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  • Jane Harris

Test Monkey...




I love all kinds of material as each has a purpose. Today I was tasked with trying out a new ink. I thought I'd take this opportunity to review what I use and why.


Speedball: I love Speedball ink in a class setting, especially with children. Dries by evaporation so it has a quick turn around, is easily cleaned up with water, very low odor. Downside...I can't use watercolor over the prints because it is a water soluble ink and it isn't a very yummy smooth roll, booooo! But bonus points for a grungy look which I dig from time to time, YAY! Or if I want to run test prints to check my mark making. And sometimes when I work in collage print.


Cranfield - Caligo Safe Wash: from England, and the nicest staff ever! (Thanks for the biscuits guys) I absolutely love this ink. Caligo is my go to ink. It is so easy to clean up with just water and really just washes away, with the exception of phthalo blue...uggg, haha! Caligo rolls like a friggin dream! So smooth and yummy. It can get a bit tacky depending on the conditions but has a great tack reducer that helps. Dry time is a touch longer than oil based surprisingly. When dry it doesn't smudge. The inks sit well together, layering is always successful making reduction prints a dream...given the extended dry time but we all need extra long projects. Oh and the oil based gold is EVERYTHING! That is a fact!


Akua Ink: Yummy! I haven't been working with Akua for very long but I am absolutely in love! Akua dries by absorption, is soy based, easy enough to clean up with soap and water, bright colors, ability to create an extended palette (I am not reviewing pigments but I should note that with a quality pigment you can make magic happen here!) , Monoprinting at its best with Akua inks-also fact, I love it for my pattern blocks. The transparent layers and colors created with this absorption method is the stuff dreams are made from... Very low odor and a plethora of additives to keep you busy experimenting. This is also a fun ink because you can find countless videos online show new techniques. Very cool!


Lastly I have the newest test monkey...

Daniel Smith water based ink: *This ink was donated by a friend who needed to find a new ink that wasn't quite so toxic before she ultimately turned to Akua ink. She does some amazing things in print btw :). Also note, this ink is no longer being made. Not clear on the time line here. when it was made and for how long. I can only assume they discontinued this ink because it sucks. It is supposed to be a professional grade ink and I'll say it is one notch above Speedball in that regard but I would still use Speedball before this ink if I had a choice.

This ink dries by evaporation, blends well - mixing colors was so nice, great strong colors out of the tube, rolls quite smoothly at first but goes clumpy fast and has a very very strong odor, no good. Not clear if that is an age thing, they don't look that old but I can't discount that aspect. I'm still trying to work with this product but day 1 was a bust. I'm not sure if I can use this in my workshops, either children or adults, because of the odor. I'll update this post when I can play with the Daniel Smith binders and Guerra pigments to see what happens there. I have about 5 large tubes of Transparent base so fingers crossed I can make this work!


So that was my day...haha! Actually today was great! I floated in the pool, printed some flora for a show this fall, played with new materials, prepped some canvases for next week, ate some amazing ribs Mike had on the smoker (new secret sauce) and when I'm done here I'll snuggle up and binge watch Harry Potter with my allusive teenager. Life is good!



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