I’ve been experimenting. Since I’m starting to print in my studio (instead of the community college print lab where they had ventilation), I’m looking for non-toxic solutions, and I hit the jackpot with Akua Water-based inks. I’ve tried a few other brands of water-based and water-soluble inks, and after watching a few demo videos on the Akua web site, and paying attention to some of the tips and tricks suggested by the manufacturers, and artists out there using their products, I am totally impressed. They *are* a bit different from the oil based inks I’m accustomed to; the viscosity, tack and wiping feels different, but the richness of the pigments, and the ink’s adherence to & release from the plate is spot on. I can’t wait to experiment more in the coming weeks.
The process shots start at the bottom of this post.
The first print I pulled, all dry a few weeks later, ready for some colored pencil fun. I’ve found through various experiments that colored pencil works wonderfully on top of oil-based inks, but it barely leaves a mark on water based inks, so I started this with low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that colored pencil sticks to the Akua ink much better than any of the other water-based inks I’ve tried in the past.
Pulling the first blue-green over graphite print from the collagraph plate after a trip through the press. As you can see, there is still plenty of ink on the plate – I was able to pull three ghost prints without re-inking. Pretty nifty ink, that Akua stuff!
I made this plate a few years ago in my garage. This angle shows the back of a piece of matboard, with a pencil sketch, followed by a coat of Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish on the front and back. After the varnish dried overnight, I incised lines and removed the top later of mat board in shapes with an exacto knife to create “wells” that will hold ink. I re-coated the plate with gloss medium three times during the cutting to seal the plate, and hold things down if the cuts were close together, or when I got overzealous with tearing away shapes.
It may perhaps be thought, that in prefacing a manual of drawing, I ought to expatiate on the reasons why drawing should be learned ; but those reasons appear to me so many and so weighty, that I cannot quickly state or enforce them. With the reader’s permission, as this volume is too large already, I will waive all discussion respecting the importance of the subject, and touch only on those points which may appear questionable in the method of its treatment. In the first place, the book is not calculated for the use of children under the age of twelve or fourteen. I do not think it advisable to engage a child in any but the most voluntary practice of art. If it has talent for drawing, it will be continually scrawling on what paper it can get; and should be allowed to scrawl at its own free will, due praise being given for every appearance of care, or truth, in its efforts. It should be allowed to amuse itself with cheap colours almost as soon as it has sense enough to wish for them. If it merely daubs the paper with shapeless stains, the colour-box may be taken away till it knows better: but as soon as it begins painting red coats on soldiers, striped flags to ships, etc., it should have colours at command; and, without restraining its choice of subject in that imaginative and historical art, of a military tendency, which children delight in (generally quite as valuable, by the way, as any historical art delighted in by their elders), it should be gently led by the parents to try to draw, in such childish fashion as may be, the things it can see and like – as birds, or butterflies, or flowers, or fruit. In later years, the indulgence of using the colour should only be granted as a reward, after it has shown care and progress in its drawings with pencil. A limited number of good and amusing prints should always be within a boy’s reach: in these days of cheap illustration he can hardly possess a volume of nursery tales without good woodcuts in it, and should be encouraged to copy what he likes best of this kind; but should be firmly restricted to a few prints and to a few books. ~from The Elements of Drawing, by John Ruskin (1920)