I made a goldfish, a guitar, and my first reduction print, a bunch of grapes.
I soon moved on to Speedball waterbased ink, which was just awful (for me; they're a lovely company, and I wish them well). Then I moved up to their oil-based inks, which were awful (again, for me). I then found some relief printing ink from Grapgic Chemical, which was awesome; unfortunately I had yet to learn about driers, and I was very sad to discover that the print I was working on was going to take weeks or months to dry before the next color.
In time, I gave Gamblin relief inks a shot. They were good, but still not what I wanted. On a whim, I tried their etching inks. Bingo.
Today I went to Hyatt's downtown. As you may have already read, I have a love-hate thing going on with them. They're well stocked, the people are friendly, their customer service is top notch, and they almost always have what I need on the shelf. On the down side, their prices are high, and they didn't hire me once when I really, really needed the break. Well, maybe that wasn't their fault. And frankly, I'm happy to pay a few bucks more to support the local economy. I mean, really happy. Like, they could hand me my receipt and say, "You could have saved $12.37 shopping dickblick.com!" To which I would respond, breathless and giddy, "I KNOW!" and skipped out clicking my heels. Yes, I support the local economy.
So, I went in (um, mostly because I had a 30% coupon), and picked up three cans of ink (two blues and a green) and was carrying them around like a precious newborn. The guy -- and if you've ever shopped Hyatt's, you know The Guy (he's sort of like Chippewa, fun if you're in the mood, annoying if you're trying to get somewhere, dependably there, probably really scary in the 60s and 70s -- comes up and asks if I needed help finding anything. See, when I go in the store, I always go grab the thing I need, so as to avoid being asked if I need anything. Because I'm a buyer, but I'm also a browser, and I like to be left to my lonesome. And today, I had an armful of ink. I was immune.
No immunity from The Guy. "What are we doing?" he asked, eyeing the cans. "Oooh, etching?" Ha, I thought, and smiled, "Woodcuts!" I proclaimed proudly. Then he gave me stinkeye.
Okay, maybe it's not stinkeye. Wait, let's check....
Yep, that's stinkeye. I googled it. This is what I got, and it's what I got from The Guy.
Anyway, I knew what he was thinking. You silly tool. You étudiant enfantine! You naive dunce! We have RELIEF inks for woodcuts!
"It works," I said. "Trust me."
So, why do I prefer the etching inks? The relief inks come already thinned out, and while they do flow easily, I prefer using burnt plate oil to make the ink run at the consistency I want. You also get a wider range of colors, and they seem to mix better.
And so far, they are working very well. I'd like to get to the point of mixing my own inks, but that's down the road. When the time comes, though, I know The Guy will be there to help me find my way.