Art prints, BFK and Ink

I’m shopping around for ink, but aside from work time, I can’t seem to find the difference in using rubber based and oil based.
I’m mainly going to be using heavy cotton papers like Reeves BFK and similar art papers.

Would I be better off with oil or rubber ink?

And do I try to remove the rollers in order to clean them?

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Both rubber base and oil base inks dry in two ways: by being absorbed into the substrate (sheet), and by reacting with the oxygen in the air to form a solid film.

Rubber base ink is formulated to dry primarily by absorbing into the sheet, (although it will also react with the oxygen in the air, to a slight degree). If it can’t absorb into the sheet, such as if it is printed on some of the coated papers, or paper with metal foil laminated to it, it will dry very slowly, if at all. Because of this, it should not be used on non-absorbent substrates. An advantage of rubber base ink is that it will not dry and form a skin in the can, or on anything else that it can’t soak into, like your ink knife.

Oil base ink is formulated to dry and form a solid film by reacting with the oxygen in the air. It will dry on any type of substrate, whether it is absorbent or not. However, if it is printed on an absorbent sheet, it will absorb into it to some extent.

It sounds like you will be using absorbent sheets, so you could go with either type of ink. It might be easier for you to start out with rubber base inks.

Regarding cleaning rollers on or off the press, you haven’t told us what type of press you have, and that makes a difference. There are a wide variety of opinions on this. I have a 7 X 11 Golding, and for me it is easier to clean them on the press. Since I don’t print that often, I then take them off the press and store them in a wood box which I made, away from dust.

In the beginning there was only oil base ink. Rubber base is more recent.
Oil base ink dries mostly by oxidation and some by absorption, if the paper will allow. Oil base is the only one to use on coated stock.
Rubber base ink dries mostly by absorption and some by oxidation.
It doesn’t matter if you take the rollers off or leave them on as long as you get them clean clean. This include over the ends of the rollers. If you leave them on the press, park them in the middle of the chase/bed area where the springs have their least extension.

Geoffrey, I’m using a C&P Old style. I think it’s an 8x10. I was told based on a photo that my rollers are about 20 years old. Need new ones.

And thanks, both of you

Hi Amanda, your press is probably an 8 X 12. C&P didn’t make an 8 X 10. Measure the inside of the chase and that is the size of your press.

I had a C&P 8 X 12 for many years. To clean the rollers, I would roll them up on the ink disc, then drip several drops of press wash on the ink disc, above the top roller, and from side to side across the ink disc. Then run the press for 5 or 10 cycles. That will make the ink soft and slimy but not thin enough to drip off the disc or rollers. Then with the rollers down and the press stopped, wipe off the ink disc with a cotton cloth (I used old undershirts). Then cycle the press a few times more, and again wipe the ink off the disc. If you do that a few more times, you will have almost all the ink off the rollers and the disc. Then roll the rollers up, put some press wash on a clean part of your cloth, and wipe the remaining ink off the rollers as they roll down and off the ink disc (you might have to do that a couple of times). Then wipe the remaining ink off the disc and you are done!

Please remember safety at all times. Don’t get the rag near the press when the press is moving, because the rag (and your hand) can easily be pulled in and injured. When you are cleaning the rollers with the rag at the end, just move the press by hand very slowly. Before you do anything in printing, please get in the habit of asking yourself, “Is this safe, and the safest way to do this?” I want you to have fun and not have any close calls and most of all, never to get injured.

Another safety related thing: when you use a rag, always fold it into the size of a pad which you can hold in your hand, with all the corners and edges of the rag folded inside the “pad”. This way it is much harder for the rag to get caught in the press.

Thanks, Geoffrey, you’ve been a huge help!
I got the press almost a month ago and it’s been hard holding myself back from tinkering. Instead I’ve poured the energy into research, reading a couple of recommended books and asking lots of questions.
Now that I have oil points, ink and clean up figured out I can tackle the tympan, packing paper and all the different types of guides.
After that I can finish carving my block and do that test print to see how things stand. It’s a big learning curve, but I’ll get there. :D

You’re welcome Amanda….glad I could help.