Tag Archives: old inks

Reconstituting Screen Printing Inks

So one thing that the Goblinessa is obsessed about lately is screen printing and stenciling garment edges.  (Not that we have MADE any actual garments yet.)  Yesterday, I met with my Sister in Law, who is getting married in October, to discuss adornment options.  We may be using some screen printed organza or violle somewhere in there and I decided to make a couple of test samples for her to look at while she is here.

dry and gummy magenta ink
dry and gummy magenta ink

When I pulled out my Jacquard inks, I was dismayed to find that most of them were gummy and some of them were downright sticky and grainy.  I really don’t want to buy new inks right now so I decided to try mixing in some water to see if that would smooth them out.

These inks are probably 5 years old or more.  They have mostly been sitting in my studio storage, which gets very cold and very hot.  Some years, I have forgotten to move my inks, dyes & mediums out of there before the weather hits 30 below and they have gotten a bit . . . frostbitten.

reconstituting printing ink
mixing water in to reconstitute the old ink

Water and lots of stirring seemed to do the trick.  My wrist is sore and I used a lot of paper towels in clean up but I think these inks will work again.  Jacquards line of screen printing inks are all water based so if this trick worked with the professional grade, it would probably work with their other inks, too.  I have also found that you can water these down quite a bit for printing before they get runny, which is nice for sheer fabrics.  I can’t wait to do a test run on the organza and voille!

ready to print
water and lots of stirring resulted in a creamy consistency ready for printing

I made a quick test print on paper with the magenta ink after I had stirred it for long enough to make it smooth.   It worked well.  No lumps to drag across the image, no graininess or gummy spots.  (Yes, I know that is a lame-o screen.  I haven’t done a lot of printing so I don’t have lots of professional frames.  This one is made with screen from ezscreenprint.com, stabilized in a piece of old mat board which was sealed up in duct tape.  It gets the job done for very small runs.)

My white and copper were both pretty far gone – almost like stretchy plastic instead of ink or paint.  They took a while stirring and adding water gradually but they came around.  I used a butter knife from the kitchen – a dowel wasn’t doing the trick – I needed something with a wide, flat edge and a blunt blade so I could smush the ink against the edge of the container and cut it into bits with the blade.  If you have real painter’s tools in your studio, a flat metal oil paint spatula would probably work pretty well.

magenta print
a successful print with the reconstituted ink

When I bought inks, I chose the Professional grade  because they can be used on just about ANYTHING – fabric and paper, yes, but also vinyl, some plastic, leather and wood.  Plus it has a long open time – which is good because I am slow.

I am still hoping to buy some new inks.  Jacquard didn’t have all of their process colors (or Dharma wasn’t carrying them) when I bought my first batch.  The yellow that I have leans pretty far toward orange – it is sort of an egg yolk-y color and they didn’t have cyan.  I can’t make a nice green with it.  So maybe someday soon I will get those CMY hues into the studio but I will wait to see how much I actually use in this new line Molly and I are working on.  I have a bad habit of spending money on stuff I want and then not using it.  The Goblinessa makes me do it.  She is very impractical.

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