Learning to make ink

Jars of pigment in the studio.

Jars of pigment in the studio.

Having tried to resist the Mixing Pigments members’ workshop at Northern Print, I made a last minute decision to see if there were a place left. Fortunately, there was. It was a lovely group.

Mixing the pigment with oil using a palette knife.

Mixing the pigment with oil using a palette knife.

After telling us the necessary health and safety stuff relevant to mixing pigments (and it is necessary, even with relatively safe pigments), Helen explained about the types of pigments, fillers, and the qualities of the different thicknesses of oil. She then demonstrated how to mix the pigment and oil, first with a palette knife and then using the muller.

I shared the experience of making with one of the others, and was glad I did. It proved to be harder work than we expected. We had to wear gloves and, until the pigment had been mixed with the oil, a mask. Apparently, we did have a good consistency. We paused now and then to scrape it together and check whether it had changed from a matte texture to glossy. It looked merely satin for a long time, and we eventually asked if we could add a little more oil.

Finally, we got as far as using it. I had decided to try it on one of the plates I’d previously printed in yellow. Since I would be unable to print it in yellow again afterwards, I had to think carefully about which to choose. I decided on the small carousel plate since I would like to do another version of that anyway. It didn’t feel as thick in consistency as the yellow ink I used last week.

The resulting print.

The resulting print.

I felt that my wrists had had enough for the day, so resisted the temptation to mix more (I was looking longingly at the caput mortuum pigment).

I have a lot more to learn about pigments used in printing but I felt I had learned quite a lot about it in just half a day. It was also great fun, thanks to the others there.

Before I left, I collected my prints from last week and bought a couple of sheets of plastic drypoint plate. There are still lots of ideas for more prints whirling round my mind.



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