I’m a creature of habit. I will use the same product for literally years, even if it doesn’t work particularly well, just because I hate change. (Hello, 9 year old Converse sneakers I wear to work every day!)
So I’ve used the same brands of ink forever. I still use the same two pots of Akua Intaglio ink that I bought before I graduated two years ago. But I’m on the market for something new.
Akua is great stuff, but it doesn’t work very well on the lighter papers I like to print on–my last batch of prints on kitakata and mulberry have turned out all greasy, with oil stains that leach out from the ink onto the paper. Caligo’s safe wash oils have been a little bit better, with the added addition of being easier to clean up than other oils (or even Akua’s soy-based ink). And Speedball, though I do use it occasionally, is just… not what I’m looking for. The colors don’t mix well at all, and half the time it dries before I can get it off the block and onto the paper. It works great for teaching art classes or for when I need a really quick drying ink, but for the most part, it just lacks the richness and depth of color I need.
That said, I’ve been reading a lot about Gamblin lately. I’ve never heard a bad thing about this brand, and they have an oil based relief ink I’ve been curious about for a while.
And oh hey, McClain’s Printmaking Supply, the best printmaking supply company ever, was offering free samples of a Gamblin ink recently! It’s a limited edition grey that they apparently make every year with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which I secretly still long to get my MFA from someday. Here’s the McClain’s description of their Gamblin Watershed Grey ink:
PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) in Portland, Oregon worked with Gamblin to create a limited edition recycled ink. The mix of recycled pigments is different every year, so Watershed Grey is always unique and never repeated. When it’s gone, it’s gone until the next year’s batch so order soon. This year’s Watershed Grey is a very dark grey.
Guess who was lucky enough to score a sample of this year’s Watershed Grey.
McClain’s doesn’t skimp on their sample sizes, this is a good 4oz of ink. I couldn’t manage to get a decent picture of the ink color in the pot (it just comes out looking black) but I’ll post a photo once I’ve gotten to print with it. Very excited to try it out.