2843RE: [PPLetterpress] ink
- Aug 20, 2004Hi Timothy and Mark,
I thought I would reply to both you at the same time as you touch on similar
'inky' issues. You also might like to visit www.caligoinks.com as it
hopefully will give you a bit more of an insight into how we go about making
fine art inks at our factory and what goes into them.
On a general point, I like to think of a 'good ink' as being one that 'meets
the needs of the printer'. A 'good ink for fine art applications' must
therefore be one that 'meets the needs of the fine art printer'. That might
sound a bit vague - but it's actually the only place to start when you set
out to formulate and make ink - the needs of the printer - and I guess this
explains why many commercial inks (designed to maintain maximum efficiency
for high speed production) are unlikely to meet the needs of fine art
Regarding our ingredients - we make our inks from pure, dry pigment, and so
we retain total control over what we put (and don't put!!) into our inks. If
we say our inks are have no driers or are wax-free, that's exactly what we
mean. Every pigment imposes its own unique character on the final ink and
so I like to think we treat our inks like individuals and adjust the formula
and method of production to get just the right working properties for each
ink and yet retain the inherent 'personality'
On the theme of pigments - we probably have a wider selection of black inks
to offer than available through commercial ink suppliers, who tend to work
with just carbon black. We also use lamp black, bone black and even genuine
vine black pigments. The same goes for the colours, I think you might be
hard pressed to fine commercial ink made from ultramarine or tradition earth
colours like umber and sienna ochre. So again I think we can offer a wider
palette of traditional and unique artists colours.
As far as mediums are concerned - we use linseed stand oil as our main oil
medium. Linseed stand oil (traditionally called copperplate oils or
lithographic varnish) has, as I'm sure you know, stood the test of time as a
medium for oil-based printing inks and has just the perfect characteristics
for traditional printmaking. Depending on the application (etching, litho,
letterpress etc) we select the best viscosity we need to get the right
Lightfast and permanence issues are of course really important to discuss -
and more than I say here so I'll come back to it another time !! For now its
worth noting, as I'm sure you appreciate, that permanence is a complex
issue and I think you really have to consider the lightfast characteristics
of the whole system under specified conditions not just for example rely on
the rating of the ink or the pigment used. For example - the acid content
of the paper/paper surface/paper absorbency/environment/ type of image/ink
thickness/type and amount of pigment and extender/ medium.....all these (
and more ) will have an influence. However, I think it is absolutely right
that the ink maker makes clear the lightfast rating of the pigments that
have been used so the printmaker can at least start to make an informed
As for us, we make it our aim to choose pigments with the best lightfast
rating we can, ( Blue Wool Scale no less than 6) we keep the pigment
concentration as high as we can, limit the addition of extender (which will
always tend to reduce the lightfast rating) and we select only the best
quality linseed oils. We also have lightfast testing facilities that
simulate the exposure of prints to Sunlight and UV and we do this for all
I realise there is so much more to say on this issue - but hopefully this is
Mark - we do have a range of inks that are designed for traditional litho
printing (no driers, single pigments, high pigment concentration, no
extenders added) The difficulty is getting them to you ! - at the moment we
do not have distributor in S Africa. However, Couleurs du Quai Voltaire
/Magasin Sennelier based in Paris do have a do mail order service and you
can take a look at their site at
http://www.magasinsennelier.com/francais/tarifs/tarifcaligo.htm - there is a
colour chart of the range of special litho colours we do - hope this helps.
On the point you make about ink makers not bothering about small printers -
I hope it will encourage you to know that some of us do !! If you know of
any major distributors of artists materials in S Africa - do let me know.
Can you get hold of Charbonnel inks and if so - where from ?
Hope some of this helps .. lots more I can add. I'll send a list of things
that effect permanence of a print if you like.
Angela (and thanks for the comment about the surname !)
From: Timothy Arthur Brown [mailto:t.a.brown@...]
Sent: 19 August 2004 18:37
Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] ink
So what ingredients go into making the fine art inks that you develop?
And, do you have permanence research testing results on these ingredients?
Thank you. (Oh, by the way, you've got at great last name.)
T. A. Brown
Franconia, New Hampshire USA
Mark Attwood wrote:
>Hi Angela and list,buy
>Yes, yes, yes. inks. discussion.
>Especially when it comes to lightfastness. I really worry about the
>lightfastness of inks that I use on prints, and although I try to always
>the most stable pigment I can get, I still don't feel sure about it, andYahoo! Groups Links
>don't feel supported by the ink manufacturers who don't seem to think small
>printers are worth the bother! (at least in South Africa)
>I am looking for really stable pigments for printing, especially
>Any help or advice would be welcome.
>The Artists' Press
>>Dear fellow PPletterpress members,
>>As I have recently joined the PPletterpress group I thought I would
>>introduce myself to you.
>>I have just completed an Mphil in Inks for Fine Art Printmaking (at
>>the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England)
>>and I now develop and formulate fine art inks for an independent
>>If I can help initiate a dialogue beteen 'ink maker'
>>and 'ink user' then that would be great!
>>I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experience
>>with 'ink' over the coming months...
>>Yahoo! Groups Links
>Yahoo! Groups Links
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