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Printmaking inks


Are your Caligo Safe Wash inks toxic?

The inks have been comprehensively reviewed by an independent toxicologist and are considered “non-toxic” in accordance with the ACMI “Approved Product” (AP) seal, more info about the ACMI seal can be found here.


What is the best way to store my inks/paints?

Oil based inks and paints dry through a reaction with oxygen.  Keep your tubes and tins in a cool location away from heat and direct sunlight. Reduce the access of air by cleaning threads on tubes, replace caps quickly and firmly. For tins, skim ink from the surface (don’t dig out big chunks), don’t mix/stir the ink in the tin, cover the ink surface with an airtight seal, seal the lid with airtight tape. Don’t return unused ink back to the tin. 

How do I clean up using Caligo Safe Wash inks?

Caligo Safe Wash can be cleaned up a number of ways using soapy water.
Our standard advice is:
  1. Remove excess ink with a rag or by rolling onto old newspaper or similar.
  2. Apply liquid soap/detergent directly onto the inky surfaces with a rag, clean brush or a soft sponge. 
  3. Wipe away the ink-soap mixture with a damp sponge or a paper towel and rinse with fresh water. Carefully dry all surfaces before storage. 

Note: Only use cold water, not hot.  Using water alone (no soap) may leave ink residue on surfaces. 


Ink, How can I speed up drying times?

Drying is influenced by a wide range of factors.  Principle factors to promote drying include; warm air, low relative humidity, good airflow, exposure to light, use of driers like “Cranfield’s Printmakers Wax Drier”, and use of non-acidic papers. Other factors such as the thickness of ink, sizing of the paper, absorbency of the paper, recycled content will also influence drying.

My block areas of colour are printing patchy. How do I improve the transfer of my relief inks?

The many different papers used by printmakers means there is variation in how well an ink transfers. An unsized absorbent paper will usually take the ink very well, but sized and glossier papers can often result in ink preferring to remain on the block/lino/plate.  To help with the transfer reduce the tack by adding a little low viscosity linseed oil (Safe Wash oil for Safe Wash ranges) or Cranfield’s Wiping Compound and Tack Reducer.

Are your inks suitable for printing on textiles/fabric?

Our printmaking inks are not specifically designed for printing on fabric, however; some printmakers have experimented with our Caligo Safe Wash Relief and Traditional Relief inks and are happy with the results.

The fabric should be washed first to remove any starches or treatments that may be present, and to resolve any dimensional instability in the material. When washing use a maximum 40DegC.

As these inks are not “heat set” like dedicated fabric inks often are, there’s no fast way to ready the inks for washing.  The inks can benefit from warmer temperatures, low humidity and plenty of air flow.

The biggest advice is to experiment and test first to see what works with your particular fabric and print designs.

For more information download our Caligo Relief fabric printing guide.

fabric printing guide

Are Cranfield inks suitable for vegans?

Here at Cranfield we do not carry out any animal testing on products nor do we require it from any of our raw material suppliers. We spend time auditing our supply chain to ensure this remains the case. Generally our raw material portfolio is either derived from vegetable or mineral sources or is synthetically produced.

The exception to this rule are:

The historic formulation BK1824. As the name suggests, Traditional Etching Bone Black contains pigment derived from animal bone.

The metallic colour Gold, Silver & Copper of the Traditional ranges which contain <1% tallow.

As a first time user how do I use Caligo Safe Wash Relief inks?

Please refer to our Caligo Safe Wash Relief inks guide here >


What does a paint ‘series number’ signify?

The series numbers do not refer to the quality, but the costs of the pigment. Rather than having 49 different prices within a range, the colours are grouped into five or six price groups or series. High Series numbers do not always mean an obviously ‘better’ paint. Sometimes there is a clear link between pigment price and measurable quality attributes such as light fastness, but sometimes the price simply reflects political unrest in the area where it is produced, raw material shortages or the fact that the pigment is only made in small quantities.

Why is it good to use paints with only one or two pigments (where possible)?

The reason why single (or two colourants) are better than mixes of three, four or five pigments is purity. You will recall from school days that when you add several powder paints together…. you end up with brown! In a similar manner, if you mix two paints that each contain three pigments, you have six pigments in the mix before you have even put brush to canvas. Even if the colour is accurate enough, it will lack vibrancy and will appear grubby.

What is the difference between Spectragel, Spectraflow & Alkaflow?

All these mediums will increase translucency and speed up drying.  Spectragel products will retain plenty of structure when mixed with paint whilst brushstrokes and body will remain the same. Matt Spectragel will reduce gloss where the standard version will maintain or increase gloss.

Spectraflow and Alkaflow will both increase the flow of paint, reducing brushstrokes. Spectraflow will offer a softer, silky gloss, whereas Alkaflow will provide a high gloss.

Body / viscosity

Gloss level

Matt Spectragel








Silk/soft gloss