping to do!