Tag Archives: non-toxic printmaking

Speedball acquires Akua Inks

If you aren’t on either of their mailing lists, let us be the first to share the news:  The beloved water-based printmaking ink company, Akua, is being acquired by Speedball.  This means that these inks, which many artists claim as essential in setting up a non-toxic studio, will become more available and easier to find through Speedball’s larger distribution abilities.

Artist and Akua co-creator Susan Rostow says of the acquisition:

I believe this union is the right next step for Akua. After spending a lot of time with Speedball discussing our mutual goals, I know they share the same passion for providing artists and students with a wider range of high quality products for safer, traditional and contemporary printmaking. Speedball has an excellent facility and team of highly qualified professionals who will ensure the quality of Akua remains through the transition in manufacturing. I believe that Speedball is the perfect home for Akua and I am thrilled to see my baby placed in such good hands.

Also, both the Akua website and Facebook page will remain up and running , with the information, print gallery, video demos, and online shopping cart that users rely on now.

Printmaking 101: Galvanic Etching

"Rest Stop" by Dean Russell Thompson, a galvanic etching

New artist member Dean Russell Thompson is a multi-talented artist–creating works using lithography, woodcut, and the interesting process of galvanic etching.

Galvanic etching, (also known as electro-etching) is a “green” or “safe” alternative to traditional acid intaglio processes as it puts off no acid fumes or flammable gas and there is no hazardous waste to be disposed of.  Here are the basic, abbreviated steps to how it works:

First, an image is transferred to a metal plate.  The most common (maybe only?) way we have heard of is using an image printed using a laser printer and ironing it onto a metal plate.  The heat of the iron sticks the toner to the plate, and the paper can then be soaked off.

The plate with the toner image is then put on exposed wiring or a metal grid and immersed in a solution of water and copper sulfate.  The wiring is connected to a battery (lawnmower, car, etc).  When the battery is turned on, a charge runs through the wire and the plate.  Anywhere there is toner, the brass stays in place.  All exposed areas are bitten away, as the acid does in a traditional etching process.

The result is a plate that can hold ink just like a traditional etching.  From here on out, printing the place is the same as printing any other intaglio plate.

If you’re interested in learning more about this process, we found the most helpful website to be by Steampunk Workshop, which goes into way more detail than we have here.  You can see examples of Dean’s galvanic etchings in the gallery and on our website.