Today's postings

  1. [Baren 36440] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V44 #4463 (Aug 6, 2008) (Marilynn Smith)
  2. [Baren 36441] Re: Re: “printing western method“ (Scholes Graham)
  3. [Baren 36442] experimental test of inks (Charles Morgan)
  4. [Baren 36443] RE: last-minute questions ("Maria Arango")
  5. [Baren 36444] RE: [Baren 36433] RE: [Baren 36433] "printing western method" ("Maria Arango")
  6. [Baren 36445] Re: Re: “printing western method“ (Elizabeth Atwood)
  7. [Baren 36446] Re: question on registration for Western style printing (Barbara Mason)
  8. [Baren 36447] printers ink ("bobcatpath #")
  9. [Baren 36448] Re: printers ink (Charles Morgan)
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Message 11
From: Marilynn Smith
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 08:34:35 -0700
Subject: [Baren 36440] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V44 #4463 (Aug 6, 2008)
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I have to disagree with the idea that students should be trained using
inferior materials. It is frustrating when you get poor results.
Good products give good results. Students need to learn with good
quality products because than they will not get frustrated and decide
a medium is not for them, when indeed it might be. Starting out in
any art medium takes time to learn, there is more failure in the
beginning. One needs to grit ones teeth and fail at times to move
forward and accept that expense. When I took my first printmaking
course we did use lino, but we did not use poor inks or cheap paper.
A good teacher will recommend high quality supplies to their students
to help reduce frustration. Now, I need to get those supplies to the
art store in Baja, Mexico! Some times we are forced to use what we
can get. I did water based printing on watercolor paper, because it
was the best I could find. At least it was light weight and acid
free. Using fine japanese papers is ideal, but not practical in all
places. It took a lot just to get them to order printmaking inks,
speedball is all one can get and one can not fly with oil based
pigments. Fortunately we have driven enough times that I have stock
piled Dan Smith and graphic Chemical inks.

A good discussion and very informative concerning the chemistry of
Speedball inks.

Oh and I do not consider using lino low quality, it is just easier to
learn on first. I am in love with my myrtle wood.

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Message 12
From: Scholes Graham
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 08:48:47 -0700
Subject: [Baren 36441] Re: Re: “printing western method“
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Not to interpret that anyone with the ability to doing suicide blocks
is brain dead, it certainly take both sides of the brain to make it
work ... as well as the seat of your pants. .... Just that
“destroying works of art“ is the operative phrase and is not in my mix
of things.

As far as the strikeout.... I do mark my plates upon completion with
a ball hammer dimple in numerous place.... Hardly seen, but can’t be
printed again.

Running for cover
Red faced Graham
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Message 1
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 09:03:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 36442] experimental test of inks
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Hello Lee,

Just a few comments on yours. You say:

As a conservator, I have washed any number of wateroclours, moku hanga prints, carbon ink drawings, etc. Gouche is more difficult but it is often possible nonetheless. Speedball is hopeless. As far as I can tell there is something besides Gum Arabic (or maybe it is too low a concentration of…) in the ink that makes it so soluble, the foaming action when it’s washed makes me think there is definitely an excess of surfactant included. Gum Arabic is actually light sensitive and becomes less soluble, due to crosslinking, on exposure to light, ‘hardening’ the paint/ink – this is why it is used for some alternative photo development processes – like gum bichromate printing.

Condemning Speedball water based inks because they wash out easily is like condemning a nail because it has a point on one end. These inks are designed specifically to wash out easily so they can be used in schools by youngsters, with less fear of ruining their clothes.

Several allegations have been made based on annecdotal evidence. Others do not report the same experience. So it would be good to have some experimental evidence. Here is a valuable thesis project for an MFA student in art conservation, or a project for a publication in an art conservation journal.

For fading, the actual pigments are responsible for whether something will fade
but another part of the light fastness of a pigment also depends on the volume
of pigment in the ink – Speedball consistently has an extremely low
pigment volume, ergo any degree of fading is more noticeable, and as you
mentioned the large volume of Titanium white means that the print is bound to
become chalky with any degree of fading in the coloured pigment componant.

First experiment: Make a small stencil mask in a piece of mylar, say a circle one inch in diameter. Using a stencil brush and the mask, apply swatches of several brands of ink to a piece of good quality printing paper ... be sure the inks all use the same pigment. If you could get pigment numbers from DS and GC&I, that would be a good place to start, and of course use Speedball. Use various sorts of ink: water based inks, rice paste and pigment, rice paste and water color, straight water color, water mixable oils, oil based inks, acrylics, and even mix some of your own using your favorite receipes. But in all cases, be sure to use the same pigment by number. These swatches should be made by someone who will NOT be involved in evaluating the fading. Number code the swatches for later. The swatches should be initially photographed and comparatively evaluated, because they will all appear slightly different. Now, hang these in a window exposed to the sun.
Evaluate them periodically for fading, chalkiness, and whatever other parameters. After 6 months or a year, check the number code to see how the different inks faired.

As for the mould problems with
Speedball, you are right properly kept prints shouldn’t mould but there
are materials that are much more likely to mould than others given half a
chance, a peach will mould more so and faster than an apple for example. Speedball
more so than other inks. The mould I have seen was not from or on the paper, it
was decidedly only on the ink areas of the prints, which were unglazed, and I
was living in conditions where the humidity was rarely up to 50% and often down
below 10% (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).

Your comments about mold are interesting and do not correspond to my experience here in Victoria, which generally has higher humidity than Edmonton; nor does your experience seem to correspond to the experience of Louise Cass in Toronto, where the humidity is higher than Edmonton much of the year. It makes me wonder what sort of treatment the prints you experienced were subject to. Sooo, perhaps a little test would help to clear things up.

Second experiment: Make about half a dozen test swatches of each type of ink, as discussed above. That is, half a dozen Speedball water based, half a dozen rice paste and pigment, half a dozen Windsor and Newton gouche, etc, all using the same pigment by number. Make these on small pieces of the same paper. After the swatches are well dried, hole punch the tabs of paper at one end to make it easy to suspend them. The swatches should be made by someone who will not be involved in the evaluation ... number coded as before. Hang the test swatches in a large plastic container (e.g. Rough Tote Box) so they are not touching each other and not touching the sides of the container. Get a piece of moldy bread and place it in a dish of water in the bottom of the box. Put the lid on the box and seal it up with masking tape. On a weekly basis (or maybe even every other day), open the box and check the test swatches for mold. Be sure to record the location of the mold
(paper or ink) and measure the surface area affected, etc. Renew the water in the dish as needed. At the end of a month or two, you should have some interesting results.

The double blind nature of these experiments is important in order to rule out any bias on the part of the experimenter. And by using half a dozen or so of each type of ink in the second experiment, you will have enough data for a statistical analysis to rule out simple chance as an explanation.

Inquiring minds want to know ....

Cheers ....... Charles
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Message 2
From: "Maria Arango"
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 08:54:56 -0700
Subject: [Baren 36443] RE: last-minute questions
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Answers for everyone:

Everyone approaches the editioning of exchange prints differently. Some sets
come signed/numbered the traditional way, some come unnumbered, some are
o/e, etc. Whatever strikes your fancy, just count them correctly and the
coordinator will be ecstatic.

Speaking strictly as ONE coordinator, packing materials are scrambled in a
great big pile when I coordinate, so I hope nobody was emotionally attached
to a particular sheet of bubble wrap. The RETURN LABEL is the most important
and most forgotten item to include. I can usually tell when someone built a
custom box to send prints and I return those faithfully.
Two notes of note:
1-the USPS has free boxes and envelopes when mailing Priority Mail, so I
often discard envelopes and beat up boxes in the recycle bin.
2-packing your prints in an acid-free clear bag, then wrapping them in paper
closed with tape, then in bubble wrap with tape, then in another bag with
tape, makes it so that the coordinator feels like tossing the packet to the
dogs and letting them unwrap the darned thing. The more you wrap, the more
the coordinator will have to unwrap, so please be kind to someone that
potentially has to spend 10 minutes trying to delicately solve the
wrapping-puzzles on 30 (60 in this case) packages.

For smaller exchanges, it costs $4.80 US and $10-18 rest of the world to
mail out from the US via Priority Mail or Priority International. For larger
exchanges, the cost pretty much doubles depending on location.
The USPS (United States Postal Service) has recently declared that rates
will go up every year, in May. The easiest thing to do is to go to, pretend you are the coordinator, click on "estimate postage"
and fill in the coordinator's zip code and country of origin and your
zip/postal code and the country of destination. You will get an EXACT
shipping cost in US $

Another note of note, coordinators often take PayPal if you cannot get cash
or a money order for a reasonable amount. Please send PayPal in US currency
(or the currency of the coordinator). Example of PayPal fees, on $10 sent
from a foreign country in their local currency, $8.21 were deposited in my
account after foreign exchange rate fees and standard PayPal receiving fees.
If the coordinator does not take PayPal, anyone can always use the my (as
the Exchange Manager's) email address to send PayPal to and I will write the
coordinator a check in time for the mailings.

I hope this helps, I would add to the exchange pages but they are long
enough already, although I'm preparing some revisions to better explain all
of this.


Maria Arango
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Message 3
From: "Maria Arango"
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 09:16:17 -0700
Subject: [Baren 36444] RE: [Baren 36433] "printing western method"
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It's "moku-hanga" :-)
I think moka-hanga is an old communal Cuban/Spanish dance performed in caves
by the gypsies, like the do-da-tanga and the rumba-banga.

Just kidding, couldn't resist.
The term "Western method" is widely accepted in printmaking in opposition to
"Chinese or Japanese method" to refer to oil-based-inks woodcut; as
mentioned, ink rolled with brayers and mostly opaque; also usually heavier
cotton papers are used. Rich tradition in Europe as well as in the US a bit

Reductions are actually an interesting and challenging "brain-puzzle", as
they require careful planning combined with the inevitable fact that
surprises will occur, perhaps to the demise of the print. The "suicide"
component is often exaggerated, as it doesn't take a lot of practice to
control the process. But it makes for nice conversation.
Also, registration is a breeze because the same plate is used, and it does
save cherry trees.

Please see this page for a simple example:


Maria Arango
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Message 4
From: Elizabeth Atwood
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 12:51:59 -0400
Subject: [Baren 36445] Re: Re: “printing western method“
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I turned to suicide prints when I could no longer get 12"wide x! 18"
pine boards......... Started using the back of old boards and enjoyed
the challenge of the one block multiple color work. I ended up with
smaller editions but didn't mind. It is a lot of fun.............ElizA
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Message 5
From: Barbara Mason
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 09:52:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 36446] Re: question on registration for Western style printing
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Are you printing woodblock? If so, I would make a registration board and use the kento system, it is fool proof. To make the board, glue two pieces of 1 x 2 at right angles to each other making an L on the board. You will slide the block into this L to print. I make my kento out of matboard and use double stick tape to hold it onto the L. This way I can move it for different prints or if the blocks are not quite in registration with one another.
The registration L should be the same height or slightly lower than the block. If it is higher you will need to put matboard under the block to raise it up. Print with a piece of matboard over the paper, do not use blankets, or if you use blankets just use the pusher. You need firm pressure that will not push the paper down into the lines of the block.
I also make a chase for the roller, a frame of wood a little higher than the registration board. This frame is the size of the press bed and about an inch and 1/2 wide. I have tried different kinds of wood and finally find that pressboard works the best as other wood crushes over time. Having the chase allows for no bumps going on and off the block and also it is easier to adjust the pressure, You do not want so much that you make an impression in the matboard from the block, but enough to get a good print.
If you are not talking about woodblock, let me know, there are many ways to register and all work, some better than others.
To drop the paper in the kento hold it in the first two fingers of each hand with the fingers extended, place the right corner of the paper in the kento corner, lock it in with your thumb. lay the long side on the side kento mark, lock it with your other thumb, release the right fingers and then release the left fingers. Once you do this a few times it is easy.
My best to you

> What is the best
> kind of registration for printing with a press? I think I
> need something
> fool-proof :)
> Thanks!
> Amanda
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Message 6
From: "bobcatpath #"
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 13:09:02 -0400
Subject: [Baren 36447] printers ink
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hi folks bill joel mentioned commercial printers inks , which is what i
have used for
about 35 years with no problems . one can get oil base or rubber base ,
there is a HUGE range of colors , they dry over night -blacks and 2 days
they come in one pound cans, which are easy to dispense from and keep well
with waxed
paper on top . i kept waitng for some to mention these printers inks-does
no one else use
them ? the brand i usew is VAN SON-royal dutch printing ink factories
-made in Holland
since 1872 my distributer is Pittman company in boston
my local college univ of Maine Machias art department has used Van Son
forever too
i have work i printed in 1977-looks as good today as it did then
any other users ??
cant find my invoice but i think my last cans of Black were about 18$
Gillyin G
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Message 7
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 10:21:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 36448] Re: printers ink
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Hello Gillyin,

I used Van Son lithographic inks at University of Saskatoon when I was studying waterless lithography there. They were great. But I have been unable to find a source for them. Do you have a web address for your supplier?

Does anyone know of a Canadian supplier for Van Son rubber based lithographic inks?

Cheers ..... Charles