Broke-Ass Tag: DIY Inspiration


Affiliate Disclaimer NewDIY or DIE: Easy Ink-Stained Wine Glasses

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Multiple colored finished glasses

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Supplies

First, press a felt square onto your applicator tool.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Applicator and felt

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - ink color one

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - ink color two

Fill in any gaps with the third.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - ink color three

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Applying ink

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Applying more ink

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Fading ink

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.

Real Bride Shannon Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass Tutorial - Finishing touches

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.

Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass- Eggplant, Indigo and Currant

Be stingy with blue. This glass used Indigo, Slate and Eggplant, but the blue overpowered the gray and purple.

Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass- Indigo, Egglplant and Slate

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.

Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass- Cranberry, Currant and Eggplant

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.

Alcohol Ink Stained Wine Glass- Indigo, Eggplant, 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!

  • 10/14

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewI have to say, I’m pretty proud of how my wedding invitations turned out. I didn’t realize invitations were even something I cared about … until I did. Here I had come up with a whole big list of priorities and not-so-importants to try and be sure that I properly focused my efforts, limited funds, and time, and suddenly I realized super late in the game that something that was on List Two belonged on List One.

    A shifting set of priorities isn’t always something that’s easy to acknowledge when you’re a Broke-Ass. It can mean you might be stuck paying more for something than you originally hoped and planned to. Our invitations were all set: They came with our wedding package from our venue. All we had to do was pick them out, send them our details and slap a stamp on them. Now, as we looked through the invitations available from our venue, and while they were all very beautiful none felt like us. If we didn’t use our venue’s invite, we had the option of receiving a credit instead, so we looked elsewhere but everything we looked at seemed to run in the thousands of dollars — way more than the credit we’d be offered. We seemed to be stuck. We’d have to compromise our vision.

    Then I remembered something: Way back when we purchased our memorial candle for the wedding, we went out right after the fact and grabbed a couple of sets of printable invitations in the clearance section of Walmart. They were $4 a piece with 50 invites in each box and contained the envelopes and RSVP cards. We had bought them just in case. We figured if we didn’t use them, we’d sell them in a Facebook Yard Sale. Time was getting short s,o we decided we’d just use them. Matt loaded them into our printer, we chose some some nice wording and after weeks of ironing out our ceremony details, we printed out the invites and the RSVP cards.


    When they were all printed, I realized that they didn’t really solve our problem: I still wasn’t really happy with what we were sending out. So I improvised! I looked around online for ways to dress them up. The simplest way seemed to be a pocketfold. I found a place nearby that sold them but couldn’t get to it before I’d need to send the invites out. It would’ve cost us about $70 more with them, but that’s not including the added weight that might’ve ended up costing us extra postage. Instead, I decided to take a trip to the craft store.

    Matt, one of my bridesmaids and I took a trip to Michael’s craft store after work one night. I was in a straight-up panic. I wandered in a frenzy through the aisles looking for anything that might dress the invites up just enough to stave off my mania. And then I found books of red cardstock. They were all different shades. I was a little bit iffy on using them … I mean you’re supposed to order your bridesmaids dresses all at the same time to make sure they’re the same hue. Shouldn’t it be the same with invites? But here’s the thing: Not all your guests will see your invites at the same time. Even the most eagle-eyed observer might miss the difference in coloring. So we grabbed it. There were 50 pages of cardstock in the book, and the book itself was $5.00. We got two. Suddenly a plan was forming. The cardstock wasn’t big enough really make a pocketfold, but we could mount the invites we’d printed on it and go from there. I still wasn’t satisfied though. My bridesmaid brought up the idea of putting a ribbon around it, and suddenly it all came together. We searched through the ribbon and found just the right one and bought some spools of it (when all was said and done, that cost us around $15).

    At home, we put our supplies together. I found some double-sided tape lying around (I looked it up, it would’ve cost us around $8 for what we used). We grabbed the paper cutter and some scissors and went to town. We set up an assembly line. Matt cut the border on the invites down and then cut the cardstock to fit around it.

    Julie's fiance hard at work on their invitations

    I put the cardstock and the invite together using the double-sided tape and then put the ribbon around it and secured it, also using the double sided tape. It was beautiful … but there was still something missing.

    Enter Real Bride Shannon’s post about her invites! Even before we had any idea we’d be in this position with our invitations, I had bought the Epson printer she mentioned in her post because I knew it would come in handy somewhere. Yes, another impulse buy but it paid off in the end. The machine prints out beautiful printed personalized ribbons and it turned out to be just the right touch to make me feel sated in my search for the perfect invitation. The small details do indeed pack a big punch. We printed out 4-inch ribbons using the spool of beige ribbon that came with the printer and stuck them on top of the ribbon that was already encircling our invites. Voila! it was suddenly exactly what I was looking for. We did have to buy a second spool of ribbon (we mixed it up and did red with gold lettering this time), but all in all it worked out perfectly. The total cost of the printer was $69.99 on Amazon, and the ribbon was $20 a spool separately, but we still have a ton of ribbon to use and a printer that we can use for other wedding items and beyond. Without these ribbons, our invites had cost us around $40 so far. The last detail we added were some business cards a friend of mine designed with wording I gave her. I got them printed up for around $15 on cardstock and cut them down to size myself. They included the directions to the church and a request for dietary restrictions. Depending upon what you count for the cost of the invites themselves, we spent between $85-$150 total for  gorgeous set of invites we could really be proud of.

    The finished product of Julie's invitations
    Our invites with the red and gold … a few details have been blocked out.

    Even more so than that, these were definitely our invites. We had slaved over them for hours (and my cousins helped out too!) and stayed up late working on them. We spent hours watching movies and stuffing envelopes (which were addressed using our regular printer, no need for calligraphy for us), coming up with a whole new set of inside jokes along the way. At the end of the day, it was a much tougher route than just getting them printed elsewhere. But we saved  a ton of money … and even more importantly we did it our way.

    Real Bride julie's invitation suite

    Our final product complete with all information! This one is a little less crisp than the other because it was actually a return to sender that got lost in the mail for a bit.

    Note the extremely important self addressed inner envelope! There is nothing more embarrassing than getting one of these bad boys back and realizing you forgot to include the stamp.

    Not having a perfect plan in place, or having your plan fall apart doesn’t have to be the end of the world or mean that you’re going to end up stuck spending  ton of money (or with something you don’t love). Sometimes having what you think you want completely fall apart is the best way to have things fall together. Now, the RSVPs are rolling in, along with the compliments on our invitations. I can’t help but beam with pride whenever I think of them … not just because they’re pretty, but because they’re something beautiful my fiance and I created together.

    Have you had any frustrations turn into beautiful results? Share in the comments below!

  • 3/24

    I was over the moon when Jessica emailed me to say that she'd won free wedding photography from Beyond the Ordinary Photography's contest because she'd read about it in our newsletter, because it's always exciting when the work I've done has helped to make a real difference in someone's life. If you're already subscribed to our newsletter, you know that Beyond the Ordinary Photography is…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!