Alcohol Ink Workshop | Leicester

Alcohol inks

My journey with alcohol inks started just over a year ago and in that time I have been approached several times to do workshops. Always hesitant and afraid to try something new I politely declined and said I wasn’t ready. Fast forward to June 2019 and with a double helping of courage I said yes!

This lovely lady booked in for a 3 hour 1-2-1 session, with the aim of creating some original artwork as a centre piece for her new home. Our session focus was therefore on learning how to use the inks and create multiple pieces, out of which she would select her favourite and have an enlarged print made.

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Prior to the workshop we had discussed her desired colour palette (blues and greys), so I’d stocked up on all the blues (being a purely teal girl myself)! Our colours for the day were Sapphire Blue and Baja Blue (both by Pinata), Stream and Eggplant (both by Ranger), the combination of which was just dreamy!

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All the blues

With Yupo as our substrate, I demoed the blue inks and how alcohol isopropyl (99.9%) is used to move them around and blend them together, using a straw, an airbrush and a heat gun. My client then had the opportunity to experiment with each of these techniques and decide which one she preferred.

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Demo – all the blues and an airbrush

My intention was to convey the importance of letting go of control. Alcohol inks can be coerced and maneuvered to a certain extent but ultimately it’s about working with them, not against them. Allowing them to do their thing – without forcefully imposing your will and expectation – is where the magic lies. This is a constant challenge for me and undeniably an accurate metaphor for life!

During the session Anupa made several beautiful pieces in her chosen colour palette, varying the composition slightly each time but embracing the white negative space. Here she is with two of her favourites – I think her smile says it all!

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We both had a magical morning, not only producing gorgeous artwork with alcohol inks, but connecting through conversation too. For me, it’s so important to create an encouraging environment free from judgement, where my client feels safe and comfortable and able to create freely. Art is about expressing oneself, not what the teacher wants them to express.

Anupa so generously wrote this of our 1-2-1 alcohol ink class:

Today I experienced my first ever art workshop and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect person to do it with. Livi was great in every way, from our first contact to the workshop itself. The 3 hour session flew by because it felt as though I was creating art with a friend 🙂 Livi supported me to produce some great pieces but she allowed my creativity to shine through with just enough guidance. The alcohol inks were super fun to work with and created some great effects. I would thoroughly recommend a workshop with Livi, you won’t regret it! 

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My client photographing her own work

This beautiful workshop has undoubtedly lit a fire inside me and I can’t wait to teach more alcohol ink workshops! If you’re interested in learning about alcohol inks and wanting to try a new creative outlet with endless possibilities, please get in touch. My workshops can be taught 1-2-1 or in groups of up to 4 people.

For questions and enquiries, please email livilollipopart@gmail.com ❤

Behind the Scenes | The Evolution of a Greeting Card

Alcohol inks

Behind the creation of my greeting cards is a whole of hard work, perseverance and love. My intention to create gorgeous, vibrant, colourful and memorable cards is not something I do lightly. The process is long and laborious (always taking way longer than I think it will!) but in the end, after producing a whole new range of glorious, rainbow greeting cards, I believe it’s totally worth it!

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Rainbow butterflies – CLICK TO BUY

It begins with creating the artwork with alcohol inks, either on Yupo paper or ceramic tile. For this particular range of cards, I wanted to create a rippling rainbow border with a plain white centre, onto which I could write a variety of phrases. This in itself was a labour of love, as creating ripples with alcohol inks is not as easy as it looks. Like anything, it has been a massive learning curve and has required much persistence and trial and error, and then some more trial error!

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This particular piece was created with my favourite rainbow palette of alcohol inks: Pinata Magenta, Ranger Sunshine Yellow, Citrus and Mermaid, with the help of my trusty hairdryer!

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Once the artwork is complete, I scan it into my computer at high resolution (600dpi) with my beloved Canon scanner. It’s then ready to play with in Photoshop!

Any smudges are cleaned up and all micro-hairs and specs of dust are removed. This is again another lengthy process and involves zooming into the image and utilising the ‘clone stamp’ tool in Photoshop. I actually love this process, despite it taking ages, as for me it’s like magic! One minute the inks are full of microscopic fluff and blemishes, the next minute they’re gone, with a simple click of the mouse!

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Rainbow Birthday – CLICK TO BUY

Once that’s all done it’s time to add the text. For this, I use free downloadable fonts from a variety of websites. I make sure any fonts I use are allowed for commercial use.

For half this range, I also included some multi-coloured butterflies from a really old vintage butterfly book I bought for 30p. Again with the magic of Photoshop, I colour-matched each butterfly with the inks and created a mixed-media collage.

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Dream Big – CLICK TO BUY

Once the designs are all complete, I align each one with my back cover design, convert the colours from RGB to CMYK (which always breaks my heart a little, as the colours dull ever so slightly!) and then they’re ready for printing.

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All my cards are professionally printed on high quality, glossy, laminated card and can be purchased individually or 3 for 2. ❤

 

 

 

 

Gifting the power of the inks – A colourful collaboration

Teaching the inks

I was recently invited to partake in a wonderful initiative of the Leicester Early Onset Parkinson’s charity, whereby a person with Parkinson’s disease is paired with a local artist. The artist’s role is to teach their chosen medium to the person with Parkinson’s, who will then produce a piece of artwork showcasing their newly acquired skills. A second piece of work is then created by the artist, inspired by the person with Parkinson’s. The two art pieces will then be part of a touring art exhibition around Europe.

When Claire (my friend and founder of the charity) asked me to participate in this amazing collaboration I was deeply touched, excited and nervous. Having never taught ‘the inks’ before I was hesitant about my abilities to do so, but I believed in the project and truly believe in the magic and healing capacity of alcohol inks.

I was paired with a beautiful lady named Hema. We met for coffee last week to get to know each other and discovered many similarities in our journeys – about pain and growth, healing in acceptance, and a mutual love of spiritual literature. She shared so freely with me about her experience and I left our meeting feeling utterly inspired.

Today we met for our first session in which we explored the inks, different colour combinations, different methods of blending and different surfaces. We each created three pieces.

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Just as I was hoping, Hema loved the inks! Like me, she found them absolutely mesmerising, meditative and awe-inspiring. She loved the endless colour possibilities and also like me was drawn initially to the delicious shades of teal, her favourite being ‘Stream’ by Ranger.

All three of her creations were enchantingly beautiful and I was delighted that she felt such an affinity with the inks. Her final piece was a glorious rainbow, magically in the shape of a foot print (incredible how she achieved this!) to signify the array of emotions from dark to light. It was simply gorgeous.

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Hema 3

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Hema 1

Before today, Hema had never created a piece of visual art and now in one morning she has created three! She spoke of the opportunity being a real gift to her, allowing her to express through art what she has been feeling for years.

“Thanks so very much for your support and artistic talent. You taught me so much in a short time – I felt exhilarated, excited and able to tap into an artistic side I never knew I had. I felt amazing being able to make something that can reflect so much emotion.”

It was an honour and privilege to help Hema achieve this, and I can’t wait til next week when we each create an A2 size piece for the exhibition.

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Our morning’s work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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giant print 1

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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