I’m using my press for the very first time, and I’ve been considering hand inking just to make sure that I don’t screw up the brand new rollers that came with the press (how cool is that!).
I believe they are rubber rollers - they’re blue - and I have Speedball Water-soluble inks. I’ve read enough to know that that those are not optimal inks, but I really just want to play some.
The big question: will these inks hurt my rollers if I decide to do that instead to use a hand brayer? My feeling is that they won’t, but I’d really like to have some reassurance. Cleanup is just water, right?
P.S. Pictures of my press to come. It appears to be an early Gordon…
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I think it would be fine to use that ink on the rollers. I myself have never printed with that ink on a press. I use a rubber base ink and to clean it off I use mineral spirits and then one last swipe with denatured alcohol. Hope that helps. Exciting about the press I myself just bought a “new” press that I am so ready to start printing on!
Water will clean them, but you’re better off using a solvent. Speedball inks will air dry quickly on the press, especially in the thin layer used for letterpress. You can get a standard tin of ink for $25 or so, and it’ll last you for years to come. So why not spring for some? If you really don’t have the money, I’m sure an offset printer in town might give you a little used ink to play with. Just ask around.
Keep in mind that the water soluble inks do not dry with any resistance to water. If you wet your finger and smudge a printed piece, the ink will bleed.
Where are you located, Chris L? There’s bound to be a printer somewhere nearby that can give you a few globs of ink wrapped in aluminum foil to experiment with.
We use Speedball water clean-up ink at an old restored village where I volunteer, on a hand inked press. We use it for “quick and dirty” printing of big type and lino cuts to demonstrate printing to school groups and the public. The village employees like it because it is water clean-up. I don’t like it because it piles. Piling is a common enough ink defect in paste inks (letterpress and litho inks), that it has a name. Piling means that ink continually builds up on surfaces like rollers and ink plates, forming a layer which doesn’t transfer. Piling is rare in solvent clean-up inks nowadays but not unknown. In the case of Speedball ink, I think as James Beard says above, that it air dries quickly. In our case, it seems to form a lower layer which is semi-dry and just sits there under the fresher ink. If we try to get the lower layer up by rolling it vigorously, it is quite tacky and doesn’t transfer well. (We do keep the ink on the plate for 4 or 5 hours in a day, and expect it not to dry, which I admit is asking a lot. Rubber base ink would be much better, if we could get past the solvent clean-up problem for some of the people who work with it).
In all fairness to Speedball ink, I think it is probably made to be used in a relatively quick operation where ink is removed from the jar, rolled out on a lino block in a fairly thick layer, printed a few times, and then cleaned up. Under these circumstances, it probably works fine, and is a good product for what it is designed for. But to roll it out in a thin layer to try to do fine printing, my recommendation would be no.
Thank you guys so much for all the help!
I actually got in touch with a local printer here who told me that we actually do have an xpedx near by, so I’ll be able to get some stuff from them. I never have anyone to sign for packages/don’t want to leave them outside, so I was trying to source locally to start.
I used the Speedball inks last night for some - as Geoffrey said - “quick and dirty” cards. I was actually really impressed by how the Black ink performed after the things I’d read on here. It seemed to adhere pretty well and dried quickly, but it was only about half as dark as I felt like it should be.
The red, on the other hand, was pretty awful. It was pretty runny, tended to glob up in the corners of letters, and the color wasn’t very nice at all. Learning experience, we’ll say.
Again, thank you all so much for the help!