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Old 11-11-2007, 11:42 PM
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Question yet another ink discussion

I think my search capabilites are fried today. I had a look through some posts on ink, but I haven't really found yet what I'm looking for, so I wanted to share my experience from today and hear some feedback from you relief printmakers out there with waaaay more experience than I have. This is just about water based ink; I'm afraid I'm not interested in the oil based stuff, as I've mentioned ( likely ad nauseum, if you'll pardon the pun!) before.

So as you're all probably aware of, I've been using Speedball waterbased with Safety Kut blocks, and until recently, on Strathmore Bristol paper (totally not what normal printmakers use) and on the whole, have been pretty happy. I've recently started working with Rising Stonehenge (love the texture & weight; not so big a fan of the textures of Arches & Rives for this, but do like them for litho. Also haven't been a huge fan of mulberries or lighter weight papers - don't like to have to mount things), and have been fairly pleased with the results (although it could be better). This weekend tried Speedball with lino and was not so pleased, but it worked out ultimately ok in the end (the recently posted "Copy Cat" reduction).

I recently received samples of Graphic Chemical's water based ink and Faust's "Aqualine" and their water based relief ink. I had only tried the GC on my Safety Kut, and was layering on what seemed like a ridiculous quantity of ink, yet it didn't print very well. Maybe it was the Safety Kut and not the ink?

Today, I thought I'd try the various inks on the lino with my little Adana press (which is only sort of useful; I like it for doing Christmas cards, and that's about it, but I figured I wasn't getting enough pressure for the non-Speedball inks by just hand burnishing). I haven't got to the GC ink yet on the lino, but I did try the Aqualine and the relief ink from Faust.

The Faust relief ink is so stiff! Not as stiff as litho or etching, but much stiffer than, of course, I'm used to with Speedball. No problem, I thought, I used stiff ink with wood engraving. I put lots of nice thin layers on, and even though the block looked good to print, yet it never seemed to build up sufficiently. Maybe I just lost patience? But again, I was layering on to what seems to me like a heck of a lot of ink after a while - it was zinging and somewhat glossy on the block. Yet it wasn't printing nice and dark. The Aqualine seemed to be more similar to Speedball in consistency, yet much creamier (and stinkier, unfortunately for me). I eventually did end up with fairly consistent, fairly nice darks, but still was layering on what seems like a lot of ink to me.

Now, am I just being ignorant because I'm not used to using "real" ink? I am testing both on a light-weight (not super thin) rice paper and on Rising Stonehenge. I also tried moistened and dry paper (moistened was a bit of a disaster; I think that doesn't work so hot with water based inks, as I kind of thought it wouldn't, yet the Faust rep recommended that I try that with heavier papers).

I tell you, I was really frustrated with the Faust relief ink (although I'm definitely going to try it with one of my wood engraving blocks and hand burnishing with silk tissue paper, because I hope it'll be stiff enough for that), and so far have been frustrated with the GC, but I'll have to try it next on the lino to see if it's just a Safety Kut issue otherwise.

Is my frustration through ignorance? That's why I'm hoping for some feedback.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have, and sorry if I'm revisiting something that people are sick to death of talking about. If you know of any threads that I really should be reading instead of starting this one, please, attach the links!
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Reduction method printing - "The Russian roulette of the printmaking world"


Last edited by ploverwing : 11-11-2007 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:47 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

I really really love those Daniel Smith waterbased inks.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:39 AM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Thanks dandan - you & everyone else! But their rep told me they're oil based, water soluble, not water based, and I really have trouble with oil based. I am seriously considering ordering a small tube to try it out and see if I can use them, though.

And I have all this free ink now! I'd like to be able to use it properly, so I was wondering if I'm not using it properly, and if that's why it doesn't seem to be working for me.
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Old 11-12-2007, 05:03 AM
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Diane Cutter Diane Cutter is offline
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Amie... Although I'm no expert on the water-based inks, maybe this might help... maybe not.

I find when I print the initial inking of the plate takes a lot. However, I don't clean up my plates very much between inking sessions. All I do is use scrap paper to take several repeated ghost prints until the ink is almost gone. The next printing session the ink goes on faster and I get a very even covering without a lot of thin rolling on of the ink.

I don't know if this will work with your water-based inks, but ... who knows?

Diane
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:33 AM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Moistening the paper does not mean that you should not dry it before printing -- otherwise the ink starts to dissolve and spread around (could be an interesting effect in itself, but probably not what you're looking for). After you moisten the paper on the printing side, put it with that side down on a blotter paper and press it so the blotter paper would absorbe the extra water and leave the paper just damp.

I'm not entirely sure though that this would work for all 'heavy' papers. Arches paper has very little sizing (i.e. glue to hold the fibers), and therefore it prints well even with very little moisture. The point of moisting papers is to remove some of that glue and leave the fibers fluffier and more ready to absorbe the ink from the block. Have never worked with Rising Stonehenge, but it might need more than just a bit of moistening.

When printing with heavier papers, I usually soak them in a tub of water for at least 5 mins (sometimes more), and then press them with a rolling pin between two sheets of blotter paper to remove excess water. I do print with an intaglio press though, but the results are way bettern than when trying to print with the same paper dry.

As for the inks. Faust claims that their inks are usable for both intaglio and relief printing, and that's why they are quite stiff. I've used them mostly for intaglio work, with a bit of stenciling done with them -- they are not quite as good for that. The GC relief inks are a bit of a mistery to me, sometimes they work very well, but other times they are dreadful. I haven't been able to come up with a method that produces consistent results.

Too bad that you can't work with oil based inks. I did not know that Daniel Smith are oil based -- the DS and Caligo water soluble oil inks are really good for block printing.

You also have to keep in mind that you should not expect 100% success rate when pulling prints, quite a large number of them will be discarded for such problems (even in professional workshops, up to 33% of the pulled prints can be defective). In addition, printing by hand with heavy papers is a bit more prone to such misses. However, the advantage to printing by hand is that you can check the state of the transfer by lifting a corner of the paper -- if there's some area that needs more ink, you can go with the brayer and add some before lowering the paper again on the block.

Hope this helps,
Tibi
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:04 AM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Might I suggest the Akua Intaglio Inks, which are soy based. They are water soluable and eco-friendly(important to me), but being soy based, they seem to give that richness and depth that oils offer.

I first used them at lesson from a print maker and found that they were very easy to blend or stiffen, depending on what your press method called for. They also will not dry, even after hours on a glass plate.

We ran my blocks through a press and they results were great. I ended up purchasing a starter pack through Dick Blick and tried them on a rice/sumi paper with a barren and got nearly the same results.

I've also found that clean-up is a lot easier that if I am using Speedball water based inks. The starter pack is $30+ or so, but gives you enough to get a feel for the colors, and how well they blend. I'm pretty well sold now.
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:07 AM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Amie -- Your questions are all super pertinent to me since I have decided to also stick with the water-based inks. So the problem you are having (forgive me for re-stating it) is that you feel you are using a ton of ink but aren't getting the depth of coverage you expect? Right?

Just a suggestion: Have you looked into the Rostow & Jung Akua Intaglio inks? The label says that they are "Water-based ink for Relief and Intaglio Printmaking". More here: http://waterbasedinks.com/instructintag.html

These seem to me to be very dense but not as "tacky" (sticky, noisy, stiff) as the oil-based intaglio inks that I briefly messed with (literally!) in a workshop a few weeks ago.

RE: "damp" paper: We used layers of blotting paper and a big heavy rolling pin to take most of the damp out of it before printing. But that was using a press for the printing, so I don't know (yet) how much dampness is appropriate with hand-burnishing.

Looking forward to reading more advice on this! I am attentive!!!!

Jan (fellow water-soluble-ist)

PS --- Hey! Wandering Blues!!! Great minds think alike! Simultaneous endorsements of Akua! Wow!

Last edited by Studio-1-F : 11-12-2007 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:53 AM
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Diane Cutter Diane Cutter is offline
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Amie... If you do order the Akua inks, be sure to order the Tack Thickener if you plan on using the inks for relief work...

Wandering Blues and Jan... I'm also a big Akua fan. The colors are so rich.

Diane
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Old 11-12-2007, 01:44 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Everyone - thank you all so much for your patience & descriptive, helpful input.

Re: moistening - I did the soak & blot; I have done that with other printmaking techniques, so I was familiar with the process, but thank you very much for being so descriptive about it.

Re: Akua - I had emailed each of DS, GC, Faust & Akua, and all but Akua responded to me, and as I've mentioned, GC & Faust even sent me free samples (one of which was the Caligo, but it's oil based and the smell does bother me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diane Cutter
However, I don't clean up my plates very much between inking sessions. All I do is use scrap paper to take several repeated ghost prints until the ink is almost gone. The next printing session the ink goes on faster and I get a very even covering without a lot of thin rolling on of the ink.

Diane - I have done that myself with my wood engraving (as we were using oil inks) but I think that the water-soluble ones polymerize on the block over time, and that technique wouldn't necessarily work. Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone?

Tibi - Thank you very much for your detailed response and for reminding me that printmaking is not perfect. I do know that, because it's one of the things I love about printmaking, but I was just getting so frustrated. Thanks also for your opinion on GC - I thought I was going bonkers. I loved the texture of it rolling up, but it just seemed ridiculous that it wasn't transfering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Studio-1-F
So the problem you are having (forgive me for re-stating it) is that you feel you are using a ton of ink but aren't getting the depth of coverage you expect? Right?

Jan - Yup, you summed it up pefectly. I take it that you have that feeling, too?

Re: dampening - I've never bothered dampening for hand burnishing before, but then, I've been using Speedball, and the results of even the slightest moisture on the paper can cause blooming, because the ink dissolves instantly (even once dry, a definite drawback with Speedball). With thick paper, a press, and really fine work (e.g. wood engraving), or intaglio (because you have to smoosh the paper into the grooves) dampening is pretty much essential.

Thanks both to you & Curtis for recommending Akua. Do you notice any smell from them? I really liked the Faust AquaLine, but the smell started to bother me fairly quickly (although I suspect I will be able to ignore it better than linseed oil, but still...). I ask people this question and so many times I get the answer: "inks smell? really?" I guess I'm just ridiculously sensitive. Anyway, I guess I'll just have to purchase a small tube (or whatever it comes in) to try it, too.

Diane - Thanks for your recommendation for the tack thickener. I have gathered that from other posts, but I appreciate you reminding me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wandering Blues
I've also found that clean-up is a lot easier that if I am using Speedball water based inks.

Curtis - Really? I didn't think there was anything easier to clean up that Speedball? I've never had any problems with that. I found the GC ink really weird to clean up - you HAVE to use a little soap first, because as soon as the water hits the ink on whatever you're cleaning up, the ink seems to polymerize and turn almost plastic like. Very bizarre.

I think that I shall also have to experiment with some other papers with these new inks. Even though I like smooth finish, and Rising Stonehenge seems to be easy to get that fits that bill, thinner lighter weight might be the better key to this. I also realize that my crappy cheap proofing rice paper shouldn't really be my barometer, but I figured from a weight perspective, it would provde me with at least an idea. It's not a great finish, though, so that probably affects things too.

The saga shall continue...! Thanks everyone for your input!!! It's so nice to have you all here at my fingertips to ask questions of!!
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Reduction method printing - "The Russian roulette of the printmaking world"

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Old 11-12-2007, 03:47 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

I have used Faust inks, and didn't like them at all. I suppose they might work out if you modified your technique, but I have been happy with DS inks, so really didn't see any reason to change.

A LOT of the inks that we refer to as 'waterbased' are actually more properly termed water soluable- A small semantic difference that actually is a HUGE difference in the ink! Some people are kind of scared by the term oil based, but remember, oil based does NOT mean petroleum based- odds are the oils are a natural oil (e.g. linseed oil, etc), not a nasty petro-chemical derivative of some kind that will result in your children being born with extra limbs...

How you work your ink will also make all the difference in the world. You need to take the time to roll it out on the slab before you put it on the block- To warm it up, and 'condition' it. I usually take a good 5- 10 minutes or so to do this. It is really hard to describe how you know when it is ready- there is a 'feel' to it- a tackiness... The best description that I have heard is that is like pulling velcro apart. Once you have done it enough, you'll know exactly where you want to be with it.

-Andrew
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:55 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Thanks for the written description of the sounds, Andrew - that's a good one! Yes, I'd inked up my slab nice and ready, but it's good of you to point that out as a possible problem. And while I know that "oil based" does not equal "petro-chemical", thank you for clarifying for others, though. And you're absolutely right about the misnomer "water based", but I used it to distinguish from water-soluble oil based products. I personally can't use linseed oil products though, that's why I can't do "oil based" for most stuff. That's why I am having such a hard time finding an ink that I can use. If I could use the DS inks, I'd be thrilled.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:26 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by ploverwing
Thanks both to you & Curtis for recommending Akua. Do you notice any smell from them?
Yes, there is a smell. It's kind of a "chemically" smell, but I can't put my finger on exactly what it smells like. It's not very strong at all, but I suppose 'strong' is in the nose of the beholder, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ploverwing
Diane - Thanks for your recommendation for the tack thickener. I have gathered that from other posts, but I appreciate you reminding me.

The info page that I sent you for the Akua Intaglio Ink -- http://waterbasedinks.com/instructintag.html -- says that "if a stiffer consistency is desired, add Akua Oil Converter." As I said, the Intaglio ink is already fairly stiff and thick and comes in squat jars.

The "Tack Thickener" (I believe, but of course I am not sure of this) is supposed to be a companion to the Akua Kolor inks, their liquid ink line that come in the bottles. Use of the "Tack Thickener" with that ink line is described on the Akua Kolor Ink info page, which is here: http://waterbasedinks.com/instructakua.html

Actually, this is all pretty confusing to me. It requires (obviously) that we try all this stuff out and decide for ourselves exactly what combinations of what materials get us the result we want.

Gee, this is fun!!! There are sooooooo many variables! Can't wait to dig in!

Jan
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:49 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

As Andrew hinted at, the Akua inks are not really water-based, they are soy based, but the pigment they add is water-dispersed, and not an oil or other chemical, so hence, the "water based" title. I know that Akua Intaglio cleans up quicker and easier than most other etching inks, which is the main reason I like it.

For Akua Intaglio, I use their Blending Medium to make the ink less thick and use the Transparent Base when I want to make the color more transparent (often when printing with different colors on different plates). I have some of the Kolor inks, but I use these as colors or pigments for Intaglio inks.

Best, David.
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:48 PM
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Re: yet another ink discussion

Thanks Jan for the freebies of the Akua Intaglio, and David for your suggestion about using their Blender Medium. I actually didn't find the Akua Intaglio too thick, but I also didn't really like it much. If anyone is interested, you can have a read of my further thoughts on my blog. I might not have given the Akua inks a fair shake, so I might try again today with them, since I wasn't happy with GC when I first tried it last month, but then figured out how to make it work well.
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Old 12-12-2007, 02:23 PM
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RE: Akua Inks

PloverWing. Regarding Akua Intaglio Inks, I like the ease of cleanup with these inks. I'm happy with the Carbon Black, but the jury is still out on their colors --sometimes the colors seem not that clear to me, but I'm just starting to experiment with them. I wonder if the ink color and mixing ability is influenced at all by the amber color of the "transparent" base? Or is it something with the choice or quality of the pigments they use?

Again, its too early for me to make a final critique.

One thing I do know is that Akua Intaglio need far less wiping than most other etching ink brands. I think its easy for some people to overwipe.

I'm thinking of trying my hand at mixing my own colors using the base and Guerra pigments. I'll let you know how that goes.

Best, David.
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