"Any color as long as it's black" may have
been a catchy line for Hery Ford
to describe the colors available for his Model T automobile color
choice 90 years ago - back when many of our presses were made - and we
may choose black ink for legibility when printing text, but in today's
small print shop, color is an integral part of design, and "any color as long as it's black" just
But, buying a
full color selection of one-pound cans of less-frequently
used colors can cost a bit. See http://order.nagraph.com/ink.html
for a selection of inks available in one pound cans and 1/4 pound
See below for a full listing of ink
available from "The Ink in Tubes Guy"
- Dave Robinson - Ink@ORCHIDesign.com in approx. 1/4 pound tubes - an
excellent option for
the small print shop.
Another option we recommend in our Introduction to Letterpress
Printing tutorial sessions, is to befriend a local offset printer
and see if you can get some small amounts of possibly left-over mixed
inks - or half-empty cans of no-longer used inks they may have on their
Most of them will be using rubber-based inks - often Van Son - which run fine on the
See also: Ink-buying
Beginners at Briar Press
History of Ink in Tubes
approximately 100 years while
the Kelsey Company was in
business, they sold in ink in 1/4-pound tubes, which cost less to buy -
and to ship. And, since many letterpress projects require only as much
ink as would fill a thimble, stocking up with hundreds of dollars worth
of one-pound cans is not always practical.
Besides, with ink in tubes, there is almost no waste. With cans,
"skimming" the top to get to fresh ink can waste more than you will use!
Many old tubes of Kelsey ink surface these days in the boxes of
supplies that sometimes have been stored for years along with that
rusty old press someone had found in a garage, attic or basement. And,
surprising to some, many of those old tubes contain perfectly
usable ink as many as 50 years after they were filled.
But the Kelsey Company is gone and aside from the occassional discovery
of a tube or two of old ink that's still usable, their inks are no
And then, for many years, Van
Son Ink offered their inks in 1 pound cartridges which could be used
with a standard "caulking gun". Sad to say, they are no longer offered, either.
But Ink in Tubes are back!
Robison in San Jose, CA offers ink in tubes to letterpress
While offset presses may have problems printing with letterpress inks,
offset inks - like the ones that Dave offers, generally work just fine
on the letterpress.
Oil based vs Rubber based vs
Soy based inks:
Oil base inks dry
on any stock and must be cleaned off press at day's
end. Soy base inks print just like regular oil base but may take a bit
longer to dry. Rubber base inks may be left on press overnight if you
must, but are not advised for printing on coated stock. A few inks for
Tyvek also available. Additional colors are on hand but not in tubes
yet, and some other colors are available by Special Order; please ask
about specific colors you may want, but allow plenty of time for
putting in tubes and printing labels.
Almost everybody using these inks
is doing letterpress printing, but (except as noted) these inks are not
"letterpress inks" per se, they're standard modern offset inks packed
into 1/4 lb. tubes for convenience. The inks are very suitable for
letterpress, but pigments are intense and colors may print darker when
printed letterpress due to ink film thickness. You may have to mix with
white to match some colors.
"Putting ink in tubes, started to share ink among local letterpress
friends, is a tiny, very part-time hobby operation trying to make the
best use of available ink. It's also a great excuse to use my vintage
hand-cranked Multigraph rotary printing press and handset type to print
labels and boxes!"
- Dave Robison
"Ink In Tubes" Updated Price & Availability Lists - June, 2013
INK IN TUBES on hand; "Quarter pound" (actually about
OIL BASE STANDARD COLORS
ADDITIONAL OIL BASE COLORS
[Many other colors available but not in tubes yet; ask!]
OIL BASE PANTONE BASIC COLORS
White (transparent, for mixing)
SOY BASE INKS
RUBBER BASE INKS
- many colors available
- [Be sure to specify "rubber base" when ordering!]
METALLIC INKS (about 6-8 oz. per tube)
- FLUORESCENT INKS
801 Fluorescent Blue
803 Fluorescent Yellow
804 Fluorescent Orange
805 Fluorescent Red
806 Fluorescent Pink
807 Fluorescent Magenta
Gloss Binding Varnish
Dull (Matte) Varnish
Oil base ink will be shipped unless specified otherwise. We try to keep
most listed ink in tubes on the shelf ready for immediate shipment.
via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(note: dated rates; may have changed for 2013)
1 tube $3.50 First Class
Up to 10 tubes of ink, USPS Priority Flat
11-14 tubes, $15.45.
Payment: Send a check to:
1361 Plum St.
San Jose, CA 95110
|photos from http://duetletterpress.com/blog/category/letterpress/
Please contact Alan
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page last updated
June 6, 2009
June 16, 2012 May 14, 2013