Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ink Wars

ink test

SafetyKut on Masa, linocut on Rising Stonehenge (top) & kitakata (bottom)
in Faust AquaLine, Graphic Chemical & Akua Intaglio

Today I did an actual, side-by-side comparison of various water soluble relief printing inks. I printed three inks using my most recent linocut, on both a heavy "Western" (RisingStonehenge) and a light "Oriental" (kitakata green) paper. The inks I tested were Akua Intaglio, Graphic Chemical, and Faust AquaLine. I also tried the GC & Faust on a SafetyKut block using another "Oriental" paper, masa.

Overall, I was not impressed (pardon the pun!) with the Akua, but then, perhaps I didn't try hard enough. I found that the impression was somewhat fuzzier on the edges, and even though the ink sang when brayered, it acted kind of dry. Perhaps that's a factor of it being an oil-based ink? I liked both the AquaLine & GC inks, although the GC surprisingly performed better overall. The image was sharper, and I seemed to get a nicer impression. I found that the trick was to use a much heavier amount of ink than I thought appropriate, and that worked really well. The black was such a beautiful rich black with the GC. The Faust is a lovely buttery consistency to brayer, and it rolls on well and quickly; it just seems to not quite transfer as well as the GC. But then, in earlier trials, I wasn't happy with the GC at all (but I did use a lot less ink before). Also, the Faust definitely has an odour that is starting to bother me, while the GC is practically odourless.

I have emailed both companies and asked them for their input on whether their available colours match what I require, or if they can provide them for me. My wish list of pigments is as follows:

Cadmium Red Light or Medium or Deep - Pigment Red 108
Quinacridone Red/Violet - Pigment Violet 19
French Ultramarine - Pigment Blue 29
Cerulean Blue - Pigment Blue 35
Arylide Yellow - Pigment Yellow 3 (but not PY 1)
Cadmium Yellow - Pigment Yellow 35 or pure PY37
Burnt Sienna - Pigment Brown 7
Burnt Umber - Pigment Brown 7
Yellow Ochre - Pigment Yellow 43
Phthalocyanine Green - Pigment Green 7
Prussian Blue - Pigment Blue 27

based on the recommendations of Michael Wilcox in his The Artist's Guide to Selecting Colours and Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green, both of which are quite useful colour theory books for any artist. Suzanne Northcott originally introduced me to Wilcox's "Colour Bias Wheel", which, as far as I'm concerned, is a great, simple, appropriate way of looking at colour.

So we'll see how things go! As it stands, it looks like the GC line of colours might be the "brights" and the Faust the "earth tones". I don't even know if they'll mix, it would be interesting to see. I'll have to try with the blacks to see what results.


Jen said...

Hi Amie,

I love your blog! :o)

The ink comparison is great. What do you think of the papers you worked with (Kitakata vs. stonehenge)? I love Stonehenge but heard that the Japanese papers are better for hand-burnishing.

I've bookmarked your blog and will check back often!

Jen :o)

Amie Roman said...

Thanks Jen! The two papers are both great for very different reasons. Kitakata is a gorgeous paper, light-weight, smooth surface yet with interesting character and subtle textures under the smoothness (unlike Masa which is also beautiful & smooth, but hasn't got any character).

Stonehenge is a heavier paper (245 grams per square metre, gsm) but the surface is so lovely and smooth, kind of velvety, more so than many other heavy "Western" papers. It also comes in pretty colours (love the cream, black & grey, and the white is a nice clear, but not overpowering, white).

With the heavier paper you can't see the ink through the back of the paper as you burnish, and you have to burnish much harder (or longer, whichever!) than with the thinner papers, although no matter what, hand burnishing is still a work out! I use the burnished surface of the paper as my guide; I look at a very low angle to the surface of the paper, and the relief carving appears slightly "shiny" (burnished) compared to the parts that are carved away. If that burnished look is consistent throughout the back of the paper where the block is, I know it's good to gently lift and check to see how the transfer went.

I really like your rolling pin method; I shall have to try that at my Mom's (she's got a marble pin).

Curtis said...

Thanks for the ink info. I thought akua's were good (based only on comparison against speedball) until I saw your side by side. Think I'll be expanding my horizons, though. AND THANKS AGAIN for a wonderful card!

Amie Roman said...

Thanks Curtis! Every little bit of information helps, and I'm happy to share my experience. Definitely worth testing if you're not 100% happy, but if you like what you have, that's great too.