Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Various Ink Technique Series - #1 Basic Polished Stone

I. Am. So. Excited.

Many years of education, self discovery and sharing with my fellow crafters have lead me to put together a lengthy series of Technique Tutorials featuring Various Ink Refills.  Some of you may not recognize the word "Various" right away.  "Various Ink" is what fills your Copic Markers.  Obviously being able to refill your markers is very very cool, but there is a whole world of techniques that have been developed since the first alcohol based ink was introduced many moons ago. 

Since then, several companies have developed lines of these inks and talented artists have pushed the limits of what they can do.  Over the next few weeks I hope to share the basics of working with alcohol based ink and share with you some of the techniques that I find most fascinating. 

So far, I have at least twenty tutorials to share with you and know that there are more gelling in brain.  There are several tools that are essential for me, when working with these inks.

Essential Supplies and Tools:
1.  Non-Stick Craft Sheet (Ranger) - there is literally nothing that will stick to this 15x18 inch mat which is essential when you want to clean up your after your project.  You will also see in many of the tutorials that the sheet is a tool for applying the ink itself.

2. Alcohol Ink Applicator Tool and Replacement Felt (Ranger) - the applicator and felt allow you to apply the ink to all sorts of surfaces.  Yes, you could make the handle itself and buy felt from the craft store, but this I find the handle essential in creating even coverage over your project.  It's very important that you are able to turn the tool smoothly and quickly as you apply ink.  The way this handle was developed allows you to do this.  The felt is also thinner than the craft felt which means that won't absorb too much ink and will keep the ink closer to the surface of the felt.

3.  Metallic Mixatives in Copper, Gold, Pearl and Silver (Ranger) - these metallic inks allow you create on darker surfaces as well as creating shimmer in your backgrounds.  Pearl is the first one I would add to my collection if I didn't have any.

4.  Various Ink Refills - there are literally hundreds of colors to chose from!!  I believe these bottles of ink are a tool all on their own, even if you don't work with Copic Markers to color your images.

5.  Various Ink Colorless Blender Solution - a must have for several of the techniques as well as clean up.

6. Glossy Cardstock - this is an entire post all on it's own, but for now I will recommend Ranger's Glossy White and Black.

7.  Archival Ink (Ranger) - this ink has unusual chemical properties that allows it to stamp with excellent and bold coverage over the strength of the alcohol ink.  I *highly* recommend it in Jet Black, Coffee and Sepia, but you will see me use other colors as well.

8.  Mini Mister (Ranger) - also important for several techniques using the Colorless Blender Solution.  Have several on hand.

I will be suggesting more supplies as the techniques become more complex.

Technique #1 Supplies:
-white glossy cardstock
-ink applicator tool and felt
-Various Ink Refills in YG03 Yellow Green, B02 Robin's Egg Blue, B29 Ultramarine

Step 1 - Squeeze Various Ink "into", as opposed to "onto" the felt applicator.  Don't drip the ink on because you are likely to add more ink than you need.  Press the tip of the refill to the felt and squeeze for a few seconds.  I have added three colors to my applicator in a triangle pattern.  Why a triangle?  Why three?  In short, odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye and the triangle pattern will give you the most even, yet randomized pattern.

Step 2 - Something I have discovered is that pressing the applicator to your Non-Stick Craft sheet one time before moving to your paper will help to even out the ink and give you the best possible first impression.

Step 3 - Pounce the applicator onto the glossy card stock with enough force that you are pounding it with some force.  After teaching dozens of students how to use alcohol inks I have discovered that most are too timid at first. Get your frustrations out!  Hit that paper hard!  As you go, turn the tool with almost every application to the paper.  This will help to keep the pattern random.

Step 4 - Move over the entire area of the cardstock.  If you were to stop at this stage, you coverage will be fairly even with no small pools of ink.  This is the most bold coverage, but also the least blended as you will see in a few steps.

Step 5 - Once the ink has dried, which will just take a few seconds, you can move over the surface again to create small circles or pools of ink.  This step will also help to blend the colors together.  The more you repeat the application, the more texture that will be build up.  You can stop at this step if you are happy with the result.

Step 6 - Next we are going to introduce Colorless Blender to the technique.  CB will soften the colors and of course blend and even the the pattern even further.  Add several drops of CB to the same felt that you had the original colors on.

Step 7 - Repeat the pouncing application over the surface the same way you applied the colored ink.  In the picture below, I have added Colorless Blender to the left half on the cardstock only so you can see the difference.

Step 8 - I have added applied Colorless Blender to the entire surface below.

Part 2

You may not know that all of the beautiful ink left on your craft sheet need not go to waste!  The following technique will allow you to create backgrounds and really stretch your pennies.

Step 1 - Fill a Mini Mister will Colorless Blender.

Step 2 - Spritz blender over the dried alcohol ink.

Step 3 - Press your cardstock glossy side down to the wet ink.

Step 4 - Here is the result of just one application.

Step 5 - Repeat pressing the paper to the ink until you have created the background you like.  Try pressing it into different parts of the ink and turn the cardstock as well.  If the ink dries again, just add more blender from the mister.

Step 5 - Here is my first piece from this printing process.

Step 6 - Here is the second generation piece, when there was less ink left on the mat.  Much more soft and subtle.

Clean Up - cleaning up the left over ink on you mat is a snap.  Apply a small amount of Colorless Blender from the bottle to you craft sheet and wipe clean with a dry paper towel.

Final Card

I like to keep my designs simple when working with a busier background like this one.  There is so much going on with the texture and color that competition needs to be kept to a minimum for my eye.  I have stamped the Chrysanthemum and Beautiful Day Sentiment (A Muse) with Jet Black Archival Ink and added Glossy Accents over the petals of the flower for dimension.  The focal is mounted on Grass Cardstock (Hero Arts).  I will talk about the plethora of products that work over Alcohol Inks in the coming posts and some of the ones that don't.  I will also cover what types of images are most suited as well as my favorite color combinations.

So, where to buy Various Ink Refills and the supplies for these technniques?  For online customers, the only business I would recommend is Ellen Hutson, LLC.  Her commitment to education and customer service are second to none in this industry.

For those lucky enough to be able to vist Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, I recommend Be Creative Rubber Stamps.  Haroldine, the owner, is very committed to the Copic product line and carries ALL Various Ink Refills.


  1. WOW, Lisa! Ellen was sooo right! You really did jump in with both feet! What an amazing and creative tutorial! I can't wait to give this a's beautiful! Looking forward to your other tutorials! Great job! :)

  2. This is such a fun...and EASY technique! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful creations :)

  3. My daughter and I are going to collaborate on a dream journal. Me on the backgrounds and her on the dreams. I am a newbie to the world of art journaling, but fascinated at using Various Inks as the medium. Loved your info - can't wait for more!

  4. This is an awesome background technique! Would be so pretty with so many different color combinations!

  5. Fabulous, Lisa! Polished Stone is one of my all-time favorite techniques and I can't wait to see what else you have in store for us ;) .

  6. I like this TT, I do it with ranger alcohol inks do you think there is a spacific differece between the two brands?

    Love Dawn xx

  7. Thanks for a wonderful tutorial, Lisa! I hope to see more on your techniques with Various Inks ... I love how I can use the inks in so many ways.