Creating alcohol ink paintings is addictive and it is so much fun to decorate your home with your own, unique artwork. Of course you want your art piece to stay beautiful for many years to come - which is possible, if you do it the right way.
You really don't want to have your precious alcohol ink piece change color or fade within a couple of months because you did not protect it properly. Find here a few simple steps that will make sure that you create durable artwork.
But let's discuss first why alcohol inks are special and require sealing.
Why seal at all?
The two main reasons why you want to seal and protect alcohol ink pieces, is to provide UV protection and also to prevent them from damage through smudging or scratches.
Why is it so difficult to find the right sealer?
The main problem with alcohol inks is that they are reactivating, if brought in contact with any alcohol. They can even get damaged just by coming in contact with water or other residue on your fingers.
Unfortunately many varnishing and sealing products that you find in the art aisles contain alcohol, which means they cause your inks to change color, start running or develop alcohol spots.
That's why it is crucial to use the right combination of sealers in the right order.
First Step: Protective Barrier
Please let me say first, that this method works not only for yupo paper, but also for all other mediums, no matter if it's glass, canvas, tile, ceramic or plastic.
We first want to put a barrier between the alcohol ink and any further varnish or sealer. This is the most crucial step and in my experience, the by far best product for this job is Krylon Kamar Spray.
I never experienced running ink or blotchy spots when I used Krylon Kamar as the first step of varnishing. Generally I apply 2 to 3 light coats of Kamar spray and I let each coat dry in between for around an hour.
While Kamar creates a protective barrier between alcohol inks and any further sealant, unfortunately it does not provide any UV protection.
Second Step: UV Protection
UV protection is crucial for alcohol inks. Because of their fleeting nature, they lack in light-fastness. An easy and affordable way to provide the UV protection, is to apply several layers of a special sealing product.
After applying Kamar to create the barrier, I can apply any UV protective medium without any problems. There are many products out there that apply the necessary UV protection, and here are two of my favorites. One is a brush-on product, the other a spray.
If you are looking for an environmental friendly alternative that does not require a spray, I can recommend the Golden brush-on water based varnish.
It is not only healthier for the environment, but is also tested by a 3rd party to stop fading for 100 years under gallery lighting conditions.
I brush on 2 to 3 thin coats for added protection.
If you prefer a spray, my favorite is Krylon UV Archival varnish. It does a great job and is very reasonably priced. It is available in different finishes: gloss and matte. As for the number of coats, I am very generous with this. Usually I apply between 4 and 6 thin coats of UV archival spray. In between coats I leave plenty of drying time (about 2 to 3 hours).
Both UV products (Golden and Krylon) are available in different finishes, from gloss to matte. I personally prefer the gloss finish for paintings that include metallics. The reason behind this is because the matte varnish tends to "dull" the metallic shimmer.
Finishing your piece
After Step 1 and Step 2, your painting is ready to be framed and put behind glass. If you don't plan to frame your painting, or it's a sculptural piece (vase, tile etc.), or a painting on canvas, I suggest another couple of coats of gloss or matte varnish.
Where to find the mentioned products?
You can find the products mentioned here in my blog post in my Amazon Storefront and at art supply shops (such as Michael's or Jo-Ann's), Rust-Oleum products are also readily available at building supply shops, such as Home Depot or Lowe's.
I hope this was helpful. If you have comments or questions, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.
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Quick disclaimer: This post contains a few Amazon affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not paying a cent more to use any of the links, but I will get a little commission through the Amazon affiliate program. To see my full disclaimer, click here.