How to Color Glass with Alcohol Ink (+ how to seal it!)

colored glass in sea green and blue
Transform glass pieces with color.

“How to color glass”, “how to tint glass”, and “how to dye glass” were my top searches for months when researching my DIY multicolor Christmas lights project! I learned so much about different painting on glass options, and tons about using alcohol inks on glass specifically! So much so, that I wanted to give the topic of alcohol ink on glass its own post. Even after figuring out that alcohol ink could be used on glass, finding the best ways to apply it and to seal it were their own complex missions. You’ll find all of the best information I gleaned and employed in this article! Godspeed!

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how to dye glass

Tips for Coloring Glass

  • What kind of glass to color?
    • You can use any kind of glass! I also colored LED lightbulbs for this strand of multicolor lights that I made.
    • Cut glass pieces are great because the cut designs hide any potential steaks or imperfections.  I thrifted mine at my local Goodwill! Also, inking the bottom of cut glass pieces means the inside can be used for many purposes without fear of wear and tear on the finish.
    • Keep in mind that large, smooth glass pieces will be harder to achieve smooth, even finishes on.
  • Remember, it’s not food safe!
    • Don’t color anything you plan to eat or drink out of with alcohol ink. I’ve heard of people coloring areas that aren’t going to come in contact directly with food, but I won’t personally recommend it. I also have no idea how the pieces would hold up to being washed!
    • Alcohol inked glass will work great as candle vessels, jewelry dishes, soap dishes, flower vases, or cups for organizing pencils or makeup brushes.

Tips for Working with Alcohol Inks on Glass

  • Work quickly
  • Alcohol ink is forgiving
    • If the piece you’ve inked isn’t to your liking, you can wipe it off with isopropyl alcohol and start over. 
  • Why foam?
    • Foam is the best tool I’ve found for making even, smooth coats of alcohol ink on glass.
    • Alcohol ink can be applied to glass with paint brushes or by directly dripping from the bottle, but for an even coat, I like foam. 
    • More details on what kind of foam in the materials list!
  • Order of operations
    • Depending on what you’re painting, you could used the blending solution directly on the foam before the color is added (as I did for my colored lightbulbs.) This works best for smaller surfaces.
    • For these cut glass pieces, I found it worked better to first spread the blending solution on the glass, followed by the ink.
  • It needs to be sealed
    • Alcohol ink on glass is not permanent until it has been sealed. 
    • Though it may feel dry to the touch, alcohol ink can be reactivated by any kind of moisture until it has been sealed with UV archival spray
DIY tinted glass with alcohol ink

Materials for Tinting Glass

  • Alcohol inks
    • I have been using Ranger alcohol inks. Here is a set of 3 with similar blues.
    • People also seem to like Piñata brand inks.
  • Alcohol ink blending solution
    • Available from Blick (best price!), Michael’s, and Amazon  
    • 90% isopropyl alcohol can be used instead of blending solution, but is not as thick which may cause color to sit in the seams of the glass. 
    • I have also used 70% isopropyl alcohol, but it dilutes the color more.
  • Glass pieces to paint
    • Cut glass pieces are user friendly because any streaks in the color will be hidden pretty well by the glass’s patterns. (These are also usually pretty easy to thrift!)
  • Any kind of foam
    • You will need several 1-2” pieces 
    • I used some leftover furniture cushion foam, but you could also use a foam sponge, foam craft brush, or (I’ve heard, but haven’t tried) a magic eraser.
    • You can also use a paintbrush, but foam is quicker and covers the glass more evenly.
  • 1-2 binder clips
    • This is optional, but binder clips will hold the foam to keep your fingers clean
    • Alternatively, wear gloves!
  • Isopropyl alcohol for cleanup 
  • A work surface
    • Alcohol ink can be a little messy. Even though it can be removed from many surfaces with isopropyl alcohol, I think its best to put something protective down. I use a thick vinyl tablecloth that I wipe down with rubbing alcohol afterwards.
  • UV archival spray

How to Color Glass with Alcohol Ink, Step by Step

using foam to apply alcohol ink

First, prepare your foam. Cut into 1-2” pieces. I used one piece of foam for each color, and some I reused when making blended colors. You will also need one spare piece of foam for spreading the blending solution.

foam for alcohol ink application

Use the binder clip to pinch the foam, this will keep your hands clean. Alternatively, you could wear gloves!

alcohol inks and alcohol ink blending solution

Gather the inks you want to use and shake them well.

make your own colored glass

Remember, alcohol ink dries quickly, so the quicker you can do the next steps, the better your result will be. Place cut glass pieces upside down as shown. Squirt a little blending solution directly onto to glass.

alcohol ink blending solution applied with foam

Then use a clean piece of foam to spread it all around the surface that is to be colored. (You do not need a binder clip on this piece of foam.)

foam applicator for alcohol ink on glass

Squirt a little of your desired color onto the prepared binder clipped foam. If you want to blend colors together, squirt them both onto the foam.

applying alcohol ink to glass

Quickly pat, rub, and spread the ink all over the glass. 

how to dye glass with alcohol ink

Ta da! After a few minutes the ink will be “dry”, but can still transfer to your fingers if handled too much.

how to clean off alcohol ink

To clean up skin and binder clips, use isopropyl alcohol.

sealing alcohol ink on glass uv archival

Last, seal the pieces by spraying them with UV archival spray. I did two light, even coats 15 minutes apart. 

alcohol ink dyed glass

That’s it! Enjoy your glass pieces! I plan to pour candles in mine.

I hope this post helped to give you a jumping off point into the world of alcohol ink on glass! There are endless cool ways to to use alcohol inks on glass besides what I’ve gone into here, so I hope you’ll explore more now that you’ve got the basics!

Thanks for reading!

how to make alcohol ink on glass permanent
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