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.