Cernit Alcohol Inks

The Clay and Paint Factory in Belgium, makes Cernit and Darwi, two brands names of polymer clay and crafting materials. Last year they released a line of Cernit Alcohol Inks. There was much speculation about whether they were worth it or if you should just stick with your brand of alcohol ink. Blueberry Beads sent me some to test out. Here are my thoughts.

Bottles of Cernit Alcohol Inks

About Cernit Alcohol Inks

Alcohol inks are a made with an alcohol soluble dye that stains polymer clay. Read more about alcohol inks in my article here. You can use the colors to color translucent polymer clay or to paint pretty patterns on the surface of polymer clay. The colors of alcohol inks can fade in sunlight (read more about this here).

There are 28 colors of Cernit Alcohol Ink plus a thinner and a cleaner. Included are black, white, gold, silver, copper, and pearl as well as regular bright colors. The bottles are 20ml, which is a bit larger than the bottles of competitors Ranger and Piñata. The bottles have a screw cap and a pointy nozzle that’s finer than competing brands.

TIP: Make sure to screw the lid down all the way first, before opening, to fully seat the nozzle. I had a problem with some of the bottles where the nozzle came out when I opened the cap. And as you are probably aware, a spill with alcohol ink is a super big mess!

Cernit Alcohol Ink Colors

The colors in the line of Cernit Alcohol Ink are well-chosen. It’s a good array of bright, clear colors. The inks apply smoothly and I don’t see evidence of clumping, granlulation or other weirdness. The reds are true reds, the pinks are true pinks, and there are nice blues and greens. Unlike competing brands, there isn’t an overemphasis on earth dull earth tones.

Most of the colors in the Cernit Alcohol Ink line are strongly saturated. The Pink and Lime Green are fairly pale, however.

NOTE: Alcohol inks are colored with dyes, not pigments. It's easy for us to want to say "highly pigmented" when referring to the depth of color, but this is incorrect. The deep colors are intense, saturated, or bright, but not pigmented! I know, I'm being picky, but precise language means better communication.
Small circles of polymer clay coated with Cernit Alcohol Ink
Cernit Alcohol Ink on baked white Premo. The bottom of each pair has been exposed to 10 days in the sun. Note, I’m missing two colors of green. I did not test Anise or Lizard.

Do Cernit Alcohol Inks Fade?

Fading in sunlight can be a real problem for alcohol inks (read more about this here). When the Cernit Alcohol Inks came out, there was much discussion about whether they faded or not. A few people reported they did not fade. Others questioned if a new type of colorant was used, rather than the “Basic Dyes” typically used for alcohol inks.

As you can see in the photo above, yes, Cernit Alcohol Inks do fade when exposed to sunlight. However, this range of colors does not generally fade severely. I think most of the colors hold up pretty well, in fact. You can see that the Violet, Sapphire, Pink, Magenta, and Lime Green faded quite a bit. But the other colors only faded moderately. You can see some fading, but I think if used wisely this shouldn’t be much of a problem. Use them mixed into clay or applied to raw clay. Or use them when the project won’t be exposed to light.

None of the Cernit inks completely changed color the way that I’ve seen happen with some Ranger alcohol inks.

Weirdness with Cernit Alcohol Inks

I did see some odd things happen with these inks, however. In my fading tests, I left the samples outside each day. One day, we had light sprinkles and the raindrops dried on the surface of the samples. That left odd water spots in a couple of colors. You can see them above in the Sapphire and Lagoon samples. Considering these inks are supposed to be waterproof, I found this to be strange.

When I rubbed them with a water-soaked Q-tip, some of the color did rub off. This suggests to me that some colors might contain some finely dispersed pigment to ensure that some color remains if the dye fades. But that’s totally a guess.

Some of the Cernit Alcohol Ink colors scratched easily on the surface of the clay. For this reason, I do think they should be protected with a water-based varnish such as Varathane, Brite Tone, or Dura Clear.

After 10 days in the sun, the Turquoise sample developed a crackle, revealing unstained clay beneath. This suggests to me that these inks contain a binder of some sort that acts almost like a paint, adhering the color to the surface of the clay. (For what it’s worth, Piñata alcohol inks have a similar behavior and can be scratched off the surface of the clay.)

Two circles of polymer clay with turquoise Cernit Alcohol Ink. One of the circles has a crackle texture.

Metallic or Pearl Inks

The Cernit Alcohol Ink line includes gold, silver, copper, and pearl. These inks contain bright mica particles that create a shimmer. They mix nicely with the colored inks, allowing you to make a variety of fun color effects.

Diluent and Cleaner

As with other alcohol ink lines, there are two uncolored bottles. One is a cleaner that can be used to clean your brushes. Save your money. Regular rubbing alcohol works fine for this.

The other is called a Blender/Diluent, which is similar to the Alcohol Blending Solution you might be familiar with from the Ranger Alcohol Ink line. This is an extender that is used to dilute and thin the inks, and allow them to blend together. While you can use alcohol for this as well, the Blender/Diluent also contains a sort of sticky, thick ingredient (similar to glycerin) that allows the thinned ink to flow smoothly and not be as runny as plain alcohol.

My Recommendation

You do need to be aware that alcohol inks will fade in sunlight and should not be used on the surface of baked polymer clay that will be exposed to light. They will fade. But there are many ways that you can use alcohol inks. These inks are wonderful and would be a great addition to your craft supplies. I would probably opt to buy these over Ranger or Piñata.

But if you already have alcohol inks, are you gaining anything by buying the Cernit inks? Not so much. If you need a specific color, by all means, buy the Cernit one. But the inks you already have will be sufficient for most things and you wouldn’t gain that much by buying the Cernit inks. On the other hand…if you’re eager to splurge, why not!

Where to Buy Cernit Alcohol Inks

Since alcohol inks contain alcohol, they can’t be shipped by air. That means they have to be brought by land or sea, limiting their availability. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding these in Europe. I would try . Here in the US, Blueberry Beads imported them and you can buy them on their website.

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