Although I am a relief printmaker, I work with transparent ink that is traditionally made for lithographers. Inks when fresh from the can are very concentrated, and like other media, some are more transparent than others. If you print too concentrated a color, it can be very difficult to cover that color over with a subsequent color, even if the color on top is very opaque.
When I talk about inks to non-printmakers, I explain that the transparent base in what holds all the pigment in. Here is what two types of transparent base look like, with and without some pigment added:
Handschy transparent base (left) vs. Graphic Chemical transparent base (right)
My inks are by Handschy, purchased from Graphic Chemical. I the past I have used Handschy transparent base as well (on the left), purchasing it in 5 lb tubs. It has the consistency of honey (very sticky), and while it is very transparent, it has a tendency to impart its yellowish tone to my ink mixes. So it was hard to get any delicate purplish-blue layers. And it became difficult to purchase.
So I’ve just started using a transparent base made by Graphic Chemical (on the right). As you can see from the picture, it is stiff and white! It seems to be almost as transparent when rolled out, and it does allow those delicate blue layers I’d been hoping for. I have to mix it with some of Daniel Smith’s Miracle Gel to get it to a consistency where it can be rolled out. So far the layers are still transparent, and the ink seems to adhere to the layer on the paper well.
A new relationship…always exciting, and a bit unknown.