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Food Safe Dishes with Alcohol Inks – DIY Colorful Dishes Tutorial

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A long, long time ago I wrote a post about using Stazon inks and stamps to decorate dishes. (It was one of my earliest posts on The Artisan Life!) It’s been incredibly popular over the years. One of the most common questions people have consistently asked is whether or not the stamped surfaces are food safe. I’ve never personally felt comfortable eating off the stamped portions of any decorated dishes, and feel like you’d be pretty likely to mess up the design.

When I was organizing and cleaning after our recent trip to WV, I came across a set of glass bowls originally purchased for our DIY wedding reception and I had an exciting idea. The idea worked out, so today I’m excited to share how to make food safe dishes with alcohol inks!

Dishwasher and food safe dishes with alcohol inks tutorial

You can use this technique with plates, bowls, or glasses – it really doesn’t matter! Blend the colors or choose just one color per piece; again, the choice is yours. This project is a really great way to spruce up some old glass dishes or enhance thrift store/yard sale finds!

Materials needed for food safe dishes with alcohol inks

  • Alcohol inks! There are several different brands, but I happen to own/use Ranger Adirondack
  • Alcohol ink blending solution or rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol ink applicator
  • Glass dishes
  • Foil for protecting your work surface – optional but recommended
  • A sealant – I recommend an acrylic spray sealant and/or dishwasher safe Mod Podge and a brush to apply it with.
    • Always make sure to choose water-based sealants for alcohol ink to avoid smudging and smearing. Krylon “Short Cuts” and Krylon Kamar Varnish both typically work with alcohol ink, but you may need to experiment to find what works best for you and your project. No matter which sealant you use, allowing your ink to set for up to a day can help it not smear.
Ranger TH THoltz Alcohol Ink Set Beach Deco
  • Permanent, fast drying, transparent, acid Free dye ink specially formulated to create a vibrant, polished stone look
  • Use on glossy paper, dominoes, metal, foil, shrink plastic, glass and other slick surfaces
  • 5 fluid ounce each in flamingo, patina, and Amethyst

How to make food safe dishes with alcohol inks

To begin with, make sure your dish is dry and clean. I highly recommend wiping down the outside with a paper towel and alcohol ink to make sure there aren’t any residues, oils, etc. to interfere with the ink.

Protect your work surface! Alcohol ink will stain. Ask me how I know this 😉 I suggest using a piece of aluminum foil with slightly curled up edges to make sure nothing leaks off and on to your table.

Once your dish is dry and clean, you’re ready to get going!

I recommend wetting the outside of your dish with blending solution or rubbing alcohol and then working quick with your applicator, or simply by dripping the ink on, to apply the ink. The ink likes to flow where it’s already wet, so applying a bit of blending solution/alcohol ahead of time can help encourage the colors to mix. If you’d prefer, you can also just dab the inks on without using a solution beforehand. I made my bowls in mostly one color each, with a little bit of a second color for variety in the individual bowl/continuity in the entire set.

For more vibrant colors, add additional layers of ink when the underlying application is either dry or mostly dry.

diswhasher and food safe alcohol ink dishes

Allow the dish to fully dry, then apply your sealant according to directions.

I highly recommend turning your dish upside down to protect the inside, spraying it with a sealant, and then using dishwasher safe Mod Podge once the spray sealant is dry. Two light coats of sealant work better than one thicker coat.

You don’t have to seal the dishes, but it will help the inks last longer! Plus there’s the cool added benefit of being able to put your dishes in the dishwasher (but you really do have to wait basically a month for the Mod Podge to cure fully!).

food safe alcohol ink dishes

Aren’t they so colorful and lovely? I’m in love with these bowls and want to make some glasses to match ASAP!

food safe dishes with alcohol inks

It’s so much fun to turn unused items around the house into something ‘new’ and lovely! If you don’t have any glass dishes sitting around, you can always do this project with upcycled jars to make some lovely vases or storage cups for pens, paintbrushes, etc.

If you’re looking for more upcycled glass jar ideas, please stop by my upcycled jar craft tutorials roundup! You’ll find a variety of projects for different shapes and sizes of jars. 🙂

What’s the last thing you upcycled?

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{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Amanda July 19, 2019, 20:00

    When you mention the sealants. Are you recommending sealing with a varnish and then the dishwasher mod podge or just doing one or the other?

    • Natasha July 19, 2019, 20:21

      Quite honestly, I don’t usually seal my alcohol ink projects. I just carefully hand wash things and focus on cleaning the inside! If I were to seal, I’d probably do a light coat or two of Kamar Varnish, a light coat or two of Mod Podge, then another light coat of varnish. It’s very important to only apply a light coat at a time for best results. A couple light coats of Kamar Varnish should hold up fine with hand washing if you don’t want to mess with Mod Podge, too. Alcohol ink is inherently waterproof when dried, but you can scratch it off (like if it bumps against things in the dishwasher, gets scrubbed down, etc.)

  • Shell July 18, 2019, 09:22

    I recently decorated a wine glass with alcohol inks. I left it a week to be sure the ink had dried completely before brushing on the first coat of Mod Podge (dishwasher safe).
    As I brushed it on the Mod Podge smeared the alcohol inks and the ink stained the mod podge leaving a coloured hue over the entire glass. What did I do wrong? Very disappointed that my project has been ruined 🙁

    • Natasha July 18, 2019, 10:08

      Mod Podge has to be applied lightly and with a light touch. Using a lot, a rough brush, or going over the same area multiple times can cause streaking. It definitely takes some practice! If that’s too frustrating, I’d use Kamar Varnish and carefully wash by hand. It’s water resistant, but not waterpoof so I wouldn’t want to put it in the dishwasher or really scrub at it.

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