Friday, September 14, 2007

Ink Trials

Currently, I use Speedball watersoluble ink for my relief prints. There are many printmakers who scoff at the use of this medium, and many others who recognize the product for what it is: inexpensive, easy to use, easy to clean up, easy to find to purchase, comes in a wide range of colours, and is relatively versatile. It does have its drawbacks, though. Once it's dry, any drop of water will make the image run. The ink is quite "loose" and slippery, so I find that a smooth surface works better than a surface with tooth to print on. The colours are not extremely sophisticated, and when mixed, create greyed down, somewhat muddied results, rather than sharp, clear colours.

So I have embarked on a mission to find an alternative ink to use. I can't use oil based inks, as linseed oil makes me feel sick. Many people suggest that I should have better ventilation, and while that does help, the only time I've not been bothered by oil inks was when I was in an industrial-ventilated area. I wanted to find something easy to clean up, but that had a bit more sophistication than the Speedball inks.

I have received a free sample of Graphic Chemical's water based relief ink. I just tried it last night, and it's very nice. It will take some getting used to, because the layers of ink build up more slowly on the plate, but what a beautiful smooth texture! One drawback though is that GC doesn't have a colour chart to order from, so I don't know what other colours to order!

Above is one of my trial runs using the Graphic Chemical ink - a little light (i.e. not enough ink layers) but definitely has potential. This was printed on a previously abandoned print using Speedball inks, so it looks at the least like I can layer black over colours from Speedball, although the inks are completely different, so I can't mix them.

Graphic Chemical also supplied me with a free tube of water-soluble oil-based Caligo inks. Unfortunately, just opening the tube was enough to confirm that they'd make me unhappy in a short period of time from the smell. It's not strong, but I just happen to be sensitive to linseed oil.

I have sent requests to Faust Ink and Akua Kolor for information and possibly a sample, but haven't yet heard back. I also discussed this with the sales rep for Daniel Smith, and while they're water soluble, they're not water based. Therein lies the rub: water soluble means it can be cleaned up with water, but can still be oil based. Too bad, because the colours from the DS line are lovely, and many printmakers rave about them. So the website information doesn't necessarily help. Akua is supposed to be water based, but I did want clarification. So we'll see what happens!

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