Experimenting with Tsukineko Inks

In early November, I wrote a post about my trip to Houston for the IQA show and mentioned picking up some Tsukineko inks. Since then I have spent a little time exploring how I might use them in future projects and I promised at least one friend that I would post my thoughts.

There were three phases to this early experimentation: water based, aloe vera gel, and shaving cream. In addition to the demonstration that I saw in Houston, I also had the book, Simple Techniques Using Stencils and Tsukineko Inks to Create Brilliantly Colored Fabrics, as a reference.

I started off simply using the inks diluted with some water and applied to fiber with some stencils. As you can see in the print on the left, I quickly learned the issues inherent with a finely cut stencil and liberal application of media! With a more careful application on the right, the results were much improved. This first print is one of my favorites.


I also played with some stenciling on paper. Again, it is clear that it will take a lot of practice to learn effective application, even with more forgiving stencils!


I decided to see if I could increase my control a little more with the use of a more substantial ‘carrier’ for the inks than water. Both aloe vera gel and shaving cream were suggested. With the aloe vera gel, the inks did seem to run a bit less but the colors were less vibrant. I applied the inks mixed with gel both with a stencil and simply dabbing with a sponge. I would say that the results using the gel were my least favorite as subtleties in shading were hard to produce.


Next, I used shaving cream as a ‘carrier’.  As you can see, there was still some bleeding with some of the stencils but the shaving cream gave me more control over variation in coloring.


I also tried creating a background first on some cotton using an ink entitled platinum and then applying a stencil afterwards.


My conclusion from this part of my experimentation was that I was not going to get the precision that I hoped for using these inks with stencils without a lot more practice! I did however see a lot more immediate potential in using the inks combined with the shaving cream carrier for creating a background.

Finally, letting go of the stencil application, I decided to simply play with applying the inks with a small brush to fabric. This actually was the most fun. The inks applied beautifully to fabric. I could definitely see using the inks to create subtle shading and nuances in my art quilts.


Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

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  1. I saw the same demo in Syracuse at the AQS show, he made it look so simple, Thanks for the warning about practice. I have been wanting to try this ever since, you have inspired me to get off my butt and do something,

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