Sunday, January 15, 2012

InkAid Ink Jet Printing Obsession

InkAid is a liquid product that you can paint on a wide range of papers to get a clearer & more colorful ink jet print out. It can also be used on flat surfaces that you would not normally be able to print on like thin metal shim. It comes in transparent, opaque and shimmer transparent. I have played with InkAid before, but never with so many different papers and metal.  I painted it on papyrus, hand-made papers, rice paper, and thin copper metal shim.

Trying to get the papers and metals to go nicely through the printer without jamming, crumpling up, or smearing ink was the trickiest part. The metal shim went through the printer easier than the papyrus which according to Mom went “ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk” as it went through.  I’m going to have to get a separate printer for experiments, because hearing a piece of rice paper get jammed in the good printer is rather nerve wracking. I was probably lucky because I didn’t manage to destroy the printer.

Below is a sheet of papyrus painted with Opaque InkAid. It got quite wrinkly when it was painted. Ironing the papers once the InkAid dried with a Teflon press cloth over them worked great to flatten them out. The papyrus was definitely the thickest and most textured paper that I tried to get through the printer.
Papyrus painted with Opaque InkAid
Photo printed on papyrus painted with Transparent InkAid

I still have to experiment to find the best way to get the paper or whatnot through the printer without jamming. Thin papers like rice paper need to be reinforced with regular printer paper to make it easier to send them through the printer. It is possible to send rice paper through without reinforcing it as long as it isn’t really thin and delicate. If the rice paper or other delicate paper is cut to the size of printer paper (8.5x11”) then you can tape  it to a piece of printer paper at one of the 8.5” edges.  Be sure to send the papers through the printer with the taped edge first. Taping on the backside ensures that you won’t get ink on the tape which can smear. If the tape is on the front side of the paper then try to size the image you are printing so that it won’t print on the tape.
Photo printed on rice paper painted with Transparent InkAid

Using double stick tape to tape thin papers or paper scraps to printer paper was the easiest way to prepare InkAid coated papers for printing. You don’t want to be too skimpy with the tape or you could end up with crumpled paper and a paper jam in your printer.

These are three pieces of paper painted with InkAid that were taped down to printer paper with double-stick tape. You can see that the left piece of paper crumpled up at the bottom in the printer because I didn't have enough tape securing it to the printer paper.
Glacier Bay, AK photo printed on: Rice papers on right and left painted with Transparent InkAid & Hand-made blue paper with silver flecks painted with Opaque InkAid in the center
The double stick tape also worked pretty well for the copper metal shim pieces.  My metal shim was pretty thin so I didn’t manage to get all the tape back off of the shim after it was printed on. My shim was also so thin that is was easy to tear it while removing the printer paper backing I’d put on it. I had to be patient separating the shim from the paper, but the results were worth it.

Here's the very thin copper metal shim painted with one coat of Opaque InkAid on the right and Iridescent Gold InkAid on the left:

 Below are the prints on copper. The left one is on the Opaque InkAid and the right one is the Iridescent InkAid. I didn't clean the copper first with alcohol so I got some spotting where the InkAid didn't stick to the copper so the ink printed in those areas didn't stick either. It would probably also have been good to use copper that hadn't get crumpled.


The primary difficulty for me was that the InkAid instructions recommend that you wait 24 hours after you’ve painted the InkAid on your paper or other substance before you print on it. Urgh. The waiting is tough. In some cases you might want to put on two coats of InkAid which means you have to wait for it to dry once, paint it again, and then wait 24 hours to print. I suppose I could try printing on it as soon as it’s dry and see if I notice a difference, but is it really worth the risk…? I would think the InkAid manufacturers put that instruction there for a reason. Oh well, must be patient.

The Opaque InkAid really covers up the original color of the paper if you paint it on colored papers even with only one coat. When you paint on the opaque it looks like it is going to be transparent and then as it dries it becomes opaque.

One thing that I found fascinating was the way the colors from the original image were changed when you used the Transparent InkAid with tinted paper or metal. I suppose if I gave it some thought I could figure it out to some extent… yellow printed on a copper is going to be more orange than when it is printed on white. Even with the Transparent InkAid on a colored surface like copper though, more of the original ink color is retained than you might expect. The blue ink printed on copper still looks blue as opposed to brown.

One issue to keep in mind with using InkAid is the smell. If you are sensitive, you may want to wear a respirator while applying the InkAid. The instructions don’t say you have to wear one but they do suggest that you have good ventilation. You are also supposed to wear gloves while you apply the InkAid. I missed that part until it was too late this time, but the InkAid rinsed off my fingers fine with soap and water.

If I had some more time to experiment, I think I would be thoroughly addicted to using InkAid. (Until I discover another art obsession anyway.)  I want to paint any remotely flat paper-like substance with it and send it through the printer. There are so many possibilities. Maggie Grey shows how you can create collages of things like papers and lace, paint InkAid over the collages, and send those through the printer in her book “From Image to Stitch.”

I’ve created numerous cool pieces of paper so now I have to find a way to incorporate them in completed works of art.
Image of tree roots printed on hand-made paper
FYI – If you can’t easily get InkAid, Golden acrylics also makes a digital ground which is the same type of product. In the few experiments that I did, the prints made with the Golden product were not as bright as the prints using the InkAid product.

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