PRINTMAKING safe printmaking


I have been interested in and invested in safe printmaking in my own studio for some time, but it has taken a while to gather sufficient information in order to provide a separate page on this site. Chemicals may have been the cause health and safety problems for printmakers in the past but there are now many excellent substitues in terms of inks, cleaning materials as well as new ways of working with these materials.


"The Caligo product range includes traditional printing inks for intaglio, lithography, relief and letterpress printing. We also make inks for more specialist printmaking applications such as inks for Collotype printing and Letterpress.
NEW !! We have recently introduced a new range of Safe Wash Inks (for relief and intaglio printing.) Caligo Safe Wash inks are oil-based, but they have been designed to clean up safely with just liquid hand soap and water. No solvents are needed ! We are in the process of updating our website so please check these pages for the latest information about these new products. For ordering information, please visit our Contact page."
If you have any questions or comments about the new Caligo Safe Wash inks, please write to us at
Calico inks can be cleaned up very easily using washing up liquid, this is the method I use for cleaning rollers / brayers. It is also possible to clean up a glass slab used for rolling up ink by using glass cleaner, this also works well on metal tools, but I would hesitate to use it on good quality rollers / brayers.
This is a water based ink that can be cleaned up with water.
Fluid Pigment for Printmaking & Painting on Paper
Originally developed for monotype printmaking, Akua Kolor can also be used for other techniques, such as Japanese woodcut and painting on paper. By adding drops of these concentrated pigments into Akua Intaglio Transparent Base, you can custom make intaglio or relief inks.
Water-based Ink for Intaglio & Relief
Akua Intaglio is a printmaker's dream come true. Originally formulated for intaglio printmaking, this ink can also be applied with a brayer for relief printmaking, monotype, and collagraphs; and it will print from any plastic, wood, linoleum or metal plate. They contain no driers, offering a long working time for monotype or wiping the plate.
I love using this smooth ink for relief printing but it may not be stiff enough for intaglio .
I have experienced the effects of working long hours using solvent based screen printing inks and I would certainly recommend the change to more environmentally friendly water based inks.
Daler-Rowney's System 3 provides a transparent base to which System 3 acrylic paint may be added to form a satisfactory water based ink with a wide range of colours.
Growing numbers of professional printmakers are switching to water-based acrylics for solvent-free screenprinting. With no noxious fumes, sophisticated ventilation systems are not required and all equipment cleans with water.
Adding Lascaux Screenprinting Paste to Lascaux colours enables one to work in silkscreen technique as part of a 100% water-based system. Provided one already works with Lascaux colours, no extra screen printing inks need to be purchased. This feature is especially practical for schools. Stencils and cleaning materials must be compatible with a water-based system. Lascaux Screenprinting Paste also functions as a retarder, prolonging the drying time during printing and facilitating cleaning the screens. It also can be used as a retarder in painting.
This really is quite simple but may require some experimentation. One way is to use wallpaper paste and add colour as pigment or from a tube.