It’s metal, it’s wood...No, it’s alcohol inks!

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It’s metal, it’s wood...No, it’s alcohol inks!

So, a great place for an in depth, highly detailed, tutorial for a wood grain cup is the Facebook group “WoodGrain 101” by Patricia Fulsom. But if you are just starting out and want a simple wood grain look, we can help with that!

I personally like the Tim Holtz brand alcohol inks and for wood grain I use Teakwood. I use a cheap, rough paintbrush; I found mine on sale in a huge pack at Michael’s. Make sure to wear an apron or clothes you don’t care to get dirty. This stuff can splatter or fling on you easily!

The goal to wood grain is to just go with it. Start at the bottom of the cup draw a line (or a few) of ink upwards toward the top of the cup. With your brush, stroke the wet ink up and down until it is dry. Continue this process all the way around the cup.

Helpful Hints:

  • To break up the straight lines, try doing some of your strokes at an angle or with a bend.
  • When applying the ink, do small lines instead of top to bottom. This helps break up the lines.
  • Create a knot! Put a dot if ink where you want your knot. Use your brush to push the ink outwards all the way around. This should create a darker edge. Make it as big or as small as you want. You can add multiple edges by repeating this and getting smaller and smaller when you push outward. You can also create a more oval shape knot by pushing it outward in this shape.
  • Put a large knot on the bottom to give a finished look.
  • To add more dimension, place a line of ink over top another. Once you have completed the cup, feel free to draw more lines and spread them over top existing brush strokes. This helps give a more realistic wood look by building darker and lighter lines.
  • Sometimes I like to do a couple lines with a little space between. Then when I do the next line, I combine the previous technique and I can overlap between the first 2 strokes.
  • SEAL IT! Some people never seal it, some people swear by it… I swear by it! Use multiple, light coats of Krylon clear spray paint to seal it. Let it dry well and then you are ready for epoxy! If I don’t seal it, or don’t seal it well enough, my cup turns green. If this happens, DON’T FREAK OUT! It is a weird process and it may still workout. Sometimes it turns back to brown when the epoxy dries… SOMETIMES! There might be a slight hint of green, but it could go away. Let it dry before you make a final decision if you need to redo it!
  • Always use epoxy before applying your decal! It looks so nice and smooth. And you think to yourself, “oh, I will just save time and layers of epoxy by just applying it now”. It’s a trap! The ink can chip very easily. And if you mess up the decal and try to pull up in the slightest amount… it will chip! Just save yourself the headache and slap a layer of epoxy on!
  • Explore! Try new design techniques. My favorite was using a double sided adhesive sheet, cut a design on your vinyl cutter, place it on the epoxied wood grain cup, and then use shredded turf to sprinkle over the adhesive! Such a cute way to incorporate a tree look with the wood and mossy/grass look! I found my turf at Hobby Lobby in the model car section. Here is the link: Turf

If you have any more advice you would like to share with others, please comment below!

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  • Nikki Hamilton
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