Rainbow Coasters | Alcohol ink art

Alcohol ink coasters

A few months ago I started using alcohol inks on ceramic tiles with the intention of creating coasters. Each tile is individually painted using alcohol inks and is completely unique – a tiny square of original art on which to sit your favourite drink.🍸☕ Inking the tiles was the easy (‘ish!) part; the sealing process on the other hand, has been a seemingly never-ending learning curve!

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All the colours!! Created with Raspberry, Sunshine Yellow and Mermaid.

I have researched and researched and researched and experimented with several types of protective spray. The alcohol inks sit on the surface of the non-porous ceramic tiles so sealing them is essential. Without sealing them, they are at risk of scratching off and discolouring. In the US all alcohol ink artists seem to use Kamar Varnish, Kamar Clear Glaze and Kamar UV-Resistant Clear Varnish. These three sprays however, are painfully expensive when sourced online (as currently nowhere in the UK seems to stock them!) so finding a cheaper alternative was a necessity.

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Dandelion and Slate

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Coasters all sprayed and waiting to be resined

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Purple, Wild Plum and Sunshine Yellow

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Wild Plum & Black

After considerable trial and error and asking for suggestions in Facebook community groups for alcohol ink artists I found the answer!! Each of my coasters is now sprayed three times with Plastikote Clear Sealer, followed by three coats of Kamar UV-Resistant varnish. With this combination, the inks are sealed in and the colours remain gloriously vibrant! (Previous attempts with Rustoleum and Ghiant sprays DID NOT work for me. There was serious discolouration, especially with the pinks, and the deep magenta turned into an ugly shade of grey salmon.) After several distraught months and feeling hopeless, I found a solution and I was ecstatic!

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Lettuce & Slate.

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Coasters waiting to be sprayed.

Preventing the inks from fading however, isn’t sufficient for them to be used as coasters. They need to be sealed with epoxy resin too!! This in itself has been, and continues to be, a massive challenge for me. Every day’s a school day, so they say! Resin is a viscous liquid which can be poured onto artwork to preserve it, as it hardens permanently to create a protective coating. It’s an extremely fiddly, messy and complicated process as so many factors can affect it. It needs to be mixed in the correct proportions (50% hardener 50% resin), stirred slowly so as not to incorporate air into it (thus creating bubbles – bubbles are the ENEMY!) and all done in a room of 23-25°C. It’s sticky, toxic and gloves are essential, but I still manage to get it everywhere! Resin is also really expensive, so mistakes are super costly. Like I said, I’m still learning!

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Elevated coasters waiting to be resined!

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Me and my enormous supply of resin!! It’s most economical to buy in bulk.

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Pouring the resin.

What I’ve learned:

  • Elevate the tiles, so the resin can drip off and not congeal underneath
  • Tape the under side of the coasters with frog tape, as resin hardens and once it’s hardened it’s a nightmare to get off!
  • Room temperature is EVERYTHING! The inks and alcohol isopropyl don’t work properly when they are too cold and the tiles are too cold – the coverage is dull, lumpy and lack lustre instead of beautifully vibrant and opaque. The alcohol also evaporates the ink in ugly patches, instead of blending the colours together.
  • Use a blow torch to burst the little bubbles in the resin, but again, temperature is everything. If it’s too cold, microbubbles form in the resin and there’s no getting those out!
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Frog taping each individual coaster – so time consuming!

On one hand, this has been one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done. At each stage there has been what felt like an insurmountable hurdle and I have often felt like giving up. Despondency used to be my default and I frequently have to fight those old thought patterns. Somehow though I’ve kept on keeping on and never lost sight of the end goal. I’m so utterly delighted with how these coasters look and can’t wait to start retailing them!

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Which style do you prefer? Left or right?

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A Liquid Rainbow | Alcohol ink art

Commissions

A couple of weeks ago whilst on holiday I received a message from a lady on Etsy asking if my rainbow print could be enlarged. Hell YES it can!!

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She said she was looking for rainbow coloured art and wanted something that could elicit a happy cheerful feeling and after four days of searching and viewing 4000+ art works from different websites she found me! My artwork was ‘the first one that spoke to her’ and when she found out I could produce an enlargement, she was sold. She was excited, and I was way more excited! Especially because she lives in CALIFORNIA!!

I always scan my artwork at 600dpi with my beloved Canon 9000F Mark II so enlargements are possible without compromising the resolution. The file is then adjusted in Photoshop (exposure, brightness, contrast etc) and it’s good to go! I use a professional printers for all my print work, as the quality of their prints is superb and their colour reproduction is just perfect. Alcohol inks come in the brightest, most beautiful, vibrant colours and it’s fundamental for me that these are reproduced identically.

This enormous print measured 21 x 42″! And as it was being guillotined I couldn’t resist taking a few photos!

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And when I got home, of course be photographed with the print, to illustrate how big it actually is!

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Rolling this beauty was a whole new challenge for me. I’d never rolled anything so big, and have had trouble in the past creasing prints trying to ram them into tubes that were too narrow! This required a lot of patience, a lot of self-belief and a lot of positive self-talk (“I CAN do this” etc!) and with some brown Kraft paper – courtesy of Hobbycraft – and several sheets of acid-free tissue paper, I breathed deeply and rolled.

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It was then placed into a 27″ long tube with a 3″ diameter (essential to have a wide aperture) and some bubble wrap to prevent the edges being bashed around, addressed and sent off via Royal Mail to California! Hopefully once it arrives my client will photograph it on her wall and I can share the photo here 🙂

Until then, here’s a mocked up version of what it could look like!

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As always, I welcome any commissions or enlargements of my work. Please get in touch if you too would love a custom piece for your home, office, cafe or hotel. Contact livilollipopart@gmail.com

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Mermaid & Wild Plum | A colourful commission

Commissions

Having only been creating art with alcohol inks for a few short months, I was absolutely delighted to receive such a wonderful commission! My client wanted four prints in turquoise, purple and pink on which to place four sparkly gold letters – the initial of each of her family’s names.

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These four pieces were produced using Pinata and Tim Holtz Ranger alcohol inks on yupo paper, then scanned at high resolution and printed onto beautiful, glossy satin paper. Colours used were Wild Plum, Mermaid and White.

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As always, the motion in the inks is truly mesmerising. Magical. How can anyone not fall in love with them?!

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Alcohol inks have a mind of their own and that’s the beauty of working with them. It’s essential to find a balance between allowing them to do their thing, and guiding them gently to achieve certain textures and patterns.

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It’s much harder than it looks, and often the fruits of my labour are far from impressive! I therefore crop sections of bigger pieces and enlarge these to create a whole new piece!

Once the prints had been made, I carefully placed the glittery gold letters in opposite corners. Aligning them all perfectly was pretty tricky, but I think I achieved it!

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Each 9 x 9 inch print was then framed in a beautiful lovingly crafted real wood, real glass frame. I currently use the wonderful Banana Shed Framing Company for all my frames, as Kitty’s craftsmanship is just exquisite!

As a set, I was absolutely thrilled with the result. Looking forward to many more commissions to come!alcohol inkART 12

Day 31 #MarchMeetTheMaker

#marchmeetthemaker

Day 31 • C R E A T I V E • F R I E N D S • 

Over the last couple of months I’ve made so many amazing new creative friends, through face-to-face meet ups and through this challenge and I’m so grateful for all the people I’ve met ❤❤❤ I’m also super grateful to have this one by my side 😍 Having a boyfriend who understands the creative process and understands my frustrations and hurdles is just priceless.🌈… And one who is willing to let me photograph him, cut him out and stick him in my favourite mug 😂😂😂

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Days 29-30 #MarchMeetTheMaker

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Day 29  • C O M M U N I T Y • 

Until very recently I had no community and worked home alone, day in day out, with no human contact and no social interaction until my boyfriend arrived home in the evenings. I have friends who I meet every few weeks on a 1-2-1 basis but nothing regular. This led me to being extremely isolated and whilst I love my own company in moderation, I knew that this isolation and loneliness was really unhealthy for me. When Alex pointed out what I already knew I felt motivated to reach out and start a brand new meet up group for local creatives and small businesses who also work from home, alone. The response was overwhelming.

This was only 2 months ago but since then we have met most weeks for Tuesday coffees and more recently, coffee/ work/ lunch meet ups where we each bring a portable project and/ or laptop and work side by side for a few hours. This little group has been my saviour, as pre-Christmas I was literally thinking about jacking the whole art thing in as I couldn’t stand to be alone any more! Real face-to-face meet ups with really lovely, creative people have been amazing for me and I can’t wait to see how the group grows and develops.

In addition to the ‘real’ people I’ve met, a whole new bunch of amazing ‘insta’ friends have been introduced to me over the last month during March Meet the Maker, which has been wonderful! I’m realising that a real life and an online community is fundamental for me and I’m so grateful to now have both😍🌈 *Photo illustration adapted from one I did a while back for The Self-Esteem Team*

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Day 30  • T O P • T I P • A D V I C E 

This advice is totally for myself – stuff I really need to hear every single day!

••• Don’t compare yourself to others – comparison is the thief of joy! I constantly compare my skills and abilities and perceived level of success with other people and I invariably always fall short. I need to focus more on how far I’ve come, not on where I think I ‘should’ be…. and remember I am only ever seeing other peoples’ highlight reels, not their messy ‘behind the scenes’.

••• Social media likes do not define your worth – I can be obsessive with my checking of ‘likes’ and responses to my posts, even though I know in my heart that my worth is not dependent on validation from other people!

••• Keep going – even when it feels like an uphill struggle, remember that perseverance always pays off!

••• Be open to learning, development and growth. It’s inconceivable now how much you will improve and change over the next couple of years. I look back on my work from a short time ago and can’t believe how much better I’ve got!

••• Be grateful – keep on keeping on with the gratitiude lists. They make a big difference!

••• Don’t isolate – even though staying at home for 3 or 4 days straight is massively appealing most of the time, try and get out the house for some fresh air and exercise.

••• Find your people – this is a new one for me. Having just set up a local meet up group for creatives who work alone, I finally see the importance of connecting with other people doing the same as me! The friendship, exchange of ideas and inspiration that have sprung out of this group is amazing and I don’t know how I survived without it!

••• Try and enjoy the process – don’t just focus on the end result and bottom line! When I let go of the results and really focus on what I’m doing, it’s remarkable how much more I enjoy what I’m doing!

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