Coloring Translucent Polymer Clay with Alcohol Inks

Learn about coloring polymer clay with alcohol inks. Article and tutorial by The Blue Bottle Tree.
Look what you can make with polymer clay that’s been tinted with alcohol ink. Even for a fairly opaque clay (this is Fimo), the color richness is just nothing like you can get with regular polymer clay colors.

Coloring Translucent Polymer Clay with Alcohol Inks

  • Because alcohol inks are brightly colored dyes, they can be used to make brightly colored polymer clay that still has translucent qualities.
  • Just mix a drop or two of alcohol ink with your polymer clay to create a new color.
  • Be aware the alcohol inks can fade with exposure to sunlight and/or heat.
  • Tinted translucent polymer clay makes great faux glass effects.
  • Alcohol ink can bleed out of unbaked polymer clay, so be careful not to store it in contact with other polymer clay.
  • You can also color translucent polymer clay with a variety of art materials as discussed in this article on coloring translucent Premo.

I get a lot of questions about coloring translucent polymer clay. For a color junkie like me, one of my favorite art materials is alcohol ink. Alcohol inks are an intensely concentrated dye dissolved in alcohol. They are permanent and once dried, are not water soluble. They come in dropper bottles in a wide range of colors from the most intense brights to the more subtle browns and grays and even black and white. Made popular and brought to general crafting awareness by the scrapbooking industry, alcohol inks have been around for a while. I bought my first set in 2002. Recently, however, there has been much interest in using them with polymer clay. You can use alcohol inks in a variety of ways with clay, but for today I’m going to focus in using them for tinting or coloring translucent polymer clay.

Alcohol inks are so much fun to use with polymer clay that I wrote an entire article about them. You can learn more about using alcohol inks with polymer clay here.

Why it works so well

Because polymer clay is also soluble in alcohol, the dyes in alcohol inks readily disperse into polymer clay making alcohol inks a perfect material for coloring translucent polymer clay. Translucent polymer clay doesn’t have pigment particles that block light transmission, that’s why it’s translucent. If you begin coloring translucent polymer clay with something that has pigment particles, such as oil paint, chalk, or colored polymer clay, at some point you are going to compromise translucency as you add more pigment and the intensity of the color increases. Alcohol inks, because they are dye based, do not have particles to obscure the light. You can therefore color the translucent clay quite intensely without reducing the clarity of the clay. There is a limit, however, and high amounts of alcohol ink will interfere with light transmission. Especially with the darker colors. Even so, coloring translucent clay with alcohol inks gives a richness of color that is unlike anything available with colored, opaque polymer clay.

What doesn’t work so well

Stickiness

There is a limit to how much alcohol ink that polymer clay can “hold”. It is a chemical additive and some clays, Kato Polyclay especially, can get quite sticky if you add a lot of alcohol ink. Also, some people have reported plaquing or mooning in the cured clay. Plaques are light areas within the clay, sort of like imperfections.

Bleeding

The dyes in alcohol ink travel thought the mass of clay quite easily by simple diffusion. In other words, the dye “bleeds”. If your mass of clay is all one color this poses no problem. However, two unbaked balls of clay tinted with two different colors of alcohol ink, if stuck side by side, will eventually mix together. Given long enough the color will diffuse from one to the other and mix completely. Always make sure that your tinted clay doesn’t touch any other color of clay when stored. Also keep this in mind when you use tinted clay in veneers and mokume gane stacks. This means you cannot use alcohol ink tinted clay in millefiori canes unless you are going to bake them right away. If you set aside your work for a while you will very likely come back to a homogeneous mess. Some colors bleed more quickly (due to the size of the dye molecule), so it’s more apparent. Others might not show a problem for weeks. I don’t see any signs of the colors bleeding in baked clay, though. So if this is a concern make sure you bake your project right away before the colors have a chance to bleed.

Comparison of diffusion of colors of alcohol ink through polymer clay. Article about using alcohol ink with polymer clay.
Alcohol inks diffuse throughout polymer clay over time. The top veneer of this amulet was cut from this sheet of polymer clay. The amulet was baked. The remaining sheet has been in storage for 4 months and the colors, originally on the surface of the veneer, have diffused. Note that mainly the orange has diffused while the green and yellow stayed in one place better.

Color Fidelity

Another factor to be aware of is that the color on the bottle of ink, and the color that it creates on paper is not necessarily what you’re going to get. For instance, Ranger Purple Twilight is a nice grape purple in the bottle and on paper. But mixed with translucent polymer clay, it turns sort of a light plum color, or even a fuchsia. Piñata Passion Purple, on the other hand, appears nearly cobalt blue on paper but colors the clay a nice grape purple. Some colors may change even more when the tinted clay is baked. I don’t consider this a problem. It’s just one more challenge you face when learning about a new medium.

Comparison of how alcohol ink colors are different on paper, in unbaked polymer clay, and finally on baked poly clay. Article by The Blue Bottle Tree.
Comparison of how alcohol inks can be very different on paper, in unbaked, and on baked clay. The top row is Piñata Passion Purple. The bottom row is Ranger Purple Twilight.

 Brands of Alcohol Ink

There are two main brands of alcohol ink on the market. Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Inks made by Ranger come in 48 colors that are grouped into Earthtones, Lights, and Brights. You will most likely see 3-packs of bottles in your local craft store. Ranger inks certainly come in a wide range of colors but vary in their intensity greatly from one to the next. The Bright range tends to be the most intensely colored.

Piñata Alcohol Inks by Jacquard come in a smaller range of 19 colors which includes black, white, silver and gold. I have found that Piñata inks are much more intensely colored and require much less ink to color the clay. On the other hand, they also seem to be more sticky and don’t dry as readily. Piñata inks are commonly available in your craft store in an “exciter pack” which has 6 colors, extender, and clean-up solution.

As alcohol inks are merely a dye which is dissolved in alcohol, there are people who make their own. I have read of combining Rit clothing dye with regular drugstore Isopropyl Alcohol to produce an ink that rivals the commercially available products. While this is a decent solution for use on paper, it will not work on polymer clay. Clothing dyes are not the right type of dye to stain polymer clay. The colors will wash right off the clay.

Another fantastic source of alcohol inks are the alcohol ink marker refils. Copic and Spectrum Noir are both good ones to try. You usually have to order the refils by mail order as they’re not usually found in your local store. But it does increase the color range that you can choose from. Keep in mind that with markers, lighter colors are just more dilute, so for our purpose with polymer clay they would just be duplicated, less concentrated colors.

Working with Alcohol Ink

Alcohol ink can be very messy. It’s a dye and it doesn’t wash out. Make sure you’re wearing old clothes (ask me how I know) and that your work surface is able to get messy. Even better, use a non-porous work surface like a glass cutting board or a ceramic tile. Why? Because even though alcohol ink is waterproof and permanent, it’s very easy to clean up. It’s soluble in alcohol! Just use regular rubbing alcohol (we have this in the US), or go to the pharmacist (chemist) and ask for Isopropanol. It sounds scary but unless you’re drinking it (don’t!!), and in the small quantities you’ll use, it’s harmless. (Alcohol inks have limited solubility in vodka, though. I just checked it. I think you need a higher concentration.)

Coloring Translucent Polymer Clay with Alcohol Ink

Here’s how I use alcohol ink to tint or color translucent polymer clay.

Learn how to color translucent polymer clay with alcohol ink. Article by The Blue Bottle Tree.
Getting ready to color this translucent clay with “Bottle” alcohol ink.

1. Make a thin sheet of translucent polymer clay. The more surface area you have, the better. The alcohol ink will dry faster if it’s spread out more.

Drops of alcohol ink are being spread over the surface of polyclay.
Place 4-6 drops of ink onto the translucent polymer clay sheet. Spread thinly.

2. Squeeze drops of alcohol ink onto the translucent polymer clay. The more you use, the more intensely colored the resulting clay will be. Don’t add more than 4-6 drops for a 4 x 4″ (10 x 10cm) square at first. It takes too long to dry. You can always add more later.

Using a palette knife to spread alcohol ink over translucent polymer clay.
Use your palette knife to spread the alcohol ink evenly over the surface of your clay sheet.

3. Spread the alcohol ink over the surface of the sheet of clay. I use a palette knife for this because it doesn’t soak up any of the ink like a Q-tip or paintbrush does. And I can clean my knife with alcohol between colors.

4. Let dry. Yes, this is the hard part. You really should let the ink dry completely because wet alcohol ink makes quite a mess on your hands and pasta machine.That being said, I tend to be awfully impatient and often try to mix it up before it’s dried. Sigh. I am so ME.

Alcohol ink has been used to tint this green lump of polymer clay.
Mix the clay completely until the alcohol ink color is evenly distributed.

5. Mix the clay until the color is evenly distributed. If you’re not happy with the intensity of color at this point, it’s easy to roll out the clay to a thin sheet and add more color. Repeat as needed to get the color you’d like. Not sure what color it will be when baked? Here’s a quick tip. Pinch off a tiny bit of clay, lay on a separate ceramic tile or heat-proof surface, and “cook” it with your heat gun. This doesn’t cure the clay completely (and often singes it slightly if you’re not careful) but it does give you an idea of how the clay will look once baked. Keep testing as you add more color to your unbaked clay until you get a color you’re happy with.

Balls of unbaked polymer clay tinted with alcohol ink are compared against baked clay to show the color difference.
Balls of unbaked tinted polymer clay compared with circles of baked clay. You can see that some colors change more than others with baking. All of these clays are Pardo Translucent Art Clay with the exception of the light green on the top row. It is Kato Polyclay.

Inspiration

When you use alcohol ink to tint translucent polymer clay, the result is rich and intense. You can create color effects that are impossible with regular opaque polymer clay colors. Here are a few things I’ve created recently. I particularly like to use Translucent Pardo Art Clay because it is so much more clear than the other brands that I have tried. It is so clear, in fact, that you can easily read through thin sheets of it. If you’re excited about what you can create with translucent polymer clay, you can get more inspiration on my Pinterest site. I have a Pinboard specifically for creations made with Translucent Pardo Art Clay.

Are you looking for projects that you can create using translucent clay tinted with alcohol ink? My Graduated Colors Tutorial shows you how to make these lovely Rainbow Disc Bracelets and this Translucent Blue to Clear Lozenge Bead Necklace. And if you love working with alcohol inks and translucent polymer clay, check out my Faux Glass Effects Tutorial for making faux Czech glass, sea glass, and Roman glass.

Learn about coloring translucent polymer clay with alcohol inks. Article and tutorial by The Blue Bottle Tree.
Two rainbow disk bracelets. The bottom bracelet is made with translucent Fimo and the top one with translucent Pardo polymer clay.
Graduated Colors necklace featuring translucent Pardo art clay tinted with Alcohol Inks.
Made from Translucent Pardo Art Clay, this lozenge bead necklace is the first project in the Graduated Colors Tutorial. You could use any clay or any color for this technique.
Blue tone squares cascade earrings made from Pardo translucent polymer clay and alcohol inks. Learn more at The Blue Bottle Tree.
Pardo Art Clay was used for these earrings and the colors used to tint it were Stream and Meadow by Ranger Inks and Sapphire Blue and Passion Purple by Piñata Inks.
Read the article on coloring translucent polymer clay with alcohol inks by The Blue Bottle Tree
Magic Circle Necklace made with Translucent Pardo Art Clay that’s been tinted with alcohol inks.
Delicate necklace with flakes of translucent clear plastic arranged on a thin cable. Tinted with alcohol inks and explained in this article.
Tinted polymer clay was combined with untinted clay in a Skinner blend to create this Flake Necklace from Translucent Pardo Art Clay.
Cobalt blue bracelet made with Pardo Translucent Art Clay.
This cobalt blue color was created using Translucent Pardo Art Clay colored with Sapphire Blue Piñata Alcohol Ink.
Blue striped polymer clay pendant made from SCDiva's Controlled Marbling Tutorial
The cobalt blue stripes in this Controlled Marbling Pendant are created by coloring polymer clay with alcohol ink.

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99 thoughts on “Coloring Translucent Polymer Clay with Alcohol Inks”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! Maybe I missed it somewhere but I was wondering what were the names of the colors and brands of ink you used, were they all Adirondack? I’d especially like to know the blue one that’s second in the bottom row of the picture you compared baked clay and unbaked balled clay.

    1. Oh golly, I didn’t keep track and now I don’t remember. Most likely it’s Adirondack Ranger “Bottle”. But don’t hold me to it. I know that I made those balls of clay for a project where I was trying to get true spectral colors so I did do a bit of mixing, but I can’t tell you if I did on that color or not. Some of the colors are Pinata, some are Adirondack Ranger, some are both. Sorry, I know that’s not much help.

  2. I finally used my alcohol inks to color some translucent clay. The colors are beautiful! They are clearer and less muddy and I may just start using trans and alcohol inks for everything. Is there somewhere I can show you the flower canes I made? Some of the prettiest I’ve ever done!

    1. Oh I bet they are really gorgeous! You can just send me the pictures by email, by convo on etsy, or just post them to my Facebook page. I’m also on Flickr, so if you’re there send me a link. One thing that worries me, though, is that alcohol ink colors will eventually diffuse throughout the body of clay, so a cane that you make, if left unbaked, will get blurrier and blurrier as the colors diffuse and blend. So you might want to use them up ASAP before they get messed up. I found that I can’t leave two colors of clay touching or they bleed into each other. But I think you’re right about how pretty the colors are…so pure and clear and gorgeous! I can’t wait to see your canes.

      1. Yes, I remember you said that. I used what was left today to make some beads and I even covered an egg. I left a slice of each cane unbaked so I can see how long it takes for the colors to mix. Next I want to try the Pardo and Kato translucent clays to see how clear they are (after reading your other article). Also, I found that the Premo Translucent FROST 5317 bakes clearer than the regular Premo Translucent. I’ll send some pictures in a few days.

  3. THANK YOU for this comprehensive tutorial on how to use alcohol inks with polymer clay! I truly appreciate all the work you did in order to help the reader avoid new-person mistakes, such as letting the ink dry. I had no idea. I think I need to leave your blog open in a tab here so I can look at it frequently. You should write a book!

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Angie, I just found your comment. I’m glad you liked the article and found it useful. I don’t know if I had the attention span to write a book, though, so many other things I want to do! You know how that goes. Thank you for commenting!

  4. Thanks for answer. I read your article. I did not ask with this gorgeous necklace. I actually wonder did you use liquid polymer clay with alcohol ink in other case?
    I am sorry because my bad English

  5. The Flake Necklace which you made is so gorgeous. It suits with elegant dress. I can imagine that.
    Did you use liquid polymer clay with alcohol ink? I like that.

    1. Wow, thank you. It would be nice with an elegant dress! It is actually not liquid clay. It’s Translucent Pardo Art Clay that’s been tinted with alcohol inks.

  6. Lynda Dunham-Watkins

    Great post, and thank you so much for your sharing. Was glad to see Issy’s comment about using PYMII. I’ve used it on my polymer sculpts for a couple of years…have always been pleased with it. Was going to ask you about the finish that you use. Thanks again.

    1. I used to use Varathane but I don’t really like the look of it. Unless I’m using mica powders or chalks, there’s not really a need to use anything. I recently bought Genesis Heat-Set Matte Varnish, which is a huge favorite among doll makers for the velvety matte surface it creates. I still have to experiment with it, though, and will certainly report what I find. Once in a while I use paste wax. Renaissance Wax would do the same thing. But it only works on smooth surfaces. Thanks for your nice comments. And good to hear another vote for PYMII. I keep meaning to buy it.

  7. Rosemarie Kibitlewski

    I know this isn’t the right place to ask this question, but I can sense that you’d be open to answering it. How do you clean your pasta machine between colors? I have just started working with polymer clay and haven’t seen this addressed anywhere else. I am trying to do the translucent clay and right now am waiting for it to dry. I love this medium! Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Absolutely the right place to ask. I’ll always try to help answer question, though I might not always know the answers. This is a really good question, and I’ve not seen anyone write about it for a while. The quick and simple answer is that I use a baby wipe and wipe the rollers while cranking it. But there’s more to it than that. The way a pasta machine works is there are two rollers, each with a blade or scraper sitting against them on the underside. The problem is, clay gets stuck in those blades and then flecks of one color get put onto the next color you run through it. Frustrating. And I don’t think there’s any way to completely eliminate all of it. My pasta machine has been modified. I’ve taken the “fenders” off of mine so I can get in there and dig the collected clay out from behind the blade. But I have a really old machine and I’m not sure they can be taken apart in the same way with the newer models. Here’s really old article about cleaning your pasta machine. Your machine might not come apart the same way, though, so use caution.

      A few things come to mind:
      1. When you’re using the baby wipe, run your finger up underneath the rollers. I think you can actually see the blade against the rollers there, and you can wipe it off. Turn yours over and look.
      2. Clay is more likely to get stuck under the rollers if you try to force too much through it. I try to make sure my clay is warmed up and conditioned fairly well before I try to put it through the machine. Always start with the largest and work your way down, too.
      3. Run some scrap clay through between colors. Have some black, white, and trans “scrap” that you just use to “transition” the clay to the next color. That should pick up any loose bits.
      4. Some people have dedicated machines for black, white, and trans.
      5. Watch carefully with each pass through the machine. If you see any residue or specks come through, stop then and scrape them off the sheet before folding the sheet and putting it through again.

      As you can see, we all deal with this to a certain extent. It’s the nature of the beast. I hope this info helped, though!

  8. Hi Ginger,
    Thank you so much for adding this very comprehensive post in my FB group. I truly enjoyed reading it. I do agree with you on the Pardo translucent clay, it is much more clear. In fact I only use pardo clay now. I was using exclusively Premo, but they have changed their formula. It’s too soft and flexiable even after it’s been cured. I make components like clasps and art beads that get a lot of wear and tear and clasps that also get a lot of handling. Pardo is perfect, especially for clasps. I use my Premo clay only in my mixed media art now.

    1. You’re more than welcome, Jeannie. I figured lots of people would appreciate the information. I get a lot of inquiries about how to tint clay using alcohol inks and hopefully this will help address their questions. I also really like working with Pardo. Like you, I’ve found it to be so much stronger than Premo. It just seems to perform better all around. I’m still using Kato, but who knows what direction I’ll go for “regular” workhorse clay. Right now I’m doing a lot of trans work and that’s all Pardo thus far. Though I’m eager to dive into my newly arrived supply of Cernit.

        1. Yes, I think it is. It can be quite crumbly when you first open the package. But soon it works up and becomes almost “flowy”. It is quite sticky, but it’s not soft like peanut butter. It’s hard to describe.

    1. Now Hilary, you can’t leave me hanging like that. Hints on your idea? Make sure you blog about it so I can see what you come up with. (Inquiring minds want to know!)

    1. Aw, thank you Jayne. I find color to be addicting. I started with one set of colors and just kept adding another set every time I went to the craft store. I’m glad you’re finding the tips useful. I think we all learn from each other and it’s fantastic that with the internet we can share with so many people.

  9. Great info in your post. I used to use inks a lot on baked clay, but just recently started mixing it into transluscent (for that faux jade look). I will have to try thinner pieces. Your latest bracelet is to die for ….
    Thanks for the tip about spreading it out with the knife – looks easier to use than the knitting needle. I also get ink all over my fingers, but I have found that when I wash my hair, the shampoo gets rid of the ink.

    1. You can get the Pardo very, very thin and it will still be strong enough for jewelry. But thin pieces can be pretty flexible, so keep that in mind with your design. Strong, but floppy! Yeah, that knife trick does save the fingers. I’ve never noticed the shampoo getting the ink out. Interesting. I wonder why? I usually can get most of it off with alcohol, though.

  10. Hi, Ginger, thanks for this great article! I’ve had some alcohol inks I bought for a specific project but never really knew how to use them except for that. So, they’ve been sitting. Now that you’ve shown how to use them and what to expect, I’m going to experiment with them. Just one question of clarification: The inks will only combine with each other before the clay is baked, right? After it’s baked the colors will remain separate?

    1. Yes, after baking the colors stay separated. At least I’ve not seen any diffusion in the pieces that I have. That’s a good point. I’ll add that to the article. Thanks!

  11. Ginger, I am a rubber stamper and have used alcohol inks since before 2000. We used them to make a faux marble background with leafing pens. You can use any alcohol based ink including the refills for the popular solvent based markers like Prismacolor, Tria, Copic, and many more. When we started this they were the only inks available. Then Ranger came out with the original Adirondack Inks, before Tim Holtz hit the scene. So you could end up, if you buy the ink refills from Copic with 328 colors of alcohol inks in every shade and tint and tone. However, as with Adirondack and all other alcohol inks, they may bake to a different color than the label or even the mixed color, so check first. LOVE your article and all the information. Thanks! Sent your blog to some friends in our guild.

    1. What fantastic information, Jeanne. I have wondered if the Copic refils would be the same thing. Ooh, this doesn’t bode well for the budget, does it? I might have to convince myself I need a set of those as well? Seriously, though, it’s fantastic news that they’ll work the same way and it truly does increase the range of colors we have to work with. Thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for sharing with your guild. Hey, the more the merrier!

  12. Great post Ginger!i totally agree that the waiting is the hardest part,but really makes so much difference. The only way I can force myself to wait into leave the room or switch projects. I usually keep several thing “out” and in progress so I’m motivated to switch and let things wait, rest or dry

    1. Thanks Emma. I should probably take that approach. I tend to work on one thing at a time because I hate having my studio a mess. If I had more shelves maybe…hmm…think how much more productive I could be if I had drying surfaces? Must talk to the husband about installing shelves…. 😉

  13. Fantastic tutorial Ginger, so informative and your pieces are divine. I’ve experimented a little with inks with some success (faux jade being one) but they tend to sit in the cupboard along with an assortment of chalks, paints, dyes and glittery stuff. You’ve inspired me to rescue them from the back of the cupboard and play. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Davinia. You blog looks like a lot of fun. I’ve added it to my reader. I love what you call your kids! Yes, please do get your alcohol inks out from the cupboard and have a play. I’d love to see what you make!

        1. Isn’t it great when you finally get your life back? I’m one down two to go, but I got my studio back this past August. This coming August my husband gets a den. Then we have to wait another four years for that coveted empty nest. From my current perspective (teenage girls!!) that empty nest looks pretty good!

  14. I love your blog, you are so informative while maintaining a realness (is that a word?). I am inspired and love seeing your work. Makes me want to go play. Thank you so much for your posts and results both positive and negative.
    I like to know that everything doesn’t work out perfect for the “pros” as they say…it makes it easier to soldier on when I mess up. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Gosh Valerie, you made me smile so big! I do try to be real and “realness” is a word because we say so! I should really post the things that don’t work out sometime. We all mess up. We all have piles of crap. Lynda Moseley, who is the queen of fantastic finishing has a jar that she calls the Butt Ugly Jar. In fact…I think this should be a post. I’ll put it on my list of things to write about. Thank YOU for the inspiration!

  15. You are a pure fountain of information, Ginger. If you ever decide to teach classes in the Springfield area I would be first in line to sign up.

    1. Aw thanks, MaryKay. It’s funny, but we all know so much more than we think we do. It’s amazing how once I start writing a post I think of more and more to put in there. Chalk it up to years of reading forums and experimenting with things and sharing with each other, too.

  16. Ginger – what a great write-up! I’ve been wanting to try the rit dye/rubbing alcohol experiment, I love alcohol inks – they are a staple in my studio, and the idea of playing with new colors really makes me happy. 🙂 I really love the look of your cobalt blue pardo discs – so striking.

    1. Christina, I meant to include the inks that you use…the ones you found in clearance somewhere, but I couldn’t find the name of them. What were they called? I’m thinking that even if they’re not sold here anymore, perhaps in Europe they might be? You never know.

  17. Great info! I love how in depth you go when writing about your explorations. I also like to paint with the inks on cured clay. I use a brush with straight color dropped onto a plastic paint tray or I dilute the color with rubbing alcohol. It gives a nice sheer finish. Sometimes I even use a color wash technique as a cheat to intensify the color of of something after it is baked.

    1. Gosh, thanks Marie! I’ve not yet tried to paint with them on baked clay so I didn’t want to write about it. There are so many possibilities with these. Have you found any problems with the color coming off? I’m wondering if a direct squirt with perfume or hair spray, for example on earrings, might cause the color to run? It’s something I need to try someday.

      1. I generally seal all of my work because I use a lot of mica powders. I haven’t had unsealed work run, but it can wipe off some if you rub it before the alcohol dries. Hair spray and polymer are a bad combo even without the inks. Hair spay can make polymer permanently sticky. I saw that many jewelry artists have a care statement that warns against this so I started to include one along with items that I sell.

        1. Probably a good idea. What do you use to seal your work? I’ve not been too happy with Varathane and even the satin can be a bit too shiny for some of the things I want to try. I just bought some Genesis Matte Heat Set Varnish but it only came yesterday and I’ve not had a chance to play with it yet. I am hoping that will be the holy grail of sealers. No runs, no drips, no shine…

          1. I like to give my baked items a spray with PYMII then rebake them for about 10 minutes. great hard finish…although you do have a shine, but not TOO shiney. and about the rit dye thing. has anyone else noticed how difficult it is to FIND rit dye anymore? i’m always searching it out but when i do manage to find it, they usually only have black and maybe navy.

            1. @Izzy, I don’t know where you live but Rit is available at a lot of grocery stores, all WalMarts and many of the craft stores (Michael’s, JoAnn’s, etc) in my area. You could also buy it online from multiple sources.

      2. I am excited to try painting these inks on. I have always loved Lumiere colors and hated the dullness of Adirondack so I am very excited to try the inks you suggested. I cannot recomment Inca Gold for anything but painting (only the paste). I dip a brush in water and find that is the only way that I can apply it…very think layers that dry quickly. Otherwise is slides all over the surface. And it is certainly not transparent. If you have had success with Inca Gold I would love to know how.
        Many thanks for such a great site!
        Beth Wheeling

        1. Hi Beth, so very glad to have you here, welcome! Not all Ranger inks are dull, just some of them, but they are less intense than the Pinata inks. Though, just like having brown clay it’s nice to have dull colors of ink at times. It depends on the need and use. As for Inka Gold, I have used it as sort of a “frosting” for creating a metallic coating on the surface of a textured piece’s highlights. I don’t thin it. And yes, it dries quickly. It does slide around a bit and isn’t transparent, but why does that matter? No metallic pigment is transparent because they’re physical pieces of metal and/or mica. Sounds like you don’t like Inka Gold…that’s okay, you can send it to me, LOL!

  18. What a wonderful post! I have some Adirondack inks that I’ve used a few times, but mostly they just sit in their drawer. I’m feeling inspired to pull them out and experiment! I also have some packages of old Rit fabric dye, and I’m wondering whether I could mix those powders together then with the alcohol to get different colors, shades, etc… Here’s to hoping I have a bottle of Isoprophyl on hand! I think I do… excuse me, I need to go rummage through cupboards! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Charity, I’ve had those Pinata inks since 2002 and never really used them. I think I was afraid to waste them maybe? But a little goes a long way and there are so many cool things you can do with them. Like Marie says (below), you can paint with them on cured clay as well. And you’ve got some Rit dye on hand? Oh please, do write back and tell me how that goes. I’m really curious!

      1. Ginger, I finally got around to trying to make the alcohol inks with fabric dye. I was wrong about the brand of dye I had on hand, though. I have Dylon fabric dye, not Rit, and I have the powdered kind. Didn’t work at all. ~sigh~ The powder didn’t completely dissolve in the alcohol, even after leaving it for a few _days_, and after extensive shaking. It’s a good thing I only tried a tiny little bit for each color. Some of the color leached into the alcohol, but it left them very very pale — not at all like the rich and vibrant colors that alcohol inks are supposed to be. So, note to whoever’s interested, the Dylon brand of dye DOES NOT WORK, when trying to make your own inks. I was really looking forward to going all mad-scientist and mixing my own colors, too! Oh well. Maybe someday I’ll have enough money to buy some Rit dyes and give them a try…

        1. Interesting. Thank you VERY much for getting back to us on this. I wonder if it would work if you dissolved the Dylon powder in water first? I’m with you, I really want to try it too!

  19. great post, ginger! thanks! i managed to ‘snag’ 5 blocks of pardo professional translucent and am looking forward to trying it soon. in the meantime, i’ll see what i can do with premo. it will be interesting to compare them. i use a lot of translucent with alcohol inks as well cos i just love the effect. as you said, some colours can be misleading, and/or disappointing. i think the one that disappointed me most was adirondack eggplant, which turned the clay a muddy grey colour. but i love the pinata saphire blue and baha blue. i’ve learned to be patient and let them dry slowly but i’m not as smart as you, and spread the inks with my fingers, which leads to some pretty interesting looking digits!
    thanks again. izzy

    1. Now that I’ve worked with several brands, I can say Premo is good but it’s soooo squishy! But it should work really well for this if you can leach it first maybe. Fimo worked much better than I had expected and it handled beautifully. It almost didn’t need conditioning it was so smooth. That’s funny, I love the Ranger Eggplant color. It certainly NOT what you think it’s going to be, but it makes a nice neutral. Especially since the gray color that Ranger has (mushroom) is actually more like an olive green. I also end up with colored fingertips, even though I use the knife. I’m impatient, remember! I can be awfully messy when I work.

  20. I like this idea very much, but I don’t know where I can buy Pardo art clay here in the north of the Netherlands

    1. You don’t need to use Pardo Art Clay. You can use any translucent polymer clay. The rainbow bracelet in the top picture was made with Fimo Effect translucent. Pardo isn’t found in very many stores, even in Germany where it’s made. I do know that http://www.laurenz-morgan.de in Germany does carry it and you might be able to order it from them.

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