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Old 11-09-2007, 08:28 PM
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slightly72 slightly72 is offline
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Mixing pigments with ink bases

I've read about people using pigments with the japanese style of woodblock printing, but I was wondering whether anyone has tried to mix pigments with transparent ink bases (for example, Daniel Smith waterbased woodblock base) to get an ink suitable for block printing. Any comments would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Tibi
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Old 11-10-2007, 09:31 AM
charlesgmorgan charlesgmorgan is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

I have not used the Daniel Smith water soluble ink base. However, these days except for black and white, I almost always mix my own inks using regular oil based transparent etching base and pigment dispersions from Guerra in New York.

The Guerra pigment dispersions are excellent quality ... very dense and very finely ground. A lot of people use them for Japanese style water based block printing ink, mixing them with rice paste.

I have also used these pigments mixed with wall paper paste to do screen printing. They work very well, and in conjunction with The Artists Handbook, they give you maximum control of colors. So they do seem to mix well with water-based media.

As mentioned at the beginning, I also tried mixing them with regular oil based transparent etching base, and this works extremely well ... so well that that is all I use anymore. I have used regular oil based etching base from Graphic Chemical and Daniel Smith ... I am sure it would work with other brands as well.

I believe the Guerra pigment dispersions must probably be in either an ethylene glycol base or in an alcohol base so that they will mix with either oil or water media. Whatever the case, they do work well. And with the dispersions, you never have to worry about inhaling dust particles.

If you have dry pigments and want to give them a try, get the purest alcohol you can find ... hopefully 95% pure. Try isopropyl alcohol from the drug store if you can get 95% pure. In some places you can buy pure grain alcohol that is that pure ... try the local liquor store ... this is ethanol. Or you might try denatured alcohol from the paint store. Denatured alcohol is ethanol with noxious substances added to make it undrinkable. Methanol is also sold at paint stores, but it is carcinogenic, so I would avoid that. In any case, wear a mask to avoid inhaling pigment dust. Put a small amount of pigment in a dish and add a bit of alcohol, stirring all the time. Keep adding alcohol until you get a thin paste. Add this paste to your ink medium.

Cheers ...... Charles

Last edited by charlesgmorgan : 11-10-2007 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:36 AM
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slightly72 slightly72 is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Charles, thank you very much for the detailed reply. You were mentioning 'oil etching base' -- does this mean that you've used this only for intaglio, or have you used this type of mixing for relief printing too? I wasn't too gang-ho about the waterbased DS, it was just the first example that came to my mind since I'm using DS waterbased quite often.

Also, to which Artist Handbook you're refering to? There seem to be a few on amazon.

Thank you once again,
Tibi
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:44 AM
charlesgmorgan charlesgmorgan is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

The book I am talking about is "The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques" by Ralph Mayer ... AH from now on. All accepted pigments have been assigned a pigment number by the standards association. In AH, all the pigment numbers are listed, along with their chemical composition and their light transmission curves. As well, you are given information about toxicity, lightfastness and possible adverse reactions with other pigments. Every artist should have this book for that information alone. But there is a TON of other information in the book, including stuff about driers, extenders, etc., etc.

Responsible ink manufacturers should provide pigment numbers for their inks. Almost all water colors from reputable suppiers give pigment numbers. But it is a real annoyance that many purveyors of etching inks do not give those numbers ... Graphic Chemical and Ink come immediately to mind ... they refuse to provide pigment numbers even though I have asked them for this information. What the heck ... even much maligned Speedball gives pigment numbers for their block printing inks; why others do not do so remains a mystery to me. Without the pigment numbers, you may get nasty surprises when you begin to mix inks.

For mixing colors, I also HIGHLY recommend "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" by Michael Wilcox. That book makes much better sense of color theory than anything else I have seen. Further, they take a large range of standard pigments, by the numbers, and show you exactly what to expect when you mix them. This is an excellent resource.

I use the etching base plus pigment to print intaglio. But I also thin it with artists quality linseed oil, or sometimes with burnt plate oil, to the desired consistency for printing wood blocks.

Cheers ...... Charles
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:43 AM
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Charles, thanks again for all the information.

Tibi
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Old 12-07-2007, 01:51 AM
freedda freedda is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Charles, I just posted a thread asking about mixing intaglio ink colors, then found your post which answers much of what I was asking about. I also discovered Guerra a few days ago by chance, and I'm thinking of trying out a few of their pigments.

I was wondering, do you have any of their colors that you like in particular? Any that you'd recommend for CMY process colors, or Wilcox mixing colors?

And are you saying that their dispersion is in an alcohol base, and its not aqueous (water) based?

Thanks, David.
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Old 12-08-2007, 12:29 PM
charlesgmorgan charlesgmorgan is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

For specific pigments, I basically followed the Wilcox recommendations ... use the pigment numbers he gives in the book and order them from Guerra. You want a yellowish red and a blueish red, etc. As I recall, there was one pigment, a yellowish red, that Wilcox recommended that Guerra did not carry, so I had to select something else; I do not recall the details right now. Anyway, that will give you a good start. I also like earth tones ... indian red in particular ... so I have a range of earth tones. I am very partial to Prussian blue, so I have that. I would have to go through my pigment drawer to get the numbers ... and my selections may not suit you. As for process colors, I would just look on-line at Guerra's pigment chart and pick things that look close ... for example, as I recall, the process blue is basically cerulean blue ... I do not recall the others, but just use your eye.
I am not sure what the dispersion base is. I do not believe it is water, because it mixes with oil based medium; but of course the dispersions also mix with water based medium. From my (limited) knowledge of chemistry, I surmise that the dispersion base is either alcohol or ethylene glycol, since both of these will mix with either water or oil; but that is speculation on my part.
Hope this helps.
Cheers ..... Charles
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Old 12-08-2007, 08:39 PM
freedda freedda is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Thanks Charles. I looked at the Wilcox colors and I'm trying to pick pigments that are the same or similar.

I'm also getting a paper dye pigment from Carriage House Papers. Though this might not be the same as Guerra (or maybe it is?), its a good place to start-- I'll try it first as an experiment.

I believe that Guerra dispersion pigments are water based; they also have alkyds which are pigments compatible with oil or solvent paint bases.

Best, David.
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Old 12-09-2007, 09:34 AM
charlesgmorgan charlesgmorgan is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Yes, I know that Guerra lists separate pigment dispersions for oil. All I can tell you is that I ordered their regular pigment dispersions and that these mix just fine with clear oil based etching medium. I can also tell you that they mix just fine with water mixed wall paper paste. These are my own experiences. I did not get the pigments made specially for oil. By all means, try it yourself before you order a whole bank of pigments. Good luck with it. Using those pigments has made my life a lot easier.

Cheers ...... Charles
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Old 12-10-2007, 03:03 PM
freedda freedda is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Thanks again Charles. I will try this out. As I said, I'm using Akua Intaglio Inks, and though I like how they handle, I'm not all that pleased with the color choices, which has prompted me to experiment. I also tried using Daniel Smith watercolors as pigments for etching ink, and this seems promising also.

Best, David.
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Old 12-10-2007, 05:52 PM
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

FYI - here's the Guerra website: http://guerrapaint.com/index.html for anyone who wants to look. Thought I'd stick it in this thread so that anyone can have easy access when searching for this info.
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Old 12-27-2007, 02:55 PM
freedda freedda is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlesgmorgan
. . . I ordered their regular pigment dispersions and that these mix just fine with clear oil based etching medium.
Charles, I got a few of the Gurerra pigments but haven't tried them yet.

I'm curious, what amount/ratio of pigment-to-ink do you think is a good starting point? These certainly seem more "dense" than the Akua Kolor inks that Akua says can be used to color their Intaglio transparent base.

Best, David.
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:23 AM
charlesgmorgan charlesgmorgan is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Quote:
Originally Posted by freedda
Charles, I got a few of the Gurerra pigments but haven't tried them yet.

I'm curious, what amount/ratio of pigment-to-ink do you think is a good starting point? These certainly seem more "dense" than the Akua Kolor inks that Akua says can be used to color their Intaglio transparent base.

Best, David.

The Guerra pigment dispersions are extremely dense. Some do tend to settle out if left sitting for a long period of time, so be sure to shake them up before using.

When I am ready for a print run, I generally do not need more than a tablespoon or two of ink. So I just start with that amount of ink base. If I am combining several pigments, I mix them in very small amounts first to get the precise color I want ... "very small amounts" means 10-20 drops of each pigment ... keep records if you think you may need to reproduce the color later. Then when I have the pigment or pigment mixture I want, I add about 10-15 drops to the ink base and mix it well. Try a small amount on the end of a brush and apply it to the sort of paper you will print on ... smear it out and see how it looks. If too pale, add more pigment, several drops at a time. It should not take very much pigment for that small amount of ink. A bit of experimentation will put you on the right track.

Cheers .... Charles
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Old 12-29-2007, 05:22 PM
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

When I talked to Guerra, basically he suggested 8oz of pigment to 1 gallon of paint, so that should give everyone an idea of the strength of the pigments. If it's equivalent, that roughly translates (if my math is accurate!) to 1 oz of pigment per 16 oz of ink base. That's a LOT of ink.
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Old 12-30-2007, 04:53 PM
freedda freedda is offline
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Re: Mixing pigments with ink bases

Charles and Ploverwing. Thanks for the suggestions for mixing and pigment to ink ratios. I hope to get to the studio this week to try these out.

It sounds like these pigments are much denser and stronger than the Akua Kolors, which Akua recommends to mix/color inks, but that's what I suspected.

Best, David.
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