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Alcohol Ink Bottle Lights (a 10-minute DIY)

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Alcohol Ink Bottle Lights are an easy 10-minute project that look great during the day and spectacular at night. Perfect indoors or out!

Look, I get it, you’re a busy woman. It’s hard to find time to do all the things in a day you’d like to do. What with all the ass-kicking and name-taking you do on a daily basis, who’s got time for crafting and DIY? Or maybe you’re just lazy like I am (ha! good luck with that one, sister! I’m the KING of lazy!) and want to get some sweet-looking results without squandering your precious energy and time.

Well, madam, this post is for you. I’m going to show you how to make some awesome alcohol ink bottle lights that will only take about 10 minutes of your life, and then you can get back to what you do best: punching life in the gob and stealing its lunch money.

Hell, I’ll even cut my usual pre-post yapping to a minimum, so you can get on with your neon life!

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How to Make Alcohol Ink Bottle Lights

First, grab a bottle.

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I prefer whiskey or rum, because they come in cool shapes, but if drinking like a pirate isn’t your bag, then you grab whatever bottle floats your boat. I used Blanton’s Bourbon bottles.

Next, prepare a surface for your project. Alcohol ink can be messy and stainy, so you want to protect your environment. I used a baking tray covered in aluminum foil and topped it with a paper towel.

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Pick your colors. I like to keep things simple – some blues and a yellow. They’ll mix and make some green. But feel free to use whatever colors you like.

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Now, you may have seen some folks do alcohol ink projects where they put the ink inside the bottle. Seems like a good idea, right? Well, I tried it that way, but I had much better results applying the ink to the outside, at least for bottles with narrow mouths like the ones I used. When applied to the inside of a bottle with no ventilation, the alcohol vapors stay in the bottle and keep the ink from drying, and in fact make the ink all run down the sides and pool at the bottom of the bottle.

I started with my darkest blue.

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I squeezed it out and let it drip down the side of the bottle. This is easy stuff here, madam. No skill required.

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I repeated this about 5 times around the bottle.

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In some places, I started the drip halfway down.

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Next, I moved onto the light blue and applied it to the places in-between the dark blue.

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There’s no right or wrong here. Just squeeeeeeezin’ out some color.

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And finally, I applied the yellow in the same way as the blues. Occasionally, I would drip some yellow over the blues to create a green run.

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I cycled through the colors again, just filling in dead space.

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When I was satisfied with the coverage, I gave it about 20 minutes or so to dry.

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And then I took it outside for 3 coats of Rustoleum Triple Thick Glaze.

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Once the glaze had dried, I inserted the fairy lights…

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…and my alcohol ink bottle lights were done!

Not including wait times for the ink and glaze to dry, this project took less than 10 minutes. You could make some alcohol ink bottle lights during the commercial breaks of a half hour sitcom! Now that’s productivity!

Enjoy the beauty shots, and have fun with your alcohol ink!

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75 Comments

  1. Ahhhhhh yes, this madam LOVES the idea and the way the lights and colors dance on the walls. I do believe Shaun has some very expensive rum hidden away somewhere and it’s in the coolest bottle ever. Do you think he’ll be mad if I pour it into a cheap bottle and copy your idea 😉

    1. Do you think this would stay looking great if done on an item and left outside? I have a gazing ball that needs some sprucing up.

      1. It sure would, Crystal. For extra protection, I would give it 3 or 4 good coats of triple thick glaze and then several coats of glossy spray lacquer. You could also use spray-on spar urethane – it’s made for severe outdoor weather, but keep in mind that it yellows a bit, so it wouldn’t be the best choice on white or clear objects.

          1. Hi there,

            I make outdoor garden art, but have yet to find a waterproof, UV protectant in clear for my glass and ceramic and even sometimes plastic and metal art, that doesn’t leave a residue and dull the shine. Does the product you are referring to leave a haze, little spots or make it dull or almost gritty to the touch? I really need to find something preferably in a spray. Do tell, please

            Julie
            JuJu’s Bloomers Owner/designer

    1. The switch is small and doesn’t show much when turned to the back. You can see it if you’re looking for it, but it hides well enough in photos 🙂

    2. So, I just found this project, but before I could even read about the project itself, I got sucked into several days of the “about us” stories….it was addicting as you said, but….it left off at India….so where’s the rest? ? Ordering some inks now, thanks!

      1. Hi Sherry and welcome! I know, I kinda left off right near the end. One of these days I’ll get around to finishing the story. Glad you found us and happy you’ll be trying this project! 🙂

  2. Stunning! What a great use of empty bottles! Do you know if you can buy the alcohol inks in craft stores or Walmart? Can you hand wash the bottles with this ink on them?

    1. Thank you, Jana! Walmart doesn’t carry them in store, but you can find them at Michaels. Once the bottles are sealed with triple thick glaze (or any spray-on polyurethane), they can be hand washed with no problems.

  3. My husband LOVES his crafty wife, because I keep telling him DRINK MORE (and I join him) because I NEED those cool bottles. Bourbon & Whiskey have some cool ass bottles! Now…I just need to get me some alcohol ink…..too bad we don’t need to drink those too…haha~
    ps: nice project!

    1. Hi Lisa, sounds like he makes out like a bandit! I have a few delicious suggestions for good bottles that you’ll both love, lol!

  4. So pretty! Guess I better go buy some alcohol in cool bottles! I’m more of a wine person but for this project I’m willing to make the exception! ?

  5. When I saw the first pictures I was “well, that looks like a wet mess.” But your finished bottles are gorgeous….good work.

  6. I’m not sure which I enjoy more, your crafts or the satirical commentary! Actually, love them both! Keep up the great work, please.

  7. Super cool! I really want to try this. But I’m not s drinker and I don’t want to buy those boring bottles! Haha! Can you please share the brand of liquor that bottle you have in the first picture came in?? I have lots of friends who drink so I need to ask them to save their bottles for me! Thank you! You guys are awesome! Oh, and I read (almost all of) your “about me” sects. I must say, not only is it a beautiful story to share, but you’re very talented in your story telling! Not many people can be so detailed that you’re able to visualize the story, but most who do go into detail lose me a very short time in and I’m totally oblivious to what they’ve said! I did get interrupted and haven’t gotten to finish it just yet (I’m in the process of moving), but I’m definitely going to go back and finish! You’re an amazing couple, and it’s so awesome to hear stories like yours!! Thanks again for all your awesome DIY’s, printables and all the fabulous content on your site!

    1. Thank you, Kaila! I used Blanton’s Bourbon bottles for the ones I made. I love the shape and how they refract the lights. So glad you’re enjoying our story. It’s been a pleasure sharing it with the world. 🙂

  8. Those bottles turned out beautifully; I’m wondering if I have anything on hand that would take to
    that treatment. It would make a great gift!

    1. Love the bottles. Gonna do it. But maybe your babe can solve a problem for me? Small kitchen no counter space. I want to do a pull out sink. Need to know what I can use for under sink plumbing? Only 3 cabinets to put things in. Maybe. I hope she can help solve problem. Thanks slot. Your blogs great. Just love reading it.

  9. Well done for a guy! No really absolutely GORGEOUS..Why use alcohol ink? Your reply’s are very amusing and very interesting that makes one want to keep reading…. Great Job!

  10. WOW !! pretty, i will try this, talk about a great idea, and it doesn’t take all day….thanx for the idea…i do have a question, its about the wall behind the bottles created…is that paint, like sponged on…like the texture, i’m deciding on an accent wall, so thanks again.

    1. Thank you, Nickie! That is a plain gray wall behind the bottles, but the light coming from them gives the wall a dappled effect. Pretty neat!

  11. I found a very large, old liquor bottle on my new neighbor’s property (he’s doing a teardown and said I was welcome to take anything I liked). Anyhow, it’s very wide with a narrow top and small loop. I want to tint it blue using alcohol ink and make it a vase. You’ve probably seen them at HL for $40+. If I used the application sponge could I apply the ink on the outside using one color? The other tinting methods I’ve found would require a ton of Mod Podge and probably never dry fully. I’ve had alcohol inks for years and never used them. To be honest I’m intimidated by them. Any advice or tips you may have will be extremely helpful and appreciated!

    1. Brandi, you have nothing to lose by trying. The beauty of alcohol inks are that they are alcohol soluble. If you don’t like the result, just wipe the bottle clean with a rag or some cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol! When using alcohol inks on the outside of a bottle, be sure you seal the inks with a clearcoat of some sort. I use Rust-Oleum’s Triple Thick Glaze, and it works beautifully. Good Luck!

  12. Very inspiring. Believe it or not but we Aussies also drink a lot!
    Now I drink for the love of art! I do have some stunning old bottles but they are dark glass. Do you think it might work on dark glass?
    Many, many thanks for sharing.
    Marilyn

    1. Thank you, Marilyn! Yes, I think I’ve heard about you Aussies taking the occasional cocktail…or several, lol! 😀 I don’t know how the inks would look on dark glass, but I think it’s worth a shot!

  13. It is -30 here today I sprayed my bottle outside quickly but when I came it was dripping and wet. We are in a cold spell Canada. Thanks and Help Roz

    1. Hi Roz, I want to make sure I understand. You sprayed your bottle outside when it was -30 and then brought it inside where it began to drip? What kind of spray sealant did you use?

        1. Hi Roz, I think the minimum recommended temperature to spray that product is +50f (10c), so if you sprayed when it was -30c (-22f), the poly and its solvent probably froze on the bottle on contact. When you brought the bottle back inside, everything likely melted. At that point though, it should have started to cure. Is that what happened? Or did the poly make the alcohol ink run? It shouldn’t have, because as I understand, Krylon’s poly doesn’t have the kind of solvents that would make the inks run. I know for sure that Rustoleum’s Triple Thick Glaze and Krylon’s Kamar Varnish work beautifully on alcohol inks, but I can’t say with certainty that Krylon’s polyurethane does as well.

  14. Wow, these are gorgeous! I was wondering what you do with the switch for the lights? Does it go inside the bottle?

    1. Thank you, Renee! The small switch just hangs to the back of the bottle. It’s not really noticeable unless you’re looking for it.

  15. Absolutely the prettiest bottles in town! Love what you did with the inks! Will be trying this as soon as I find a bottle! Always love your DYs!!!

  16. I am new to your blog (I think pinterest led me to you guys). I love your projects but I love your humor even more! I save all sorts of interesting looking bottles for projects but never enough time as you said. But I think I’ll tackle this one soon. I am also waiting for a sunny weekend to do the alcohol ink wall art project you shared. Don’t want to set anything on fire in the house or in the garage lol. After having collected a dozen plus alcohol inks over the years, it’s time to use them more on unusual projects like these. Thanks for the inspiration and laughs! PS: Ooh, just saw that Blue jay video on the side, gotta check out that. I am a huge bird watching nut!

  17. A month or so ago we disposed of probably a hundred bottles that I had been saving for projects. They were taking up space that we needed soooo….. I wish that I had seen this one sooner ? I love this blog. You guys (and your story) are awesome.

  18. I saw this a few days ago and didn’t bother reading the article. I figured I could do that easily. Haha. I tried putting the inks on the inside of the bottle and it all puddled in the bottom leaving no color on the sides. I figured I better go find that article to see what I did wrong! Thank you for explaining why inside the bottle does not work. Tomorrow I’m going to do it the right way!

  19. My Ink looks much thicker than yours and I have to really squirt It on yo run down, wearas yours looks like it kind of spread out as it ran down. So this stuff is not cheap. What kind of ink did you use! Thanks!!

    1. I’ve used both Tim Holtz Adirondack inks and Jacquard inks. Both were the same free-flowing consistency. If you feel your ink is too thick, I would suggest thinning it a bit with 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. You’ll need a small glass container and an eye dropper, or an eye dropper/bottle combo. Thinning will make them run smoothly down the side, and it’ll make your inks last longer. Good luck!

  20. I love all your stuff! And this is no exception. I have all the supplies (I knew I saved all those empty tequila bottles for a reason?), except for the triple glaze. Thanks for the tutorial.

  21. Hi I am new to your blog…i just love what you did with bottles! Definite project for Xmas. Thank you all the way from SOUTH AFRICA!