The black alcohol stain

October 3, 2011

George Sellios is famous for the black alcohol stain. Some call it A&I (for alcohol and ink). Some refer to it as inkahol. No matter what you call it, it gets used by lots of modelers.

I am not sure if George Sellios invented this stain. But it sure does get associated with him a great deal. It is kinda like a signature George Sellios item.

I first learned of the famous alcohol stain from my buddy Pieczyk. However, Pieczyk used Rit shoe dye instead of India ink. He used it on everything.

I already had a batch of this alcohol stain dating back to November of 2007. I made it when I fitst attended CSS 2007. That was a great show. I had lots of fun. That was not my first time making the stain. It just happens to be the last batch I made. I made it with 70% ethyl rubbing alcohol.  That is what the instructions call for. However, I wanted to also make a batch with 91% isopropyl alcohol. This way I would have two different stains. This will give me some variety in my stained wood.

FSM's instructions (which have already grown a hole in sheet "A" where I've been folding it so much) ask for 2 measuring teaspoons of Higgins brand India ink to one pint of 70% isopropyl alcohol. I cannot recall if I used exactly 2 measuring teaspoons of India ink in the batch I had already made. Nevertheless, I can always add more ink if the stain is too light. When I made the batch with the 91% isopropyl alcohol I did not use exactly 2 measuring teaspoons of India ink. I used a little bit less. George says to pour one pint of alcohol into a screw top jar and then add the ink. Well, since the alcohol already comes in a pint jar with a screw top, I just added the India ink directly into the jar I bought at the store. I labeled the jar "A&I" and the date the batch was made. I don't have to label what % alcohol I used since it is clearly marked on the jar already.

Here I have all that  is needed to make the alcohol stain. The alcohol, the India ink, a measuring spoon and a scrap piece of stripwood.

I grabbed a scrap piece of stripwood so I could test each batch and compare them against each other.

Be very careful with the India ink. It is very runny and stains really well. The Higgins bottle has a built in dropper in the jar lid. It is handy.

Here we see the piece of test strip wood dipped into each batch of stain. The left side is the 91% and the right side is the 70%.

I used the eye dropper to rinse the measuring spoon with some of the alcohol stain from the jar.

Here we see a close up of the 91% batch stained wood.

Yehuda AlcoholStainTest91

click the image above to view the full size photo in glorious detail

Here we see a close up of the 70% batch stained wood.

Yehuda AlcoholStainTest70

click the image above to view the full size photo in glorious detail

I like that the 91% is more prominent in the grain of the wood. However, I like that the 70% gives a more even coverage on the stripwood. I get the best of both worlds.

Next up, step 1c; cleaning the plaster castings.

© Jaime E. Zepeda 2012