Art Supplies, Art Techniques, Useful Information

Alcohol Ink Coasters Step by Step

When I started making decorative tile art I used to just seal them with a gloss spray but when I wanted them to be a little more functional I looked into resins. It’s definitely one of those projects where “you can buy these in the store for $35 or make them yourself with $100 of art supplies”. Now I have the supplies like the sander and the heat gun the cost is not quite so bad but if you want to make just a few then I recommend going shopping in Macys lol. Seriously though you can create some wonderfully unique art and gifts. And it’s fun❤️

After mostly trial and error these are the steps I follow for creating alcohol ink coasters.  Ensure you wear gloves and work in a well ventilated dust free area.  I use ArtResin as the epoxy resin when I seal my tiles and it is pretty much odorless but you still don’t want to be breathing it in. There are plenty of other resins out there but I like ArtResin because it’s guaranteed not to yellow and I have found mixing it and using it extremely easy.

image1. Wipe the tiles clean. I use alcohol or glass cleaning wipes to ensure I get rid of any grease or fingerprints.

2. Time to be creative. Create your patterns on your tiles with alcohol inks. I’ve found that if I use 4oz of the resin with 4oz of the hardener I can easily cover 16 tiles so I make 16 at a time and that’s just about the right number that you can easily work with without going crazy. You get about 45 minutes to work with the resin. I usually allow the inks to dry for at least 24 hours. If I use red inks I leave for up to 72 hours as I’ve had problems with red inks still being tacky days after I thought they were dry.😢 image

3. Seal your artwork.  Once the inks are dry I seal my tiles with engine enamel or Krylon’s Crystal Clear to ensure that when I pour the resin over it doesn’t react with the inks. I leave the sealant to dry for 24 hours.

4. Tape off the underside. I’ve made tiles and then had to spend too much time sanding off the resin that drips and hardens on the underside of the tile. Tip: Use decorators tape to cover the underside edges of the tiles then when the resin has hardened you can just take that off and saves all that sanding!

image5. Make up enough resin. Once the sealant is dry I mix the resin. As I said I usually work with 16 tiles at a time but if I have a commission for a set of four then 1 oz of each of the resin and hardener is more than enough. ArtResin recommend you stir the mixture for three minutes. I usually stir very slowly to minimize introducing bubbles into the resin. I also allow it to stand a couple of minutes to allow bubbles to rise to the top.

6. Apply the resin. Once I’m ready to apply the resin I place the tiles onto something like a votive, small tin or even small flowerpots to keep the tiles off the surface they are standing on. I usually put them in a box which I can then close when I’ve finished working the resin to ensure a dust free environment while the resin cures. I pour the resin into the middle of the tile then spread to the edgess using a sponge making sure there are no parts that are not resined. image

7. Burst those bubbles. I use a small heat gun to skim just above the surface of the resin which helps burst any tiny bubbles.

8. Cure cure cure.  I cover the box and leave the resin to cure for at least 24 hrs before I pull off the masking tape and then leave the tiles to cure for a further 48 hours.

image9. Add the cork. Once cured I spray the underside with spray adhesive and apply cork that I’ve cut into whichever shape tile I’m using. The cork sticks pretty well if you do it this way. If you don’t want to use Contact you can buy cork tiles to cut up or even 4 squares of cork cut perfectly to fit 4.25 inch tiles from places like Joann’s.

Update 2016. As of 2016 I use a new resin developed by artists for artists and have updated the post to show this.  ArtResin is available in a starter kit which is quite expensive compared to buying in larger quantities but if you like it as much as I do and you are going to do lots of resin art then it’s worth the cost.

Here’s the link to the ArtResin website where they have lots of other projects you can try.


More coaster projects

Stencil and Scrap Book Coasters 2012

Photo Coasters with cork backing 2011



17 thoughts on “Alcohol Ink Coasters Step by Step”

  1. Yours was the first I found that include epoxy resin. I’ve seen many using a sealant, but what added feature does using the epoxy resin provide? All was very helpful; thank you.

    1. Hi Roslyn – the only reason I use resin is because it makes then far more durable and people can use them with warm drinks. I wasn’t sure how high a temperature regular sprays and sealants would be. I don’t think I would use them to stand hot pans on in case it “melted” the resin. If you are just creating mini artwork on them just a spray of gloss would be sufficient – Maggie

      1. I’m very new to alcohol inks and thought that once dry, supposedly almost instantly, that they were good to go? They could only be reactivated with the use of Alcohol. A I wrong?

      2. Usually BUT they are affected by humidity, other chemicals, certain sprays, adhesives and a whole bunch of other things. On tiles you can even rub them off with your finger if you arent careful. Until they are sealed or behind glass there is always a chance the inks will be reactivated 🙁

  2. How did you make the outlines on the tile pattern that looks like peacock feathers? Thank you.

      1. I believe she was wondering the same thing I’d like to know…What did you use to draw the feather-like lines on the tiles that resemble peacock feathers? Masking solution, wax “crayon”, hot glue…? Whatever it is, I’m dying to run out to buy it & try it!

      2. Hi Amber – i used Fineline masking fluid to create the feather outline then filled each space with inks. I got mine from Michaels but i think they are considerably cheaper on Amazon (esp if you have Prime)

  3. Have you found your resin to melt away the purples greens, browns and yellows in your alcohol inks? I just did a batch and used a different brand called Enviotex Lite, and ruined all my beautiful tiles. It was recommended at Michael’s. I had sprayed some with a sealer first, which did fair a bit better, but still massive fading going on. They all look like 50 year old painting that sat in the sun too long. So sad.
    I love what you do and an inspiration to keep going.

    1. Oh my!!! I cannot believe that happened. I’ve had paintings fade very badly especially purple or red based ones. Certainly not as long lasting as acrylics or oils. Sorry that this happened to you

  4. In step 3 you say to seal the tiles with Engine Enamel or krylons crystal clear, you didn’t have any problems with those sealants lifting the ink right off the tiles??? I’ve tried a few different recommended sprays and varathane and they ruined my work! I also bought a “resin” Enviro Tek Lite, says its also a two part process, resin and hardener mixed together , says it’s nonyellowing , etc but i was going to mix and put directly on my alcohol ink tiles, (without spraying with either oneone of your choices)using this as my final try to keep the ink from lifting and running off the tiles, while providing “one thick coat equals 50 coats of varnish”! Says heat and alcohol “resistant “waterproof ,no polishing required… Idk what to do!!! Any suggestions

    1. The two I mentioned are the only ones that worked for me. It’s so frustrating isn’t it when you create something beautiful and it gets ruined by something that’s supposed to protect it.

  5. Thank you for sharing Maggie. I had bought tiles last year and wanted to make some but was so worried they would not hold up with hot drinks. Thanks l feel much better now.

  6. Hi Maggie, great step by step instructions! Love that you included little important things like the tape, epoxy measurements & drying times with red ink.

    1. Youre welcome – the red inks and occasionally purple are so frustrating if you see all your wonderful ink disappearing.

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