Letterpress ink substitutes from art supply store - UK

Forgive me in advance if I’m asking stupid and naive questions. I’m a student in the UK, that is lucky enough to have recently purchased an Adana eight-five press. As professional letterpress ink is hard to come by here, from any high street store. I’d read some discussion from here but are mainly for the state. I’m in need to test out my newly bought press. Wondering if any masters could give me any tips or hints about what other ink options I can use to test my press, providing it gives similar results just for testing. It seems the ink disk has a small crease in the center and that’s the reason I don’t want to invest too much on the testing just yet, in case I need to spend even more money in replacing the ink disc later.

Any help and suggestions appreciated very much.

Thanks in advance!

Ps. attached is an image of my ink disk presently.

image: DSCF3507.JPG


image: Adana 8x5 press

Adana 8x5 press

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Get your ink in the UK from:
or from:

A fantastic address in Germany:

Inks, spatulas, brayers, papers and everything else that you need, they’re very efficient and once you’re a customer with them, they send stuff over within a couple of days.
Your ink disc should be OK, however if there is a problem, get in touch with Caslon.
You need a tympan before you print. Download the Adana manual from this website.

Good luck.

p.s I use some nice stiff black ink from Lawrence.

Keep in mind you don’t need “letterpress” ink specifically, the vast majority of litho (offset) inks will work just fine for what you’re doing. Go to some of your local offset printshops, explain that you’re a poor broke student just wanting to experiment with a small letterpress as a hobby, and see if they have a little surplus ink they could give you instead of having to throw it out.

Dave (the Ink in Tubes guy)

It looks like perhaps someone re-painted the press and put a coat of paint on the ink disk. It should be un-painted metal. From you picture it appears that a coating is coming off. It may cause you no problem, unless the coating doesn’t accept ink well. If that is the case, you should be able to remove the paint on the surface with a chemical paint stripper (unless the disk is aluminum, in which case you might be able to remove with solvent only.

Does it look like there might be a coating on the ink disk over the metal surface?

Hi jhenry - No, it looks more like the metal is cracking a bit with a slight elevation around it, like a mild bump. Hope it wouldn’t be a problem, or else I will have to find an other ink disc to replace it.

Thx Thomas for all the tips. i did checked with lawrence.co.uk and it seems they only selling different type of black ink and the shipping cost is more than £4…. I have also tried to contact Caslon, since they carry more colour and I might be able to buy from them and cut down on the postage fee. However, they never reply me.

Was wondering could I use Lithographic inks with my press?

THx all.

It is almost cetainly a crack, probably from someone dropping the press upside down so its weight leveraged pressure on it against its shaft. The crack itself is probably OK as that’s not a pressure point. The problem you may have is that the flat part of the disc may no longer at a right angle to the shaft. That might prevent the rollers from coming in contact with the that low point. Of course, the springs may pull them completely onto the disk, especially if it’s only bent slightly, but that’s the point you want to check out by cycling the press with the rollers on it. Also make sure the disk rotates properly.

Even if that is a problem, you might find a replacement disk or have that one repaired. A machine shop should be able to bend things back into place, perhaps without even welding it or grinding the surface afterward. But try it with some ink first. If it works OK, don’t worry about it.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

You can use the graphic chemical lithography inks from tn lawrence - they are nice and tacky. Graphic chem also recommended their Perfection Palette etching inks to me - they have a high pigment load and are available from tn lawrence and intaglio printmaking, london.

Thank you John, I will go down to Intaglio and have a look. Good to know a print making supply that I could go and explore my options.

Just copied this from another post related to available ink in the UK:

Standard etching inks are also, less highly pigmented. An etching ink is designed to achieve its color in a thick film. Relief type inks, including letterpress, are designed to achieve their color with a very thin film, hence they are more highly loaded with pigment.

“There is a significant difference between a standard etching ink and a Perfection Palette ink. The latter will work reasonably well for letterpress because as crossover inks, their pigment load is similar to any relief ink. When they are used for traditional etching, the colors will print darker than they do for relief because of this load. The former, traditional etching inks are not good prospects for the letterpress technique.”

I went to Intaglio this weekend, bought their relief ink to try out my press. It was recommended by their staff for doing letterpress.