Etching ink for letterpress?

Hi All,

I’ve been cleaning out a bunch of old ink from a studio that I inherited, and I’ve found a few cans of etching ink. Does anyone know of any uses for etching ink for letterpress? I’m wondering if the viscosity and/or pigment load could make it useful as a modifier.


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Yes, Etching inks can be used as coloring agents and to reduce the viscosity of printing inks if required. Generally the intaglio inks are much thinner so they will wipe cleanly off the surface of the plates.

If you use them, you will want to do some testing to determine drying characteristics.

We used some Charbonnel etching ink once…it took forever to dry.

I use etching and hand litho inks all the time on my letterpress — It almost certainly has no drier in it — if you want to use it get some cobalt drier and add a couple of drops to a small batch then use it. If you have any old real cobalt blue you can uses a little of that as well — if the color will stand it.


Etching inks tend to be a bit too grainy for letterpress work, but they work very well for cleaning the glaze off your rollers, in between projects.

If you find any stone lithographic inks in the studio, well now, those will work out just fine, best you can use on a hand press or hand-operated press (Vandercook).