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Ink assortment

From left to right, Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink, Gamblin Relief Ink, Tosai's Gouache Set, Akua Liquid Pigment, Akua Intaglio, and Red Bokuju on top of Nori Rice Paste.

The inks we carry are formulated for different uses. Here is a quick guide:

Moku Hanga Printmakers

Printmakers practicing the Japanese style of printmaking can choose from several different inks and paints.

Holbein Paste Pigments are made specifically for Moku Hanga. The simple combination of pure pigments mixed into water with a dispersant and wetting agent results in the same brilliant colors used by traditional Japanese printers.

Tosai's Gouache Set is a collection of gouache made by the Holbein company in Japan. The colors chosen for this set are often seen and used in Japanese prints.

Bokuju is the liquid form of black sumi sticks of ink and it is the traditional black ink used in Moku Hanga printmaking. Red Sumi is used to print your personal seal from the wood block onto the paper.

Akua Liquid Pigment works very well for Moku Hanga. The ink has a lot of body and it is heavily pigmented for intense color. It also has a very long working time before it begins to dry, giving the printmaker more time to spread the ink and pull the print.

Nori is necessary for adding body to Bokuju, Red Sumi and the paints in Tosai's Gouache Set so the ink will spread out smoothly on the block and print evenly. It is not so necessary with Akua Liquid Pigment, but it is good to have Nori on hand just in case.

Woodcut, Engraving, Linoleum and Solarplate Printmakers

Western-style relief printmakers apply ink to the block with brayers. Soy oil based Akua Intaglio ink is popular with many of them since it can be rolled out right out of the jar. Akua Intaglio also works well with Solarplates printed as either relief or intaglio prints. Water based Akua Liquid Pigment can also be used if it is either thickened with Tack Thickener or left out overnight to air dry so it is thick enough to adhere to the brayer.

NEW! Oil based Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink behaves like a traditional oil based relief ink but it is cleaned up with soap and water, making it ideal for printmakers who want to eliminate solvents from their studio.

Another excellent oil-based ink is traditionally made with linseed oil, pigment and nothing else. Formulated specifically for relief printmaking, its high pigment load translates to complete coverage with very thin layers of ink, eliminating over-inked prints and preserving fine detail.

Monotype Printmakers

Akua Liquid Pigment was developed specifically for monotype printmaking. What makes it ideal are the long working time, intense colors and not-too-thin, not-too-thick consistency. Add the quick clean up and the fact that it prints best on dry paper and you have a great monotype ink.

Use Akua Liquid Pigment in Needle Applicators to add unique marks to your prints.

NEW! For those who prefer to work with oil based ink, Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink behaves like a traditional oil based ink but it is cleaned up with soap and water, making it ideal for printmakers who want to eliminate solvents from their studio.

Gamblin Relief Ink is another traditional oil-based ink that can be used for monotype printmaking with excellent results.

Special Tools and Supplies

An ink knife needs to be both springy and stiff enough to work the ink easily. Our Ink Knives do just that, especially with oil-based ink.

Cuppers are the Japanese version of air-tight sealing Tupperware®, but unlike most containers, they are low, with straight sides and a flat bottom making them the least likely of any container to tip over. They also stack easily.

Moku Hanga printmakers use Konaunmo (powdered mica) to give a slight shimmer to the ink.

For more information about all of these inks, please go to Basic Instructions and look under "Ink."