Intaglio Printmaing Outside the NIU Studio=FAIL

With only one week left of school before finals, I finished up some printmaking homework using a baby press that my brother, Al Stark, and I purchased together earlier this year. The Northern Illinois University print shop was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday break. This was the first time I had the chance to use the baby pressand I was excited to get started. Ta-da! Here is is:
My co-op baby press!

Using this baby press has taught me several things. First, intaglio printing is properly fun only when using a fully-equipped print shop with a full size press and a myriad of inks and modifiers.

Second, water-based inks suck and oil based inks are far more easily cleaned when using toxic and/or noxious chemicals.

Lastly, that I am going to have a fully operational print shop straight away because I love the colors, the level of detail that can be achieved, and the sheer glowing beauty of intaglio or dry etch. If anyone has a press they want to get rid of just email me!! I live in Illinois, so the closer the better!

Now, don't get me wrong. I am a woodblock print artist and enjoy that medium immensely. I love the way the wood feels under the blade. I love how a drawing is transformed by the wood, how the ink soaks into the wood, the natural and organic nature of the woodblock; BUT intaglio does offer so much detail in such a small space. I imagine making a series of postage stamp size pieces just for fun.

Although, my baby press experiments are not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, I know that I just need to get used to new equipment and I'll find my way. I just didn't have time to really explore today. Here are the failed experiments and my findings.

Akua water-based relief ink with tack thickener - Experiment fail. The first experiment involved using some inks I already owned: Akua brand. They were intended for relief printing, but my inexperience led me to think that if I could just thicken the ink enough it would allow ink to get into the valleys of an etched block. Quick answer?  No way, no how.  No matter how thick I could make the Akua color with the tack thickener, the ink remained on the surface of the plate. I'm not sure if you can tell from this phone photo, but the lines of the etch are actually white.
Water-based Charbonnel ink in Sepia - Experiment fail. The Charbonnel ink came in a tube and was much thicker than the previously used Akua inks - which are liquid.  It was not as full-bodied as the Graphic Chemical intaglio ink though. I liked the effect of this relief ink on an etched copper plate, but did not like the unevenness of the print.
Graphic Chemical oil-based intaglio ink - Fail. Ok. I finally used an ink intended for intaglio printmaking. I thought there was no way for this one to fail. I carded on the ink and used the tarlatan confident that THIS print would turn out. Unfortunately for me I do not have enough experience on my equipment to set the pressure correctly. Three strikes and I was out for the day. 

Just to prove that a nice quality print is possible with the baby press, here is my brother's dry-point print. I like how it looks like a graphite drawing.

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