My December YA program was very simple. I’ve never been big on craft programs because most of the crafts I like and think the teens like have been done to death (tie dye, jewelry, etc.) or are not very inclusive for the guys in the group. So, when I wanted to do a craft program, I wanted to do something very different. Well, that didn’t necessarily happen since almost every library offers an ornament decorating program (my branch alone offered two–one for adults and my program for teens). However, I decided we should do something new that I’d just learned about.
Alcohol inks are the craft supplies for the crafting impaired. (Yes, I include myself among that number.) It’s virtually impossible to screw it up, but if you manage to do it (I did), you just use the blending solution to wipe away the mess and start all over. There’s virtually no wasted supplies! That definitely appealed to me.
So, I went out and bought 3 packs of various colored alcohol inks and metallic mixers as well as two containers of alcohol inks. I’m not going to lie. This was a fairly expensive program. I think the total for ink and other alcohol ink supplies was about $40 or more at Hobby Lobby (our Michaels didn’t carry alcohol inks and the people at Joann’s didn’t know what I was even talking about when I asked). I ended up saving money by using leftover bulbs from the other ornament decorating program at my branch. So, my total for this program was about $45 with snacks.
If you’re not familiar with alcohol inks, I’d suggest reading up on them at All Thumbs Crafts, Art Without Anxiety, or By Stephanie Lynn. Then practice, practice, practice. There are a bunch of techniques, and each one turns out differently, so you’ll want a few examples and a few tips and tricks to pass along during the program.
Because the inks themselves were so expensive (and I have read that you can make your own from permanent markers or something and that certain rubbing alcohols can be replaced for the blending solution but I didn’t try it because I know my luck at trying to be cheap with things like this and my budget last semester allowed me to use the real stuff), I ordered a box of gloves from the programming department for free to make sure my teens didn’t get the ink on their hands (because it is a big pain to get off, believe me!) and made my own applicators from extra felt scraps left over from making flannels and handles made from cardboard scraps. You can also use felt attached to a stamp base, but I didn’t have those on hand this time.
Then, I warned the kids to wear old clothes, put out some snacks, set up the work stations with q-tips, cotton balls, some applicators, bowls for mixing the metallic additives, a pie plate to work over, lots of newspaper and wax paper, and let the teens get creative. There were some really beautiful pieces made at this program (much better than I made during my experiments), and the teens seemed to really enjoy it.