Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Mixing Ink (Complete with demonstrative hand gestures)

In this picture: One ink knife for each color (4 colors, plus white and transparent base). Sheets of  paper for drawdowns, a pen, glass slab. When mixing, you need to take notes so you can recreate the formula you use to create a given color. Start with equal parts base and white. Since white is the most stable ink besides black, this helps to stabilize the color. Add colors into the white/base body in small increments (called toners). If your color seems to be degrading and going in the wrong direction, it is best to start over. (Thus, start in small batches so as not to waste ink)
Once you have achieved a color you might like, do a drawdown to check. Draw a small line of ink across the paper with the corner of the knife. With the blade, scrape the ink into a thin film. Just at the end, lessen the angle of the knife to paper and feather out the edge. This gives you two thicknesses of ink, giving you a more accurate impression of the color in varying concentrations. 

Once you have achieved the color you want, write your recipe and any accompanying notes on the drawdown sheet. Wrap the ink in foil for later use. 

When you get ready to use the ink, it will need to be modified depending on the project. DO NOT modify all the ink. Only modify what you will use. You will need fresh ink in case you add too much modifier, or you need a different modification for different processes and conditions. 
Some random notes on inks and modifiers:

*When printing on plastic or vellum, the ink needs to be stickier
*Varnishes #7,8,9(body gum) add tack to the ink.
*Setswell compound (relaxes the ink) is usually interchangeable with Vaseline 
*Laketine= transparent base and white (holds your ink together, obviously you can make your own)
*Tamarind usually adds some white to their ink because it adds brightness. 

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