Last December, I picked up a four-pack of clear glass ornaments at Michaels, thinking I’d do something with them for the holidays. As it turned out, “do something with” meant “put in a bin and forget about.” Whoops. The good news is that I stumbled across them this week and got very excited about the prospect of making simple, elegant Halloween ornaments using paint and alcohol inks. If you don’t have the notoriously pricey name brand alcohol inks, you can make your own using rubbing alcohol and liquid dye. (There are recipes and videos online.) Whether you spend money or time to get your alcohol inks, the results are worth your while, because these ornaments look all kinds of crazy cool!
- Clear glass ornaments with a flat surface on the front
- Images of your choice printed from the computer
- Krylon “Preserve It” spray or other glossy sealant with UV protection (you can use a brush-on varnish if it won’t make your printer ink smear)
- Scissors or circle punch
- Acrylic paint in white, antique white, beige, or (if you like a shimmer in your work) metallic gold
- Alcohol ink and a sponge or dauber
- Glue or glue stick
- Beads, nail head stickers, ribbon, and/or other embellishments
1. Select your images on the computer and size them so that the focal point will fit nicely on your ornaments. Print the images and let them dry for a minute or two. Holding the paper upright, spray with “Preserve It” or other product. (“Preserve It” is designed to prolong the life of printed things, which is why I chose it.) Set the images aside to dry.
2. Meanwhile, remove the metallic top from the glass ornament and pour craft paint directly into the ornament’s mouth. You may need more than you think, so err on the side of more paint, rather than less. Swirl the paint to cover the glass.
Keep going until you have all the glass covered, adding more paint as necessary. When you’re finished, you can turn the ornament upside down over your open paint bottle to let the excess paint drip out. In an ideal world, you might let the ornament dry for a few hours, but if you have limited time for crafting, go check Facebook or fold socks or separate your children / grandchildren / cats / art supplies. When you come back, wipe the mouth of the ornament and press on!
3. Grab your alcohol inks and your sponge or dauber. Here’s the happy little color family I used.
Squeeze a few drops of whatever color you want to start with onto the dauber and get to daubing. Add other colors into the mix whenever and wherever you like. This is art, not science, so just play. Your results can vary widely in appearance, but they’re all pretty:
If you want to, you can also daub alcohol ink onto the hardware:
If you absolutely hate something you’ve done, by the way, just pour regular rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and wipe the spot (or the whole ornament) clean.
4. Once you’ve finished inking your ornament, cut out your image (or use your punch) and glue it to the front.
5. Embellish the ornament however you like and add a ribbon for hanging. I used nailhead stickers and my stash of Halloween ribbons to create a terrible trio of ornaments for Halloween: Edgar Allan Poe; his wife, Virginia; and that damned tell-tale heart!
In person, these are so simple to make but so fabulous to behold that you might have to make bunches of them as Christmas presents. Just change the images, in fact, and you can make them for any occasion you like!
Melissa CatsCradle Hart · October 5, 2012 at 10:29 am
Wonderful idea as usual! I have a bunch of plastic ornaments that can take this technique as well!
AnnDAngelo · October 5, 2012 at 10:47 am
Thanks, Melissa! And yes, absolutely – the technique should work great on the plastic! I didn't think of that!
Joni Owens · October 5, 2012 at 10:33 am
I love the idea! I don’t know if I can find the balls with the flat side, haven’t seen any in my area but I love the marbled effect you get with the inks – I think I would like to make some just like that even if I didn’t put on an image. Maybe do some both ways – I think the look you got with the inks is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
AnnDAngelo · October 5, 2012 at 10:50 am
Joni, what a lovely comment! Thank you so much! I haven't worked with alcohol inks as extensively as a lot of people, and I was ASTOUNDED by how gorgeous these turned out. it certainly had nothing to do with my skill level in using the medium, which is great news, since it means even beginners can get great effects, while the more experienced can . . . I don't even know! Put the Sistine Chapel to shame? 😉
They really are a fun project with a big wow, so I hope you have as much fun as I did!
Connie · October 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Really gorgeous, Ann!
AnnDAngelo · October 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Thanks, Connie! <3
Russell Black · October 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm
I was fortunate enough to see a couple of these in person and they truly are spectacular.
AnnDAngelo · October 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm
What a wonderful thing to post, Russell! Thank you!
Taher32 · April 25, 2017 at 2:48 am
I like your post.
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