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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The Alcohol Ink Art Community is a community of artists who work with or want to learn to work with alcohol ink as an art medium.

70 Comments

  1. Trudy Thayer

    Thank you for this video. I have been trying this and that, which has gotten expensive of course, but I like the look achieved with the Krylon products. I shall use this for sure. Again, I appreciate the video.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Clara Russell

      Ranger alcohol inks have UV protection in them. Is there any need to use the UV spray also?

      Reply
      • Vonalda

        Elizabeth, no, alcohol inks do not have UV protection built into them. They actually all fade quite easily. The lighter colors will fade faster. They are similar to watercolors in this regard.

        Reply
      • smokki

        I have found that alcohol inks on yupo paper fade extensively with sunlight!

        Reply
    • Patricia Stark

      Thank you for sharing this helpful video…

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    I am trying to use alcohol inks on wine glasses. Any tips or suggestions?

    Reply
    • Quan Walker

      Does the technique used for sealing alcohol ink on yupo paper and ceramics also work on glass?

      Reply
    • Miranda

      Did you find an answer to this? I have been painting mugs recently and have yet to find a good, food safe sealer.

      Reply
      • Cathy

        I know that Mod Podge makes a food safe sealer.

        Reply
  3. Hilda Magilow

    Thanks so much for this video and instructions. I was unaware there is an optional third product to use when sealing alcohol ink. I now have the names of all the Kamar products I need to seal my inks.

    Reply
  4. Lisa Tripucka

    what would u use to seal inks on coasters made of tiles so they can be used.

    Reply
  5. Margie Graham

    I have a question. A friend of mine did a coaster with alcohol ink and it was sealed with several coats of Clear Acrylic Gloss. She used the coaster recently by setting a warm cup on it and the ink came off on the cup. Do you have any suggestions for another finish so that you can put a warm beverage on them?

    Reply
    • susan

      Hi, I used ArtResin to protect coasters, hot plates, etc. Leaves a great finish and is top choice to protect your art.

      Reply
    • Jaime

      I’d use resin.

      Reply
  6. Heather Ensminger

    I, too, am interested to how to finish a tile so it can be used as a coaster for hot and cold beverages. Could you please help?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Yes. I will create a new blog post with options for creating hot plates and coasters that can withstand heat!

      Reply
  7. Annemiek Zwegers

    Hi,
    My question is whether you can also buy these products in the Netherlands and if so, where?
    On the internet I only find stores abroad and that is not convenient.
    Or maybe someone knows what a suitable alternative is.

    Thank you very much.
    Annemiek.

    Reply
  8. Katie Hieggelke

    Hi! do you know why I get a grainy finish after the triple thick glaze? Am I spraying too quickly? Too far away? thoughts?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      There may be several reasons that this happens. 1. Make sure to minimize the possibility of dust by placing something over your artwork between each layer. 2. You may be spraying too close. Make sure you are about 8 to 10 inches away and spray as you move across, not straight-on or 3. You may not be waiting long enough between your layers. You need to give it plenty of time to dry. I hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Susan Krause

        I recently experienced this same GRITTY finish using the Kamar Triple Thick spray. I’ve used it numerous times before without a problem, but think this was a defective can? Unfortunately I was spraying multiple pieces which not only I created, but two friends I invited to teach. Any ideas how to remedy this. Perhaps fine steel wool and then, trying the BRUSH ON Americana Triple Thick Glaze?? HELP!

        Reply
        • Alcohol Ink Art Community

          Susan. This is definitely an unwanted result! Yikes! I know this can happen if we spray too closely or it captures dust particles. I would maybe take a test piece from the batch or one that is not one of your students and VERY lightly sand it with a very fine grit sand paper… Wipe it with a damp cloth and try spraying another coat. I can’t say this will help, but if were in the situation, I would try this.

          Reply
          • Sue K

            Thanks for responding. I used 000 steel wool and “gently” went over the entire tile. VOILA! All grit was gone — however the chalky dullness remained and then some. I purchased DecoArt Triple Thick Brush On Glaze and applied a thin coat and it brought the bright color back to the tile instantly!

  9. Staci Autry

    I am new to alcohol painting. After practicing on coaster size tiles I want to alcohol ink on ceramic floor tiles for my kitchen floor. Are the products you use the same as I would use to seal them?

    Reply
  10. Linda

    Hi,
    I am a beginner and it’s great fun!
    Cannot find Krylon Kamra varnish in Europe. Not even Amazon UK, Germany or Spain has it. Amazon Spain has the Krylon uv protection. What alternative to the Kamra varnish do you suggest I could use to seel my alcohol on yupo ? Or do you possibly know where I can get it here.
    Thanks for the great information you have on your page.
    Kind regards from Portugal
    Linda

    Reply
      • Cristina

        Have you tried this one with alcohol inks?, I’m also trying to find an european one and all the ones I’ve tried reactivate the ink. Thanks!

        Reply
      • Lauren Lucchese

        Thanks for the tipoff Anthony! For those in the UK I can confirm that the Golden Archival Varnishes work instead of all the Kamar products for sealing on Yupo paper (would also work on tiles & coasters but don’t know about heat resistance/proofing) – this would be your one-stop-shop-product. I spent a long time trying to find the Kamar products in the UK but are always expensive and usually out of stock. This range of Golden products is your alternative and will not reactivate the ink; You need around a 91%+ alcohol content in a substance to activate alcohol inks and these varnishes have around 50%. As most UV protectant varnishes contain alcohol or acetone this is no surprise, but it stands to reason that perhaps any UV varnish with a lower than 70% alcohol content (to be safe) would probably work too? I hope this is helpful for those, like me, who spent days trying to find an alternative varnish/sealant to the Kamar.

        Reply
      • Judy H

        Hi Anthony. Do you know if it works on alcohol ink? It tends to run with some products.

        Reply
    • Anastasia

      Ho Linda did u find an alternative product for Krylon Kamar and UV archival spray? I am in Switzerland and cant find Krylon juat like u –

      Reply
      • sunday

        Would like to second this inquiry, I’m in the UK and can’t find Kamar. I need it for alcohol ink on Yupo. Thanks!

        Reply
  11. Debra L Snyder

    I used the Kyrlon Kamar Varnish spray on my tiles and found the finished product to be rough and the spray coat is visible in the light. I’m wondering why this occurred. Is it supposed to leave a rough texture or did I spray it improperly? I was expecting it to finish smooth and glossy.
    Also when I sprayed the Krylon Triple Thick (24 hours after spraying with Kamar Varnish) some ink was activated and spread. The only conclusion I can come up with is that perhaps I sprayed too close to the tile.. could that be the cause?

    Reply
  12. Malini

    Can alcohol ink art tiles be used as accent tiles in a shower stall?

    Reply
    • Cathlyn Driscoll

      Hi Malini,
      You can use the tiles in a shower if you seal them with resin. However you will have to avoid using caustic or harsh cleaners on them no ajax or comet etc. only use gentle soaps and water to avoid scratching and discoloration. ~ Cathlyn

      Reply
  13. Luba Ryder

    If I put my alcohol ink painting on Yupo paper behind a glass frame do I still need to seal it or does the glass protect it enough?

    Reply
    • Smokki

      I framed my alcohol ink yupo paper behind glass, it faded.

      Reply
      • Michelle

        You have to use conservation UV glass.

        Reply
  14. Linda

    How do you keep the ceramic tiles from scratching? I sprayed them with duplicolor acrylic enamel that you recommend but it does scratch. I also need them to be heat proof.

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Hi Linda. I think pretty much any surface can scratch. Many folks use Art Resin or other resin to seal them and that’s pretty durable, but the do have a maximum heat threshold. I’ve heard of people using engine enamel that can hold up to temperatures of 500 degrees F.

      Reply
  15. Judy

    Is it necessary to use the Triple Thick glaze coating on glass pieces that have been painted with alcohol ink and sealed with Kamar Varnish and UV protectant?

    Reply
  16. Kim L

    Hi Laurie,
    Thank you for this information. How long should wait between the UV and the Triple Thick? Also, how many layers of Triple Thick should I apply?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      If you have the time, 24 hours would be best to give the Kamar and the UV time to cure… But I have done it as soon as 2 hours later.

      Reply
  17. Mary

    I’m VERY new to Alcohol Inks and am intrigued as is my teen Grandson. We tried the Alcohol Ink on Ceramic Tiles and they came out beautiful. I had him initial and date his art with a Permanent Sharpie Marker, then used the spray Mod Podge very lightly to seal. The first tile I sprayed the Mod Podge spray caused the Sharpie to dissolve and run, so I decided I needed to spray even lighter. I ended up spraying 3 very light coats, then wanted to cover the tiles with Mod Podge dishwasher safe to make them more durable and usable…and the alcohol ink DISSOLVED (even though I had sprayed them 3 times and let each coat dry over 24 hours). I went back and read many different suggestions for sealing so I’m REALLY confused now. I don’t think I’m ready for Resin just yet. Next time should I just build up MORE layers of the Mod Podge spray and hope they don’t get a lot of use?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Hi Mary.
      Mod Podge will reactivate the inks. We recommend a light layer or two of spray Krylon Kamar Varnish. That is the only thing I’ve found that will “fix” the ink without reactivating them. then you can use your dishwasher safe mod podge over the top. I’m not sure how food-safe that mod podge is, but I know Art Resin is food safe. Here are a couple of link to help.

      How to Seal Alcohol Ink Art

      ArtResin is Food Safe and Non-Toxic

      Reply
      • Kelly

        Hi,

        I’ve never had any issues with the UV spray until now. I’m working on a gloss aluminium panel. I sprayed about 4 coats and of Krylon varnish and have waited 18 hours. When I tried to spray the UV it has reactivated the inks slightly. Any recommendations as to why this would happen?

        Reply
        • Alcohol Ink Art Community

          Hmmm. No. Unless there was a defect with your can of Kamar. Krylon Kamar is used to fix the inks… it’s the only thing I know that works. Then I use the UV on top of it.

          Reply
  18. Maria

    Been reading everything I can find! Trying to find the best solution for alcohol inks on mugs! The dishwasher safe mod podge leaves so many brush strokes.
    I don’t want a finished product that people can’t drink out of!! Help! I have the Kamar Varnish, which I did apply first. Wish that was all it needed! Would that ‘cure’ enough to be ‘safe’?
    Thanks in advance…

    Reply
    • Lisa Reece

      It probably depends on ur modpodge in my opinion (layers,thickness,cure time between,etc). “Dishwasher safe” modpodge takes weeks to fully cure, but doesn’t withstand heat/scratches like a 2-part epoxy resin does…. if u want something more permanent and durable, definitely find a good uv protectant resin, or uv protectant spray before resin…KAMAR VARNISH Is recommended as the FIRST sealant to use on any ALCOHOL INK projects though

      Reply
  19. Amanda

    I used the kamar on a wood grain cup I did with alcohol. I did 3 coats of the kamar waited 25 hours then did a coat of the UV. It has now turned my alcohol ink green. Is that normal? When I epoxy it will it dry brown or stay the green color?

    Reply
  20. matdy

    Are there any UK users out there who have found a good sealer? Kamar isn’t available here (well, it is but I’m not spending £30 for one spray bottle). Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  21. Ginny Schulz

    I’m doing a large alcohol painting on canvas. Does the same sealing process apply?

    Reply
  22. Lee Crane

    If I want to use a gel ink pen over my alcohol ink art, do I seal the artwork first prior to using the gel pen or complete the artwork, embellish with the gel ink pen & then seal? Appreciate your advice.

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      You do not have to seal, if the ink is completely dry. Sometimes people do like to give it a couple of light coats of Kamar Varnish then let dry. If you have some varnish, you could try both way to see which is more desirable for you!

      Reply
  23. Debbie

    I painted a ceramic tile using alcohol inks and 24 hours later the ink is disappearing. Could this be to using blending solution and 91% alcohol? Or ???

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Debbie, my first guess is that there is some sort of residue on the ceramic mug. Sometimes even when you clean ceramic, minerals come to the surface and can repel the ink. I’ve also seen this happen with ceramic tiles a lot! It’s a real pain. My only suggestion is to maybe try cleaning then baking the cup in the oven on low heat for a while… then try again. Sorry this happened!

      Reply
  24. Rebecca Behnke

    Is there an alternative to sprays? Weather is very uncooperative in regards to allowing spraying outdoors, and I don’t have a well ventilated area inside to use. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      You could try a water-based medium that is brush-on. I’ve used Liquitex gloss medium before, but you have to let the alcohol ink dry for a few days before adding it and do it in quick strokes and don’t go back and forth with the brush too much.

      Reply
  25. Lynn Tjerne

    I am doing some mugs and have all the products for sealing but would like to know if I need to spray the sealant all the way to the top of the mug or do I tape it off? thank you.

    Reply
  26. Y L

    If you were to make a splashback out of alcoholic ink how would you seal them so the art work doesn’t fade when in contact with water or when cleaned down with cleaning products?

    Reply
  27. Mary

    I purchased a journal at Michaels that is blank and my plan is to paint the cover using alcohol inks. Have you ever done one? I am wondering if I need to prep it with something like Gesso or Kilz 2 to keep it from absorbing the ink. Then, how can I seal it so it is safe to handle? Thank you.

    Reply
  28. Clare

    Hi, can anyone tell me whether it is possible to paint very thinly in oils over the top of a completely dry alcohol ink painting done on claybord?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Yes. That should work. I would test a piece first. To be safe, I would use 2-3 light spray coats of Kamar Varnish to fix the ink.

      Reply
  29. Monica Fitzmaurice

    I had sprayed 3 coats with Kamar and then 3 with the Krylon UV. By accident I made a scrape and when I added a bit of AI with color it lifted the ink in the area. Is this normal?

    Reply
  30. Sam

    For the Krylon UV spray, is it best to use the gloss or matte version please ? I’ll be coating mine in resin after applying the UV spray, if that makes a difference…

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      I believe that some of the resin brands have the UV built in. But for the spray, you can use the Matte or Glossy.

      Reply
  31. Kat

    I have sprayed my ceramic pots with kamar varnish and krylon uv protectant.
    To make the pots extra glossy and shiny can I add krylon crystal clear glaze? Or what can I use as a final spray to make it high gloss?

    Reply
  32. Helen

    I’m also new to alcohol ink painting. I’m using a combination of Ranger inks and home made inks from sharpie pens applied to white Yupo paper. I’ve used the inks previously on silk scarves with moderate success.

    Even after 24 hours, the colours seem to smudge on the paper. I tried it on a glass vase and sealed it with 3 coats of Kamar

    The humidity level in my studio is 68%…..does this affect the drying?
    Can I still apply the Kamar varnish to the Yuko paper even if there is some smudging?

    Reply
    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Humidity does affect dry times, but 24 hours is usually plenty of time for drying. Smudging isn’t normal. I’m curious. If you tested with Ranger only, do those smudge?

      Reply

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