Sealing alcohol ink is one of the most commonly asked questions for folks getting started with alcohol ink art.   Laurie “Trumpt” Williams shows us one of the most common, proven methods for sealing and protecting your alcohol ink art work. 

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How to Seal Alcohol Ink Art

Several coats of UV protectant is highly recommended to help combat fading.  But applying the UV protectant directly to alcohol ink will cause the inks to activate and move. This is because many UV varnishes and protectants contain isopropyl or acetone. For this reason, it is essential to apply a sealer  that will not reactivate the inks. In my trials (and I’ve tried a lot of them), I have found that Krylon’s Kamar® Varnish  works great in “setting” the alcohol ink.  It’s important to note that Kamar® Varnish is UV stable, which means that it isn’t broken down by UV exposure.  However, this doesn’t mean that the art behind Kamar® is UV protected… hence the need for the second step of UV protectant.

Step 1.  Krylon Kamar® Varnish.

krylon kamar Varnish for Alcohol ink artStart with thoroughly dried alcohol ink art. Allow at least 24 hours or more for best results. In a well-ventilated area, spray artwork with 2-3 light coats, about 12-14 inches away from subject, allowing 30 minutes to an hour of drying time between layers.   After final coat, allow Kamar® to dry completely before proceeding to step 2.   The Krylon website states that it takes about 2 hours, but I find it takes longer depending on humidity levels. I typically wait at least 24 hours.   If you are spraying outdoors, bring the artwork in doors where the humidity level is less after a couple of hours.  Also, it is recommended to cover the artwork during drying time, with a plastic bin or lid that doesn’t touch the artwork, to prevent the accumulation of dust and lent particles in the air.

Step 2.  UV Protectant  (Krylon® UV-Resistant Clear Coating, Golden® Archival Varnish with UVLS or other)

Outdoors or very well-ventilated area, spray 2-3 light coats, allowing an hour drying time between layers.  Humidity will play a role in drying time. Note: In the testing done by Golden, they used 6 coats of UV spray!  I stop after 3 layers.

Step 3.  Finishing (optional)

If you are working with tile or artwork on board, you may want to finish the art with a gloss medium to add shine and additional protection.   Some common choices include Americana® Triple Thick Gloss Glaze, Krylon Preserve It® Spray, Gloss Finish and Art Resin™.  Make sure that the artwork has had sufficient time to dry and cure after steps 1 and 2 before applying a finish.   NOTE: Art Resin & Preserve It® Spray offer additional UV protection.

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Laurie "Trumpet" Williams is an alcohol ink artist and founder of the Alcohol Ink Art Community. She is also a digital marketing consultant helping artists and small businesses with online marketing strategies. Check out Laurie's full bio here: Laurie Trumpet Williams, Alcohol Ink Artist & Instructor.

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