Graphic Chemical & Ink Company is a world leader in the fine art field of printmaking. We manufacture our own time-tested inks for etching, litho and relief printing, as well as sell screen print inks, papers, tools, chemistry, plates and supplies for all of a printmaker's needs

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Location: Villa Park, Illinois, United States

I have worked for Graphic Chemical & Ink Company since 1968 - with a brief hiatus(almost 4 years) to travel the World courtesy of my uncle. Sadly it turns out it was my Uncle Sam, and I wasn't too thrilled about the places that he chose to send me. My wife and I have run Graphic Chemical for many years, and have enjoyed the travel that comes with the position. We get to meet our customers (and the occasional vendor) from all over the World

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Today marks the beginning of our IMPACT IV adventure. The first wave of staff/family from Graphic Chemical leaves in a few hours to begin the trek to Poznan, Poland for this important trade show. We are all excited about the possibilities and potential. Some friends of ours just returned from Poland, and had nothing but great things to say about their trip.

We begin the odyssey in Lithuania, where we'll open a new distributor, and meet with some well known Lithuanian artists at a reception on Friday, September 2nd. From there the entourage (and I've always wanted an entourage) will head for Berlin for the conference portion of IMPACT IV. On Wednesday, September 7th the whole IMPACT group will head, by train, to Poznan for the product fair and demonstrations.

Once IMPACT IV is over, we'll begin a trip to southern Germany to visit a number of our suppliers there. Hopefully, we'll get to the quarries at Solnhofen where the litho stones come from, and we'll visit some of our tool manufacturers as well.

While I may not have access to a computer for a while, I'll try to keep everyone posted on the progress of the trip. With any luck, we'll come back with new products, new ideas and ideally, for us, new customers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I have wanted to write something about presses for a while now, and there's so much to talk about them. What are the best brands, ideal format, how important is roller size and the list goes on. I received an e-mail this morning asking about the one problem that everyone seems to have at one time or another as a press owner....rust!

Rust is a real problem for some of us that live in humid climates. It seems to be insidious, attacking all unpainted surfaces. I've heard all sorts of methods trying to stave it off, but prevention is difficult if you want the press to continue working. The typical printmakers with a rust problem owns an etching press. Lithographers, in general, don't see the problem of rust because it affects the only press roller they have, the lower roller, and it remains unseen for the most part.

On an etching press, the upper roller is right out there where you can't miss it. Rust is pretty easy to spot, and can make a difference in several ways. First of all, it can mess up your blankets - quickly. Secondly, over time, it can attack the roller and leave pits that ultimately could transfer to your image if not corrected.

So, what's the best corrective action? Rust begins as a surface problem, and can easily be treated by using a soft wire brush. It is important, however, to note that the upper roller of your press is not smooth! There is some quality designed into the roller surface to allow it to grab the blankets on almost every press. Many rollers are actually lightly threaded, like a large bolt. Others can be sandblasted to give a tooth to the surface. You need to know what your press has so you know how to correct the problem. In general, you want to brush in the direction that the roller turns, not across the surface. You can accomplish this by holding the brush in place and turning the handle on the's slow but effective.

If the rust has become deep-seated, you may want to try buying some Naval Jelly at the hardware store. This is a paint on product that will go after the rust with a vengance. Don't try to oil the roller or spray clear acrylics or enamels to protect it. You might be successful, but more than likely, you'll just decrease the effectiveness of the abrasive surface. Rust is an annoyance, but a little bit of work before it gets bad, and you will be fine.

A final note that has nothing to do with rust. OIL! Presses are very simple pieces of equipment, not high-tech at all. They do need to be oiled on a fairly regular basis. Check with the manufacturer of your press for specifics, but if in doubt, use a 30 weight motor oil on the bearings, and a little grease on the pressure screws maybe once a month to be safe. Usually, gear boxes need little or no attention in this respect, but check with the maker to be sure.

Friday, August 05, 2005

IMPACT IV - part 2

Truth be told, the picture associated with the first posting on IMPACT IV might have been a little misleading. It wasn't so much Poland or Germany, as much as it was an Irish monastery. But you have to admit it looked pretty authentic now, didn't it?

After confiding that little indescretion with my friend Beauvais Lyons at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, he provided me with photos of the real deal, the actual venues for the upcoming conference.

Above is the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien where the Druckerwerkstatt is located. Check the IMPACT IV website at for the schedule of events.

The Poznan, Poland town hall, pictured at the left is the center of this wonderful old town where the second half of the IMPACT IV conference will be held. The all important Product Fair (at least it's important to us) will take place in Poznan on September 8th and 9th.

The list of vendors increases daily. This is not a huge show, but the quality of the exhibitors is worth noting. The current lineup includes, in no particular order:
Graphic Chemical & Ink (US) - everything for the printmaker
T.N. Lawrence (UK) - printmaking inks and supplies, sundries
Polymetaal (Holland) - printmaking equipment
Papierfabrik Zerkall (Germany) - printmaking papers
John Purcell Papers (UK) - printmaking papers
Systemy Medyczne i Edukacyjne Krzysztof Chelminski (Poland) - equipment for processing photo polymer films.

I suspect that there could be at least one more US company that may attend. Hopefully I can announce that here in a day or so.

Zamek Cultural Center - Poznan, Poland

Poznan National Museum - Poznan, Poland

Tabor Press - Berlin, Germany

Thursday, August 04, 2005


From time to time, a customer question creates one of those "aha" moments. Recently, a new customer wrote in to our Discussion Forum ( with a question about printing on black T-shirts. The color was just being sucked in to the shirt and losing any vibrancy that it might have had.

I know how to handle a situation like that in intaglio, litho or relief printing, but screen printing isn't my strongest suit. So I started looking through my notes, and - shazaam! - there was the answer big as life.

Speedball has introduced a new Opaque Fabric line that is designed to deal with that very problem. For the faint of heart, they have introduced an all inclusive Super Value Opaque Fabric Screen Printing Kit. I'd love to shorten that, but can you imagine the acronym ? The kit contains a 10 x 14" screen frame, three jars of ink in pearlescent colors (Silver, Raspberry, and Blue Topaz), Screen Filler, Drawing Fluid, Photo Emulsion, Sensitizer and Remover, a round brush, and, of course, an instruction booklet.

Each of these items is available separately and additional ink colors include:
Black Pearl, Pearly White, Amethyst, Sherbet, Emerald, Citrine and Gold. If you have any questions about this, please let us know.

Monday, August 01, 2005


When my grandfather, Robert P. Faulkner, first founded Graphic Chemical & Ink Company in 1920, his goal was to make the finest inks available anywhere. Some things never change. That same goal drives us today - the finest inks available anywhere.

We are sometimes tempted to take for granted the fact that our inks are well known and sought after. It's always good, however, to remind ourselves, and our customers, that this is why we are in business.

There are literally hundreds of companies selling printmaking inks today. Very few of them are manufacturers. In the United States, there are probably fewer than 10 companies that actually manufacture inks specifically for printmaking. Within that number, I can think of only one other that is focused solely on printmaking inks to the exclusion of other types of inks or paints.

The most recent trend in printmaking in recent years is that of the non-toxic studio. This is a very important concept and one that I hope each and every one of you explores. Graphic Chemical was pushing less toxic approaches to printmaking over 30 years ago - suggesting the use of Ferric Chloride, or Copper Etching Solution, when no one wanted to give up their Dutch Mordant or Nitric Acid.

In the mid-'80's, again when no one was terribly interested, Graphic Chemical joined with some of the major players in the art materials world (Hunt/Speedball, Grumbacher, Binney & Smith, Strathmore and Windsor Newton), to form what is now known as the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) out of the old Crayon and Watercolor Institute. Tremendous amounts of time and money were spent to institute labeling standards for art materials, and then to lobby for the passage of legislation in each state to insure that materials were properly labeled and, in some cases, withheld from younger school age children for their safety and well-being.

Our inks - etching, relief/block print, lithographic and Perfection Palette - have all been reviewed by an independent toxicologist from Duke University. He has reviewed the formula on each one and determined that these inks are non-toxic. The only problem with printmaking inks in general, is what you choose to clean up with.

There are so many safe materials to use in the clean up process today, that I sometimes wonder why anyone would choose not to use these options.