Gold Ink

Okay, so I know that it won’t be shiny gold or anything, but I am looking for a good gold ink. I have a small tube from that Lifestyle craft (tiny play letterpress machine), and while it prints fine, the color is greenish and not gold. I have played around and added yellow and warm red, but I am just not happy with it. I have also played around with silver and added yellow, but it still reads green to me.

So, to those of you that print with gold ink (not powders or anything like that) what brand and where did you buy it from?


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Van Son do a gold. Someone here gave a decent tip, although I havent tried it yet. Do the print run in transparent white, washup, then print over in Gold. Registration is important when doing this I suppose.

The initial run of transparent white seals the paper, so more of the gold flakes in the ink lay down better. And yes, you need to register it well.

You can call around to local ink suppliers and see if they’ll do custom inks for you. I have a few here in NJ that I call for stuff like that. I usually have to buy 2 lb cans, though, which I’ll likely never use up.

The most common metallic gold inks are in the Pantone system, and they have six different base golds (PMS 871 to 876) running from greenish to reddish. Many different manufacturers of commercial printing inks make inks to fit the Pantone system. All metallic inks I’ve seen are oil-base.
It seems that many manufacturers have switched from one-pound cans to one-kilo cans. That’s a lot of ink for an occasional user. I wonder if Dave Robison is selling metallics in 1/4-pound tubes.

Although its prone to a mess , in the instance of the small user you should transfer your ink to a container that will seal so that after transfer you can upturn the tin for storage .
The reasoning being that the skin will then form on the top of the contents ,thus when turned over to get into it there will be no skin on the surface as that is the bit thats within the container , or put another way the ink forms skin when oxidised so the buried portion stays soft as it did not come into contact with oxygen . This principle i learned from an old relative that always upturned his varnishes , laquers and adhesives in this way !
A use for the coffee jars you kept and will never get round to using!

When I started printing in 1976 my father had me mix gold powder with varnish to get a good shiny effect. The problem was prolonged exposure to the powder could lead to a condition called “gold lung” the cure for which was rather expensive. But raising the money wasn’t a problem, you could cough it up. Stuart

Peter, that upside down ink can is your best idea yet, it might be too late for my 50 year old ink cans but i’m stealing that idea.

Its an old trick , but modern litho men use whole cans at a go so it has got a bit forgotten and the bad habit of punching lid openers has left it to be a bit dated !!!
Village press,
I still have some of that powder its called bronzing dust , even a tiny tin weighs about 3lbs , I have a paste for mixing into varnish but find proprietory mixes of today considerably easier to use and they dry quicker !!


Off beat but jeremy clarksons ancesters made those !!

I knew printers that would pour water over their oil-based ink in the can to seal it from the air, the only problem is you can’t put it on the shelf and forget about it and the can will eventually rust.

do you have any pictures of this storage method? I’m having trouble picturing how to perform this correctly.

Peter, did you ever hear of (or try) putting water on top of the ink in the can to seal the surface? I have heard of it but never tried it.

Daniel , when you get your can of runny metallic ink ,turn it upside down and store it that way so the skin will form within the can ,not, as conventionally ,on the surface you want to get at ! I store all tins this way if they are un opened ,although its a method best kept for the golds and sivers or copper colours and any other foil inks that tend to skin like glass as opposed to those that leave a rubbery skin ,you can peel rubbery skin off the top but the glassy brittle skin and letterpress are not a good match so you keep those stored upside down !
I havent heard of it but it sounds do able ,however i would wonder if the oxy content of the water would still dry it , the cans would oxidise on the inside too , i will have a little experiment as ink is something i have in abundance .


Dont worry he didnt inherit any of it !

THANKS Peter-so obvious really and sensible but I can’t turn ‘em upside down cos students don’t put the lids back on properly and I would have lovely coloured and expensive shelves, but putting a layer of greaseproof/silicone paper on top then fill with water will hold it back……..can anyone recommend good brands of letterpress inks in Europe for handinking /slow machine printing eg treadles, apart from Hawthorn, Joop Stoop, Vanson,, Michael Huber Munich, any others out there?????

never tried water, but we used to lay a sheet of tissue on the ink then add a drop of oil and spread it around the tissue.

Shameless self-promotion — if you buy Ink in Tubes, the skinning problem is pretty much eliminated! ;-) Or you can put it in tubes yourself (see Dave Celani’s website). Or you can use the traditional waxed or oiled paper round on top, but certain plastics are better. Most of the metallics would be awfully messy after opening a can stored upside down, I’d think.

I’d agree that the Pantone Gold colors 871 through 876, from any manufacturer, are among the most reliably metallic, and will actually still look pretty nice on uncoated stock even though not as reflective as when printed on coated.

Parallel Imp, yes, I do sell the standard PMS metallics in “quarter pound” tubes (actually about 7 oz. of gold or silver ink), and will have all of them available after I get through the next few weeks of orchid shows.

Dave (the Ink in Tubes guy)

I was taught to make the top of the ink in the can perfectly flat, and to let it skim over. It is easy to remove the thin skin with a wide bladed ink knife, with very little loss to the ink in the can. I find that putting paper on it makes more of a mess than it helps. Ink is still one of the cheapest parts of printing, and if you don’t dig into the can with the tip of a rounded knife, but use a flat knife and remove the ink in a circular motion, keeping it flat, you will end up with surprisingly little waste.




how to tube your paint


putting printing ink into tubes.

Some of the results have nothing to do with what is being asked, but there are some useful comments.


Horses for courses , you get ink on the inside of the lid ,yes its messy, But then scraping through ink that shatters and contaminates the paste quality is worse, especially if some of the bits get onto your type in the forme ! I have a couple of tubes of gestelith ink from the days of the offset gestetner so 25 years or more old and they have stayed soft so there is mileage in tubes .
I dont consider the cost of ink as a problem , true , but the waste i hate , yes the lids removal is mucky but so is the greased disc as also was common practise to top the tin !
I only put it up as i have noticed a common reference to the quantity that is availabe caused concern over the storing of it and that it being used less often meant you lose a lot to waste .
It is to be fair a problem that the tubes does sort of eliminate . I wouldnt want to have a go at filling them myself though , trying to clean the tube loader must be a royal pain?