Metallic Inks

Amor Coaster (from Flickr)

Metallic inks are now supplied ready mixed, but you might like to experiment with older types of inks.  The basic premise is that the varnish (a clear vehicle for the colour) is mixed with a powder (typically made of ground up metal) to create an ink.  This approach was needed in the past because the two had a tendency to separate.  Silver ink was first to be supplied ready mixed because aluminium is light and so did not separate.  Golden inks relied on heavier metals that had a tendency to fall to the bottom of the container and so ruin the overall ink.

The process is to set the power out within the recommended proportions by weight, typically —

  • 3 Varnish: 1 Gold
  • 2 Varnish: 1 Silver

But manufacturer’s advice would over-rule these suggestions.  The power should have a little well made in it and the varnish should be added to this.  A test for readiness is to use an ink knife to scoop up the ink and make sure that you can create a three inch strand of continuous ink flowing.

Too much powder will leave too little varnish to carry the ink and this will leave the powder on the surface of the finished job which will be prone to rubbing off.

Finally, whether using ready-mixed or traditional metallic inks, you could experiment by adding a little colour to see if you can achieve a metallic coloured effect on your work.