Saturday, August 29, 2009

Product Test: Refillable Alcohol Ink Pen and Oil-Based Sharpies

A few weeks ago, I bought one of the refillable Adirondack Alcohol Ink pens at Collage here in Portland so that I could try it out . . . you buy them empty, and can fill them with any color of alcohol inks you choose!

I love using alcohol inks, and I've been playing around with alcohol inks on metal washers and on plexiglass panels. Alcohol inks can be used on non-porous surfaces, and they leave a very thin film of color. One of the challenges working with them, though, is controlling the application of the ink. I was excited when I saw that Ranger had come out with refillable alcohol ink pens.

I filled this one with black alcohol ink and tested it out on this piece of plexiglass. The white part of the plexiglass background has been sanded with a fine sanding block. The pens have a wide brush nib and a narrow fine tip nib. The writing above is with the broad nib - I had a hard time photographing the writing with the fine nib on the plexiglass, and the black ink didn't show up too well on the metal washer, either.

I like the effect of alcohol inks best when you build up layers. The pen lets you apply thin, precise layers, but it doesn't have a very bold line. That said, it is visible on the plexiglass, and I think the lettering with the large brush nib is beautiful! If you're looking for a bold line on a non-porous surface, try one of the Sharpie opaque oil-based paint pens.

The regular Sharpie is a little grayed out on plexiglass, and (though it's hard to see it in this photo) the water-based Sharpie Paint pen tends to bead up a little bit on the non-porous surface. The water-based Sharpie Paint pen also bled when I coated the unsanded part of the plexiglass with Diamond Glaze as a protective coating.

Yup, it's a total product geek-out. But it's all for a good cause - I'm refining a class about painting on plexiglass panels - I love how you can layer them, and really see through the layers! I've sent in a proposal to Art and Soul for 2010 - we'll see how it goes!


narokee said...

So would you suggest the alcohol ink pens as a sound purchase, especially when you have to buy one for every color you have?

Bridget B. said...

My vote was no. I tend to like bolder lines, and actually enjoy the lack of control that is inherent in my use of alcohol inks! The color, when applied with the pen, was just too muted for my taste . . .