metallilic ink on dark paper


I just got a platan press (craftsman), and trying to print using metallic ink on dark navy color paper.
I used rubber based ink at school (Van Son), but I couldn’t find the rubber based metallic ink…

Do you know what kind of ink I should get for my press?
Will you give me the company name if it is possible?
And if you know how to clean my roller will you give me the product name as well> (is California wash ok?)

Thank you for your help!

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I have had great success printing on dark stock with Van Son Oil-Base Plus Metallic Silver. It has quite a bit of drier in it so it won’t stay open on the press but it does dry hard and fast. I have found that the results are much better if you pull two impressions on the same sheet (wet-on-wet works fine). I did it on my Heidelberg without any problems. And California wash should work fine if you don’t let the ink dry hard before you wash up.

Hope this helps,

Dear Jim,

Thank you for your information!
So I am going to get the Van Son oil based ink
and California wash.
Just started taking class 3 months ago so
a lot of things to know…
Again, thank you for sharing your experience and information!

Best Regards,

I’ve done the same, I printed Van Son Metallic Silver on Black Envelopes and printed great. Add ink slowly until you find the right amount that works best with your paper.

I’ve printed Metallic Gold on black paper and it printed really nice but again I added ink slowly to find the right consistency. The only draw back would be the tone of paper and the tone of ink. You will need allot of contrast for them both to work. Unless of course the paper and ink are close in value and that’s your concept.

Thank you!

I really appriciate your help!
My paper will be dark Navy color.
My friend is dying the color (Indigo) on chip board.
So I am going to test and see how it works.

Thank you for your huge help and I will keep all answer on my letterpress binder.


OIL BASE ink has always worked for me over the past 50-years——sometimes it is necessary to “hit it twice” to get the VERY best coverage———we actually prefer to print in a white or yellow ink then dust the printed piece with gold, silver, copper, etc. metallic powders——they are MUCH more labor intensive but the results are much “brighter”.
Daniel Smith Artists Supplies in Seattle, Washington is a VERY good siurce for these
metallic powders——be very CAREFUL when using them as they are really finely-ground metals——-after printing the sheets need to be cleaned with rabbit fur brushes—-two or three sets of the same type brush gets off 95% of the powder——the remainder can be removed with moist cotton; we have done hundreds of jobs with “dusting” and they are truly worth the effort———-linen-finish papers are VERY tough to clean——Good Luck!

50-years of printing by letterpress and I’ve used only ONE cleaning agent to wash my composition rollers——kerosene —— it can be purchsed by the gallon at most service stations——in my area (Lancaster County, PA) it currently runs 2.69 per gallon.
I found, for the very BEST results, washing-up the press TWICE gets the rollers the cleanest——-it is also important to use only CLEAN, lint-free rags and make sure the rollers are totally free of solvent before calling the wash-up “finished”—-the roller ENDS should also be cleaned—-something that, I beleive, nobody really does.
California wash? I lived 35-years in California and I’ve NEVER heard of that!

Dear Allan,

Thank you for your help!
I am making file for these answers and will try it on soon. My friend is dying chip boards in indigo right now so I am going to test.
I will try oil based ink first and if I can handle for my press later, I am going to try to use the powder.

For washing, I will look for kerosene.
Is work for my rubber rollers for my little press?
I used the liquid called California washi at school, but I am not sure what is made of. (or they just called California wash?)

Again,thank you so much for sharing a lot of experience!

I too am a printer who started using kerosene for washing up letterpresses 40+ years ago. The easiest way I have found for washing a platen press is, after you are done printing and have taken the form out, stop the press with the rollers up on the ink disc. Put a few drops of kerosene on the ink disc and let it run down to the rollers. Then cycle the press several times so that the kerosene gets in all of the ink and makes it much softer. (Put enough kero on to make the ink as soft as possible, but don’t put enough kero on so that it drips off the rollers or off the ink disc). Then, with the press stopped and the rollers down, wipe off the ink disc, which will be easy because the ink is wet and sloppy. Run the inky rollers up on the clean ink disc and down again a couple of times. Clean the disc off again. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. By that time you will have most of the ink off the press. Then clean the residual soft ink off the ink disc and the rollers, and you are done.

Dear Geoffrey,

THANK YOU! for the direction for cleaning.
At the class, we took rollers off and put California wash on the cloth and wipe the rollers. But your direction more make sense to me and seems much easier to clean up so I am going to get kerosene and try your cleaning method.
I think I can really take care my new roller too.
Thank you for your help!

Best Regards,

I test printed Gold ink on dark indigo chipboard paper.
I hit twice and this time I used woodcut type.
I think the paper is not coated so taking inks…
The color is not gold, more like dark yellow brown.

I used Van Son 727 Copper Gold.
I wonder if it will be more shiny if I mix with silver.

I checked Daniel Smith website or other website to get gold in two cans. (the one comes in pigment power or metallic powder.)

If somebody know the brand name and item number, will you give me the info?

Thank you for your help!


are you moistening the paper before printing? i find it very helpful on home made papers.also i concur with the other writers who recommend striking the paper twice.also what type of indigo dye is your friend using? i would love to experiment with some dyed papers.