Ink isn’t drying

Dear Experts, I was cooking along with my new little Reprex, but then winter hit as I was printing broadsides with large woodtype. I am using Vanson Rubber Base Plus (mostly transparent white with a little other Vanson pigmented ink to give a transparent green) on Mohawk Superfine Cover and (for the special edition) on Somerset Velvet. I left the shop for two weeks and left the broadsides in a cold room (about 50 degrees)—on return I find the ink still quite tacky, especially on the Mohawk, less so on the Somerset. I know rubber based dries by absorption, but I’ve never had trouble on the Mohawk Superfine before or on Somerset. What went wrong? I think it was perhaps too cold when I printed, and it’s perhaps too cold still. But after 72 hours at 60-70 degrees (night/day), the ink is still wet. Help! Can I rescue these broadsides? I was planning to print the poem text over the pale green ink, but it seems too wet and may never dry? megibson/celoknobpress

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I suspect you put down a lot of ink. The oils in the bottom of the ink layer drained out of the ink film and absorbed into the paper, and without these oils, the ink closest to the paper became fairly hard. This prevented the oils at the top of the ink layer from absorbing into the paper, so the ink is still tacky.

To try to salvage the job, you might try putting the sheets in an even warmer place, like in a small room with an electric heater (maybe your bathroom?), so perhaps you can get the temperature up to 90 degrees F or so. This might make the hard ink nearest the paper, soft enough so that more of the oils will go through it and absorb into the paper. Also, I think even rubber base ink has a small component which will dry by oxidation-polymerization like oil base ink does. This being the case, you should “fan” the sheets periodically to get oxygen into them. After the sheets cool, the ink might “set” and become hard enough.

If you did put down a lot of ink, probably in future you should either 1) put down a thinner ink layer, or 2) use oil base ink.

Best of luck and hopefully this problem can be solved and you can again have fun with your Reprex!

Transparent white does not contain the driers that regular ink does, and if your mix was too heavy with it that is the reason it won’t dry. Green inks seem to take more time to dry as well, not sure why. Be careful about overprinting; sometimes the varnish will rise to the surface and although you think you are printing fine, when it dries the ink will not have adhered to the first layer and the second layer will scrape off at the slightest touch. This is more of a problem with coated stocks. It has an easy remedy though - a clean, soft cloth wiped over the first letters should take off the coating from the top of the ink.


i have heard of someone who would lay the printed sheets on a cookie sheet and put them in an oven, i have run sheets thru a raised printing machine without the powder to help in drying, sometimes it worked but a few times it didn’t.

Theres not much of a fix for this ink absorbs to a maximum absorbtion point (saturation) this is usually reached overnight , once that has been reached no amount of bodging will help , i too have pushed a job through the thermo machine sometimes successfully but mostly not, try a few seconds under your U.V lamp and see if that works . If it does you at least have a chance of saving the job by laying it out on the sun lamp !

I have used a microwave when needing a quick proof to mail out. Not sure how if might work with your materials and ink, but might be worth a try.

Elevated temps will speed the drying of most any ink, so the cold room scenario makes some sense. Get it warmed up and even rubber-based inks will dry.


I once discussed aging paper with an archivist at the Huntington Library. I wanted to prematurely age the paper. She said put it in the microwave. Apparently that is what they did to test paper. So probably not the best thing for editioned sheets.


Mary Ellis Gibson et al

As often mentioned, the suggestion is to try a test sheet first if drying in microwave.
Friend/fellow-worker, also artistic, was running late with a commissioned drawing using India ink, put it in micro to dry; paper burst into flames. Some inks are conductive of electricity, form a shorted turn of a conductor when in micro oven. Inks used in job mentioned may not be conductive? If no conductivity in rubber-base ink, then this method may be the salvation of much print in cold climate.


The old shop where I used to get my mag plates had a dryer that was simply a five sided metal box with several wire shelves and a light bulb to create heat. I have dried prints reasonably quickly by putting them under a 60 watt desk lamp (one with a shade to help contain the heat), and leaving them there for the necessary time. I place the lamp no closer than 2 or three inches away from the work, and monitor the process so nothing overheats. It seems to work reasonably well, although a hot-box would be better. At Hatch Show Print, when the building was built in 1925, a large wooden drying cabinet with shelves and baffles was built into the shop. I used it occasionally to quick-dry an order that had to be shipped overnight on the bus. It had a space heater in a confined space, and probably wasn’t a good idea at the time (or any time), but it seems to have worked well enough.


An old thread I know but.
I’ve just printed a three colour overprint using vegetable inks, the exact same form and lockup for each colour and taking the pressure off each layer of colour to develop a distressed look in the characters - very happy with result. Leaving a day or two between the colours and it’s dried no problem. Then I go and print a chromatic character leaving it a day between and the top colour won’t dry at all. Go figure. Same stock?