I did a little more work on this portrait of my daughter. I think it's ready for the background.
I've been playing around with different techniques and got out the Ink Potion #9 -- it's made by Tsukineko, the same company that makes the inks and the Fantastix. This stuff is used to dilute the ink and make it spread better. I used a bit to dilute the inks -- but it makes them watery and so I had to be much more careful before using them on my piece. I think I should have tried using a brush -- the Fantastix-thingies didn't work so well. You can see the brown blobs -- those are either 54 Chocolate or 55 Truffle.
Another method is to mix them with aloe vera gel. I've done this before, but when you mix up some color, you have to mix up enough for the whole thing and use it right away. Otherwise, it dries out and it's too hard to mix up more of the same color. But my friend, Jill, over at Quilt Rat, suggested another technique. Paint the aloe on the fabric first, then go over it with the inks, using a brush to apply them. She blogs about it here. I did a sampler and painted the inks on with brushes. I like the thin, wet coat of gel best for blending. I've left the photos large, so to see them closer, click on the photo.
These inks need to be heat set and I will do that before I do the background. The thing I don't get is why they don't blend at all after they've dried, but they rinse right out if they're not heat set.