In today’s post: Learn how to make these beautiful marbled Christmas ornaments – it’s a fun Christmas craft for kids!
A few years ago my mom introduced me and my kids to the world of alcohol inks and FIRE. We made pretty tile coasters and gorgeous framed art in just a few minutes using this fun and easy technique, and my kids have been begging me to get our own alcohol inks ever since. When I ordered some porcelain ornament blanks for another project (that ended up being a huge fail) I realized it was time for our next alcohol ink project: marbled Christmas ornaments.
My kids loved this project! It’s tons of fun because there’s really no right or wrong way to make fired ink art: you get to drop different colors of ink on the surface and mix them with alcohol and it’s always a bit of a surprise how it will turn out.
And then there’s the fire! After adding ink and alcohol you get to light the ornament on fire. The fire quickly burns away the alcohol, causing the ink to blend and marble, leaving you with a very cool effect. Keep scrolling down to the video to see exactly what I mean.
Please note that because this project involves fire it is best suited for school aged children or teens WITH adult supervision. Please read through the safety tips below the video before trying this project.
How to make marbled Christmas ornaments with alcohol ink
- Alcohol ink: That’s an affiliate link to alcohol inks on Amazon. I used the Tim Holtz brand (I haven’t tried other brands) which comes in packs of 3 inks for about $10. I purchased my inks at Michael’s when they were on sale, and I got 2 packs because it’s nice to have 6 different colors. The inks are a bit of an investment for a kids’ craft project, but you only need a few drops per ornament so you can use them over and over again! My red ornaments were made using Wild Plum and Cranberry inks, and my green/teal ornaments were made using Stream and Lettuce inks.
- 91% Rubbing Alchohol: You should be able to find this in the pharmacy section of just about any store. Just make sure you are getting the 91%, not the 70% or 50% as neither of those will work as well.
- Porcelain Ornament Blanks: You can find these at Amazon (affiliate link) in a variety of shapes or you can get the round ones like I used from Consumer Crafts. You may also be able to find them at your local craft store.
- Multipurpose Lighter: You’ll want one of the lighters with a long nose and handle, like the ones you’d use to light a grill. You can find these at any grocery store or even the dollar store.
- Medicine dropper or other small container you can use to drop the alcohol onto the ornament.
Marbled Ink Christmas Ornaments Video
Watch this video to see how to make the ornaments (written instructions follow):
Pretty cool, right? For this video I just did one pass of dropping ink + alcohol and then firing the ornament, but you can experiment with adding more colors, adding more alcohol to blend the colors, and firing again and again until you like the look. My kids spent about 10 minutes on each ornament, trying out different combinations and techniques. And if you feel like you’ve really messed one up – no worries! Just put some alcohol on a paper towel and use it to wipe all the ink off the ornament so you can start over. (Your fingers will get colored if you do this, so you might want to wear gloves.)
Alcohol Ink Safety Tips
PLEASE BE CAUTIOUS when working with alcohol and fire. Alcohol is highly flammable, which is why it burns away quickly and leaves a cool ink effect on your ornaments. I feel comfortable doing this project with my school age children, but just like teaching kids to light a campfire you MUST teach them how to be cautious. If your kids aren’t old enough to be responsible around fire, they are too young for this project. Use your judgement with your kids and keep these safety tips in mind:
- Prep your work area: I used a large cookie sheet covered in foil with a cooling rack on top of it. That protects your table or counter from the ink, alcohol, and fire.
- Children they MUST be supervised during this project, and an adult should be the one lighting the fire.
- Make sure anyone who has long hair has it tied back.
- Make sure to keep the lid on the alcohol closed.
- If any alcohol spills, clean it up immediately.
- Be sure not to light an ornament unless all hands, faces, AND the alcohol dropper are moved away from it.
- Check carefully to make sure the fire is completely out before handling the ornament. The flame can be hard to see, so use caution. If you fire your ornaments while they are on a cooling rack (like I did) make sure to look under the ornament to be sure the flame has burned out there as well.
- An adult should be the one to pick up an ornament after it’s been fired. They cool down very quickly and you can generally handle them right away, but make sure an adult checks them first.
Basically, just use common sense and BE SURE to supervise kids.
Written instructions for marbled ink ornaments
Step 1: Prep your workplace. Cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Then place a cooling rack on the foil. (Cooling rack is optional – it ensures that you aren’t left with any wet ink on the underside of your ornament after it’s been fired. If you don’t want to use a cooling rack, just have a few paper towels ready that you can transfer the ornament to after it’s been fired to absorb any wet ink left on the underside.)
Step 2: Place a porcelain ornament on the rack or cookie sheet, and drop ink on it. You don’t need much ink; 5-10 drops will easily cover the entire ornament. You can use all one color or a mix of colors. For the examples in this post, I used two colors for each ornament.
Step 3: Drop on some alcohol. Please be aware that you don’t need much alcohol at all – a few drops, or maybe up to 1 ML if you are using a medicine dropper. Start with less alcohol until you are familiar with how it will burn. The alcohol will blend your ink colors together, so you can experiment with lighting it right away or waiting for a while before lighting to allow it to blend more.
Step 4: Using a lighter with a long nose, light the ornament on fire. Depending on how much ink and alcohol you have used, it will take a minute to a couple of minutes to burn. Be sure it has burned out completely before handling. Note that if you are using a cooling rack the fire may burn under the ornament as well, so be sure that burns out too before handling.
Add a ribbon to your finished ornament to hang on a tree!
Remember, you can add more ink and more alcohol and burn an ornament again and again to get a different look.
And if you’re looking for more DIY Christmas ornaments, check out these posts: