Does alcohol ink fade? That was a question a viewer on my YouTube channel asked me with regard to one of my videos.
In case regular readers are wondering, there is a free printable with this post – the link is at the end.
It’s been seven years since I posted my first video showing how I make my alcohol ink pendants.
There is also a new short video showing some of the alcohol pendants as they are now after a few years of aging.
Since those first pendants, I have used alcohol ink to make lots of jewelry in various ways.
To answer the question, ‘does alcohol ink fade’, I focused on specific items that I still own and was able to re-photograph for comparison.
I have used the bottle cap pendants from five/six years ago for the short video and this blog post
The pendants I made two years ago also feature in this comparison, along with some earrings at the very end.
There is no yes or no answer to the question, ‘does alcohol ink fade?’
When the viewer asked that question, I went back to look at the pieces of jewelry I still have.
As I often give pieces away after filming, I don’t have all of the pendants featured in my videos.
Thankfully, I did keep pendants from each of the batches made in the three videos I am highlighting here.
So I have been able to really consider this question and have realised the fading issue depends on various factors.
Therefore there is no straightforward yes or no answer to the question, does alcohol ink fade?
Before we get into the pictures – we need to remember, image results always vary according to the light source used.
The same colors can look very different under different lighting conditions.
I use natural light in my photography and of course that varies with the weather, time of day/time of year.
It also varies with the camera used. I now use my iPhone for most of the images intended for online use.
The original images of the jewelry were taken on either Nikon or Fuji cameras.
So it is has been impossible to take the up to date comparison shots in identical conditions as the originals.
However, even with that taken into consideration, you can still get an idea of whether colors have faded or not.
Below is a comparison of the pendants I made in 2016 and one pendant from that batch, taken today.
Note that the substrate I used to make these pendants was ‘tin foil’ – more accurately called aluminum foil.
Remember that, because it seems to be significant when asking, ‘do alcohol inks fade?’
The associated video has had over 206k views and attracted a handful of comments telling me – ‘it’s not tin foil! It’s aluminum foil!’
And that’s quite right of course. But here in the UK, we don’t let go of old habits easily and some people still call it tinfoil.
Time to get over it people! Tin or aluminum – it’s the stuff we bake in! 😍
The pendant on the right (above) was made at the same time as the group on the left.
It isn’t in the picture from 2016 because I only used five out of the whole batch for the photo.
But you can still see how the ink looked back then compared with now. This pendant has been hanging on my jewelry tree for seven years. I have worn it a lot since I made it.
It’s been exposed to normal daylight for all that time and it does not appear to have faded at all.
If it has, it is by a very miniscule amount.
And now on to the 5 year old pendants (it’s 6 actually!) – also made with ‘tin foil’ (I’m stubborn!😍)
Two of the pendants on the right appear in the original photo, the pinky/purple one and the greeny/blue one.
Remember what I said earlier about colors looking different under different lighting conditions? The pinky/purple one is the same pendant in both pictures, as is the greeny/blue one. To show how they can look in different light from different angles, see the pictures below.
So after these comparisons, does alcohol ink fade?
With what we have looked at so far, I’d say no, these ones have not.
In fact, what has changed much more is the tiny owl dangle I fixed to it.
The Tibetan ‘silver’ has really tarnished – I’m interested to see if Tibetan ‘silver’ cleans up!
We also have another set to look at.
The alcohol ink pendants from 2017 set in the square bezels.
These pendants have not done so well as the ones that are several years older than them.
Why is that? Well, the difference is, the pendants that held the color better were made with tin/aluminum foil as the substrate.
These newer pendants had a completely different surface for the alcohol inks to blend on.
Two of the pendants, above right, are in the original photograph taken two years ago.
The one at the bottom of the right hand picture is the first one on the bottom row of the original picture.
And the one just above that, to the right, in the right hand picture, is first in the top row of the original picture.
You can see they are vastly different. The color has changed quite dramatically over two years,
So what was the substrate for the square pendants?
I used a high quality copy paper that I coated in PVA glue. The idea was to create a surface for the alcohol ink to run on.
Because alcohol ink won’t run and blend on plain paper.
But has that answered the question, ‘does alcohol ink fade?’
What I can see is that some colors have faded – the gold for example, while other colors have got darker.
And in one of the pendants, there is even a pronounced pinkish hue that wasn’t there before.
My guess is that the PVA glue has reacted with the alcohol ink in some way.
So my conclusion is that using tin/aluminum foil produces a fairly fade proof base for alcohol ink.
After seven years the color has held pretty well.
The square ones have definitely changed, but I didn’t see that until I did this comparison.
And I still wear the pendants and I still get compliments about them.
And finally, what about the earrings I made using alcohol ink two years ago?
The substrate for these earrings was Yupo paper – a man-made paper with a non-porous surface. These earrings have done pretty well for holding their color.
Again, allowances have to be made for the light I photographed the up to date images in.
The light is very flat as it’s the end of the day and there is heavy cloud cover.
So the pictures lack the warmth of the original. In the new pictures the earrings look quite a bit darker but in real life, they are brighter than that.
Having said that, here is a very slight change to the original colors but nothing drastic. The earrings are still completely wearable.
So to sum up – does alcohol ink fade?
My opinion is, it all depends on the substrate you use. Foil seems to have held well for me and so I will continue to use it.
I am sure there will be other factors involved such as the climate you live in and how much strong sunlight your pieces get exposed to.
Being in the UK, I’m not too worried about persistent sunlight ruining my work! Certainly not at the moment anyway – July 2023 was dull and August needs to buck its ideas up!
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As usual you can get it in A4 and US Letter sizes by following this link to Google Drive.
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