As depicted above, ink making is as voluptuous a process as making a high end candy bar. Having grown up around the printing floor of a daily newspaper, I know that ink’s pungent aroma is the opposite of chocolate-y, but my mouth still started to water. Was it the commercial-ready classical soundtrack or hearing Chief Ink Maker Peter Welfare comparing the pigment’s gooey “vehicle” to honey?
I won’t be dipping my tongue in the ink pot any time soon, but the multistep four color process by which powdered cyan, magenta, yellow, and black hues become press-bound ink proved far more sensual than expected.
Ink making in the 21st-century is a combination of Old and New World techniques.
The history of ink and printing is very old indeed. The Chinese developed moveable type around 1045 and used it to print paper money. The Gutenberg Press was up and running by 1440. The rollers, vats, and mixing tools in use at the Printing Ink Company, Welfare’s family business, are not so far removed from the tools used by early practitioners.
Workers at the Printing Ink Compnany use their fingers to test their product’s tackiness, a predictor of its on-press performance. Presumably, you develop a feel for it after a while.
State of the art computer programs provide further quality control, analyzing for consistency of color and gloss with an accuracy that eludes even the most practiced human eye.
The results can be seen on everything from brochures to fine art prints.