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Re: waterbased block-printing ink

Barbara Coddington wrote:

> Hi all--
> I was reading the threads about acrylic ink for printing on fabric and was wondering if anyone can recommend a
> good waterbased ink for lino printing on paper? People I know keep saying nothing works like oil-based ink, but
> I hate the turp-based cleanup process.
> So against advice I'm experimenting with waterbased ink and experiencing the same sorts of troubles as people
> printing on fabric -- thinned ink gets slimy and bleeds, while unthinned ink is gummy and leaves its "tacky"
> texture on the paper.
> But there must be some good waterbased inks out there. I recently looked thru the book "30 Years at Crown Point
> Press" and was oohing and aahing (yeah, to myself in the library) over the woodcuts by Japanese print artists
> --who used waterbased ink! OK, so they're master cutters and printers with a bazillion years of experience.
> They must use good ink, right? Does anyone know anything about this?
> BTW, the Crown Point book is pretty great -- lots of beautiful prints and an interesting story besides. I feel
> lucky to have actually seen the "30 Years" print exhibition in DC last summer, too...


You question about Japanese print artists intrigued me.  I have admired Japanese prints for years and was aware
that they used water based inks but I had never thought about the intricacies of the technique.  At first I
thought that the wood blocks must have a significant effect on the behavior of the inks - it is so much more
absorbent than lino.  I did some checking.

I have a book called "Wood Block Print Primer" by Tomikichiro Tokuriki.  This is a beginners book, but in it he
says this about pigments:

     "Though most pigments will serve wood block printing purposes, water based paints are easiest for beginners
because they dry quickly and are easy to wash off blocks and out of brushes.  Oil paints are useful for certain
effects or for printing from linoleum, but they require a little more experience.  Domestic dyes mixed with fish
glue or paste are god for fabric printing."     The question here is what kind of water based paints -
transparent water colour, gouache, or tempera?

He goes on to describe the procedure for sizing the paper, saying this is an unnecessary step for most western
papers, which are already sized.  In a later chapter he says that the dye/fish glue mixture used for fabric must
be ironed - so the fabric can be washed.

For fabric not meant to be washed - and I wonder if this could be applied to paper - he says:

     "Ordinary pigments must be mixed with fish glue, and domestic dyes with paste."  He is not specific about
the paste but I suspect he is talking about rice paste.

I'll continue my search.  Hope this is useful.

Kim Itkonen

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