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Last time, I shared some of the DIY Details of my elegant, jewel-toned wedding, so now I’m back to give you the low down on how you can make some of those projects work for you. One of the easiest (promise!) and most fun projects I tackled was turning plain, inexpensive wine glasses into gorgeous, favor-worthy works of art with alcohol ink.
Actually, I used this simple technique on a lot of cheap glass to add pops of color all around the venue. Whether it’s a vase, plate or candle holder, any solid non-porous surface (glass, plastic, ceramic or metal) will do. (Did you see the Instagram Hyperlapse video from when I was very first doing this for my votive holders?)
All you need to get yourself going is some ink in your color scheme, a stamping tool with felt squares, and a glass of your choosing. Michael’s sells these inks in pre-matched sets of three, or you can buy individual colors from the manufacturer’s website. Three seems to be the magic number when trying to achieve a blended, multi-dimensional look. Too few and the colors blend together where you don’t see distinct colors. Too many and you start seeing colors you never wanted in there. The more variation in the shades you use, the more dimension in the finished product. For demonstration purposes, I’m using the “Farmer’s Market” package with Cranberry, Eggplant and Lettuce ink.
Optional step one: find a workspace your cat won’t claim as a bathhouse.
First, press a felt square onto your applicator tool.
I like to leave a small edge hanging. It helps getting into tricky areas like where the stem meets the base.
Apply ink to the felt.
I like to start with the lightest color first, as it’s the one most likely to be overpowered by other colors. In this case, I squirted the green “Lettuce” shade in a haphazard design. There’s really no wrong way to do it, but swirls, rather than straight lines, tend to give you the best mixing of colors. Just a drop will soak into a large area. You want your felt to be well-saturated, but not dripping with ink.
Add your second color.
Fill in any gaps with the third.
When working with stemmed glasses, the hardest part is where the stem meets the globe and the base. I like to start with those, using that overlapping edge to get into the joints. Simply press the felt to the glass and give it a rolling motion along the curve.
You’ll immediately be able to see the color distribution. If you’re looking for more of one color, go ahead and add a few more drops and try again. The color already on the glass will blend once it comes into contact with wet ink.
From there, keep using the rolling motion to cover the portion of the glass you want colored. Every time you press the felt, the colors will blend a little more on the pad. If you see distinct patches of darker colors you don’t want (the Indigo shade is the worst about this), keep pressing to blend or try adding more of one of the more subtle colors to the felt.
I like the ink to taper off toward the mouth of the glass. To get the faded effect, tap (don’t roll this time!) the applicator lightly all the way around the glass at the edge of the existing ink. It will leave a clear demarcation at first, but we’ll fix that in just a minute.
To blend the pattern, keep tapping the applicator into the existing ink. Introducing new, wet ink will further blend what’s already there. Keep tapping until you’re satisfied with the coverage.
The ink dries almost instantly and is water resistant, but will rub off with a little scrubbing. Using a food-safe sealant will keep those pretty colors in place!
Some tips and tricks to keep in mind before you start:
Complementary colors will blend into brown if over-mixed (like the red and green above). If you want to avoid earthy tones, stay away from combinations of purples and yellows, greens and reds, and blues and oranges and stick with red-purple-blue, like this combination of Currant (a deep purple-red), Eggplant and Indigo or other analogous colors.
Be stingy with blue. This glass used Indigo, Slate and Eggplant, but the blue overpowered the gray and purple.
There’s no need to change your felt between pieces if you’re not changing colors. Just like on the glass, adding more ink reactivates what’s already there.
The more ink you have on your applicator, the more smooth the blending will be, but the more defined each stamp will look. This glass was painted in Cranberry, Currant and Eggplant and you can see the large, rectangular applications of ink.
Likewise, the drier you let the felt get, the more spotty the application becomes. If you’re looking for a more “bubbly” texture, let the felt sit for about two minutes after you’ve dampened it with ink. This glass has well-defined dots of Indigo, Eggplant and Cranberry.
If you’re nervous, practice on plastic! Grab a sleeve of disposable plastic tumblers and have at it! You’ll quickly learn what colors work best and what techniques give you the look you’re going for.
Don’t try to make them all look the same. It’s virtually impossible in the first place, and the true one of a kind nature of these hand painted beauties makes them special!
Above all, have fun. Whether you’re planning to use these pieces in your wedding decor or maybe just looking for an awesome DIY holiday gift, let your creativity guide you as you create something unique and gorgeous!