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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