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

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


It's a long story, and one that maybe shouldn't be told.....but, why not? Back about a year ago, in March of 2006, I received an inquiry from my good friend, Craig Cornwall at Stones Crayons. (Have you ever noticed that when someone says, "my good friend" it really isn't the case? Well, not here. I've known Craig and his wife Pam for almost 20 years, and count them among my best friends anywhere.)
Craig, it seems, was stretched a little thin with only 24 hours in the average day. Many of you know that he is an accomplished artist in his own right, he is a contract printer with his Trilobite Press in Olympia, WA, and he is a college professor! Did I mention that he's also a Bishop in the Mormon church? Pam is a teacher/counselor in the Olympia school district, and is counselor in private practice as well!
Stones Crayons was beginning to take more time and energy than the two of them had available, and like most of us that run businesses, they wanted their legacy to continue. They asked us if we were interested in talking about the possible purchase of the major part of their business, and needless to say, Susan and I immediately saw the synergies of adding Stones Crayons to our family.
To make a long story a little shorter, we agreed to begin with moving the shipping of the Stones products to our facilities in Villa Park. Eventually, we began the manufacturing process which was made much easier by the training provided by both of the Cornwalls.
We will continue to run the business as a separate entity to insure the continuity of the name and the product line.
As I'm writing this, I'm watching a program on the Discovery Channel about Bert's Bees and how their product is manufactured. (it's 11:45 p.m. so I can justify having the TV on!) I was struck by the total lack of similarity in their production line and how we manufacture the finest litho drawing supplies available. The only similarity is that they use wax and so do we. Theirs is a fully automated system with conveyors and cooling tunnels, ours isn't, and in many ways, we're pleased with those differences.
Quality was the hallmark of Stones Crayons when Craig and Pam founded the company in 1988, and it continues to be as Stones joins the 87 year old Graphic Chemical family (no, I'm not 87 years old, but there are days that I feel that young!). We pledge to all of the Stones customers that things will only get better.
We continue to host the Stones website ( Why don't you stop by and see what we have to offer. For a variety of reasons, we are not involved in manufacturing the leather rollers and brayers, although we do sell them.
The official announcement will be made during the Southern Graphics Council meeting in Kansas City amid a certain refined level of hoopla. I am so pleased that this has worked out as well as it has. Any time you combine two different systems, there's bound to be a glitch here and there. To be sure, we had a couple of them, but not as many as I feared. We have found an employee that has taken the production of these drawing materials on as his mission. He is truly committed to maintaining the high standards set by the Cornwalls, and so am I.

Friday, March 02, 2007


A little known fact is that, while Graphic Chemical doesn't handle presses anymore, our sister company, Printmakers Machine Company does.

Printmakers, in the form of my partner and I, bought the press line from Graphic back in 1976, and for over 30 years have continued to sell top quality presses at affordable prices.

The cornerstone of our press line is the Sturges presses named for Mr. Lee Sturges, a local businessman and printmaker active in the Chicago Society of Printmakers back in the period before the 1940's. In fact his original press goes back to 1916, making the Sturges line the oldest press line in the United States. The CP-5 (pictured above) is the workhorse of the line being used in universities and workshops around the world. The CP-4 is a bit smaller at 18 x 48" but just as durable as it's big brother.

Litho presses specifically for printmakers made their appearance in the 1950's, and in the 1960's, Ted Dickerson introduced the combination press that bore his name until his death. A unique press that allows you to switch easily from Etching to Stone Litho in less than three minutes. Currently, the Printmakers Combination press is still one of our better sellers.

When Conrad Machine started making their own press line, after their move to Whitehall, MI, we were among the first customers for their line, too. Conrad has been the primary manufacturer for the Sturges line since the late '50's or early '60's, so it made sense to add the additional presses offered by them.

The current line was fleshed out about 10 years ago following a chance conversation with one of our dealers in Belgium led to a meeting with our friends at Polymetaal in Holland. Our trip to visit Polymetaal two days later led to our taking on their line of products in 1998. In addition to numerous etching, litho and relief presses, they offer Rosin Dust Boxes, Trays and Rim Exhaust Tray systems. We have had a lot of interest in these presses, in part because they fit into size ranges not available here, and in part, that despite the Dollar's weakness aganst the Euro, they're still pretty affordable.