Alcohol Ink Gourd Art

Alcohol inks are a great medium to use to decorate gourds.  It is a fun and easy technique that offers endless artistic possibilities.

What Are Alcohol Inks?

Alcohol inks are alcohol-based transparent pigments.  They are made from the same ink that can be found in permanent markers but diluted and put in a bottle so that they can be dripped, splattered, and dropped creating many beautiful patterns.  They can also be applied by rubbing them on the surface much like staining wood.  After applying the ink, it can be moved and mixed using rubbing alcohol allowing for lots of artistic effects.

Alcohol inks can be made cheaply at home with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol or bought at a store.  In my experience, the store bought inks are much more concentrated and hence last longer than the homemade version.  Because of this, I did not notice a huge price saving in making alcohol inks at home.  

As an environmentalist, I love to make homemade alcohol inks with permanent markers that no longer work.  Even when there is not enough ink to write with the marker, there will still be plenty left inside the tube to make alcohol ink.  But I wouldn’t buy markers for the sole purpose of making alcohol inks.

Alcohol Ink Techniques on Gourds

When using alcohol inks for the first time there is a bit of a learning curve. Unlike paint, alcohol inks flow and can be moved around even sometimes after it dries.  This takes some getting used to before you feel in control of your artwork.  

Alcohol inks on gourds pose a unique challenge that most alcohol ink projects do not because the gourd is rounded.  The inks will naturally flow around the curves as they are applied, adding lots of character as well as challenges when using alcohol inks on gourds. 

Gourds are also somewhat porous, unlike the glass or ceramic that is often used for this medium.  Because of this the color soaks into the surface of the gourds and therefore cannot be moved around, manipulated, or completely removed like it can on most projects. 

I recommend playing a bit with the inks to get a feel for it.  You can practice on a glass bowl or jar if you have limited gourds.  It took me about three gourds before I really liked the end result.

Alcohol Ink Methods 

  • rubbing
  • dripping
  • layers
  • rubbing alcohol spray bottle
  • flowers and other pictures

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