Monday, January 20, 2014

Varnish Comparison

If you are planning on making alcohol ink painted tiles, here is my take on the varnishes.

First, the worst.

This varnish completely ruined a set of tiles. I bought it hoping that the smell of tolulene and xylene would be reduced when I sprayed the tile. I never expected it to lift the inks off the tile and flake them off. Here's the result of using this spray varnish. You can clearly see flaking of the crystallized ink. Do NOT use this varnish to seal your tiles.

The second varnish is the Triple Thick Crystal Clear Glaze.

It isn't as bad as the Low Odor Varnish, but still not great. It gives a really nice glazed look, thick and clear as a baked finish, but it blurs fins lines. As you can see in the top picture, the circles have thick lines around them, those lines were thin as if drawn with a ballpoint pen and after spraying, they look as if they were drawn with a fat marker. If you want the high gloss look, use this spray, but if you have any fine lines you want to retain, this varnish will not do that.

I use the Krylon Kamar Varnish.

It is made for art, so it's gentle on the inks. It takes a few coats and the finished product doesn't have that glass clear finish, but the results are great. It retains the fine lines and there is no flaking or damage to the ink surface.

Bottom line...

Low Odor - No redeeming qualities, ruins your image entirely: Thumbs down, huge NO
Triple Thick - Okay if you want a high gloss finish and don't have any fine lines: Neutral
Kamar - Not as high gloss, but retains the painting of fine lines: Thumbs up

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another Tile

4x4 tile - pretty painted rose petals

I stumbled upon this technique to make petaled roses. I loveloveLOVE the way the flowers turned out. Just for an added sparkle, I drew in golden leaves.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Painted Tiles...Functional Art

Just picked up this little doozy right before Christmas. I needed something new to make for everyone for Christmas as I'm currently unemployed and on a very limited budget. I read a few tutorials online, picked up the inks and tiles and away I went. Here are a few examples of what I created.

If you want to make your own, instructions are at the end.

This was one of the first tiles I made, trying to make flowers.
Then, I started experimenting with adding drops of ink when the background was nearly dry.
Here I blended some ink when it was still dry and then added my little droplets.
This one wasn't what I envisioned, but I like the celestial look to it.
It almost looks like the flowers I intended to create, but I like the way it came out.
Continuing on the celestial look, I made this one and it is completely different because of the colors I used.

Finally, I made this one using several techniques. This is the first time I used the canned air to blow the inks around.
For anyone interested in making these painted tiles, it's really pretty easy.

What you'll need...

You and Your Work Surface:
I use a desk blotter, but newspaper works well, too. Be sure to wear clothes that can get dirty and when I say dirty, I mean ruined because this ink does not come out of clothing. So far, I haven't ruined any clothing, but the possibility is there. You may want to wear rubber gloves to keep the ink off your fingers. You WILL get ink on your fingers and your work surface. You can wash it off your hands with soap and water and alcohol, but it takes longer to come out of your fingernails. I use finger bandage thingies. In the first aid aisle, you'll find these rubber covers for your fingers.

I used 4x4 and 6x6 white tiles from Home Depot. I think the 4x4 tiles were 16 cents each and the 6x6 tiles were maybe 24 cents each.

Blending Solution:
There are people using regular isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), but I tried it and it did not give the effect I was looking for. Just get the Ranger Blending Solution. It's about $5.00 at AC Moore and Michaels, located in the section with all the other Tim Holtz products. While you're there...

Alcohol Inks:
You will find retailers online for these inks, usually scrapbooking websites. The good thing is that you can get individual colors. The bad thing is, if you're like me, you want to start right away and you'll have to wait for them to arrive in the mail. Because they are alcohol based, they can't be shipped across country borders. At AC Moore or Michaels, you'll have to buy the 3 pack of inks, which cost about $10 each. If you want to get a basic red, blue, yellow package, it doesn't exist. You have to buy several packages to get all the colors you want. My suggestion is to buy a few packages, experiment, go crazy, and then when you know what you like, order the colors you want. My staple colors are pitch black, butterscotch, cranberry, and lettuce. As you can see in the tiles above, the brilliant red is cranberry, the yellow is butterscotch, and the darker green is lettuce.

I use bamboo skewers. They're pretty cheap and can be found in the grocery store. I cut them in half and use the flat end for dripping ink and blending inks and the pointy end is good for getting stray hairs and dust out of wet ink.

I use Krylon Kamar Varnish from an arts or crafts store. It takes a few coats, but I love the finish. I've also used Krylon Triple Thick Glaze, which gives a really glossy look, but I think it tends to blur any fine lines you have and muddies the inks. The triple thick glaze dries faster and only needs 2-3 coats. A friend of mine used a Rustoleum varnish and her tiles came out matte rather than glossy. My suggestion is to get a varnish from an arts store, not Home Depot.

Paint - I use black or white Patio Paint from DecoArt.
Felt Pads: - Home Depot, pkg of 75 for about $4.
Paper cups
Sponge brush
Paper towels
Small flat brush


1. Wipe down the tiles with the blending solution. I use a sponge brush to liberally spread the blending solution.

2. While the blending solution is still wet, add your ink drop by drop. I taught a friend of mine how to make these tiles and she said the difficult part was being able to control the flow of the ink coming out of the bottle. It spreads fast and dries quickly.

3. Add colors until the tile is completely covered or you're satisfied with the look. If you want to blend the colors, you can use a small brush while the inks are still wet. I use the flat end of a dowel for all my blending and adding droplets.

For blending, I wait until the inks are almost dry to drag ink from one color to another. Do not wait until they are completely dry as you will end up scratching through the ink. As you can see in the picture above, I dragged a dowel through the red into the yellow.

For droplets, the ink can be almost completely dry. when you add wet ink to dry ink, it will spread out and give a cool droplet effect. I set the end of the dowel against the spout of the ink and get a little on the dowel and then touch the dowel to the tiles. If you add droplets on top of dragged ink, you get a layered look.

NOTE: At this point, if you do not like the way the tile came out, use the blending solution to wipe the tile clean. That's the beauty of this project, you can start all over, over and over again. You can also use rubbing alcohol to wipe the tile clean - it's cheaper than blending solution for this kind of thing. Blending solution or rubbing alcohol will dissolve the inks and all you have to do is wipe with a clean paper towel. Voila, instant eraser.

4. The inks dry almost immediately, but I let them sit for about 30 minutes before painting the sides and bottom.

5. Paint the sides and bottom using whatever color paint you want. This layer of paint gives the tiles a nice finished look. It is easier to place the tile on a paper cup when painting, better leverage for painting, I think. Let the paint dry for 30 minutes to an hour.

6. Spray the tiles with the varnish...OUTSIDE, NEVER INSIDE. The fumes are toxic and flammable. I usually spray on 3-4 layers, allowing each layer to dry about 15 minutes before applying the next. If you use the triple thick varnish, it will be glossier and dry quicker between coats and you'll need fewer coats. The varnish takes about 2-3 hours before it is no longer tacky to the touch. Resist the urge to touch the tile! There's nothing worse than getting this far and having a big ole fingerprint in the middle of your masterpiece. Let the varnish set for 24 hours.

7. Add the felt pads and enjoy.

Keep in mind that the tiles are not dishwasher safe. Wipe them down with a wet cloth. I have no idea if they're good in the microwave, but the varnish does protect them against water and heat, so they can be used as trivets and coasters. If you do make them, I'd love to see your creations, please share!