Some More Birds and New Ink

After spending a week or so researching printing ink, I finally ordered some printing inks from the art supplier that I normally use, Jackson’s Art.

Firstly, there are three types of printing ink.

  1. There is ink that is oil based that requires you to use solvents to thin it out and for clean up.  There is a long open time when working with these types of inks and it can take quite some time to dry before you can add another color – days if not a week or more.  These are considered the best, but due to the toxicity of the solvents, not for me.
  2. There is ink that is vegetable oil based and has similar properties as above, however you are meant to be able to clean them up with soap and water.  My art tutor found that doesn’t always work and uses a household spray cleaner for clean-up.  This is what we use in class.
  3. Then there are the water based inks.  You are able to thin them with water or mediums and they have a longer open time than acrylic paint.  They clean up with soap and water.  As far as quality is concerned, these are meant not to be as good as the two above.  This is what I purchased – partly because I am on a strict budget and for ease of clean-up.

The inks from the USA are quite expensive.  Speedball do all three types of printing ink, but they are pricey.  I ordered ink that Jackson’s put their own name to as it was very inexpensive compared to the others on the market and you get a decent sized bottle.

However, when I peeled off the Jackson’s label, I found that they are selling a brand that I could buy from a number of different suppliers, and for a bit less.  Needless to say, I am not very happy about that.  I do consider that false advertising.  I didn’t know about Ocaldo inks as they did not come up when I was doing research on printing ink, but when I Googled Ocaldo Inks, quite a few suppliers popped up.  So my review will be on Ocaldo Ink and not Jackson’s.


Here I used the 8×10 inch gel plate.  I had some blue left over on the plate that got picked up and I used the new yellow.  The ink has a nice sticky consistency and went onto my roller quite nicely, however, it tended to bead up on the gel plate which doesn’t really happen when I use the acrylic paint.  The yellow is not a bright yellow and I am not really sure how well it would mix to make a secondary color as it is a bit earthy.  The black also reacted quite differently when applied to the contact paper stencil compared to the acrylic paint.  It creates quite a lot of resistance.  So although not a traditional ink print, I ended up with a watery effect that I quite like.

The one good thing I can say about using this ink at this time is that there is a much longer open time than using acrylic paint.  This means that I don’t have to rush when I want to take a ghost print as the ink won’t dry out too quickly.  Clean-up has been fairly easy too.  I have an old micro-fiber cloth that I dampen and it wipes up the paint off of my Perspex pallet quite easily.  The paint washes off my brayers with just a bit of soap and water too.  As the paint takes a bit longer to dry, you need to wait before working with another color unless you are using very thin applications.  The sea birds at the top required a full day to dry as the black paint was quite tacky.

I think I am going to just have to work with this new ink for awhile to get used to it and find the best way forward.  It may be the case that it is not so great for the gel plate, but good for linocuts.  We will see.