Metallic Inks

Print­ing with metal­lic inks is dif­fi­cult, but the reward is a unique look to your work

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.