This article lists necessary printmaking supplies and tools, and sources. There are many types of printmaking processes. Here I discuss only items needed for more commonly-used relief, monoprint, and some intaglio printmaking processes. You will need an intaglio press to print intaglio prints. Also, it is easier to print most relief and monotype prints with an intaglio press.
Ink and Ink Modifiers:
“Akua Intaglio Print-Making Ink” (not Akua Liquid Pigment Ink) is recommended because it is non-toxic and cleans with water. Also, it comes off the plate better when printing. You can inquire about other inks with the suppliers listed in this article. There are many Akua brand modifiers that can enhance printing ink. See the following link for Akua Ink Tips and Tricks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHr5wiXJ9-4
Depending on the type of printmaking and your desired effect, you will need either 100 % rag paper—can be used for all printmaking processes listed, or washi paper made for instance from either gampi or kozo (mulberry).
Brayer/roller for inking. Metal spatula (with straight edge) to mix and spread ink.
A thick (1/4 inch) shatter-proof/tempered glass with sanded edges. A smooth glass, cutting board of sufficient size will work.
Cotton rags and soft paper towels. Phone book pages (paper that is not too absorbent or expensive); and tarlatan to wipe dry point and engraving plates before printing. Calcium carbonate (aka whiting) used in etching primarily for hand wiping plates. You can test Akua wiping fabric to determine if it meets your wiping needs.
Large tray or bathtub to soak paper (if soaking is required), and cotton towel to remove excess water. Large plastic bag to store damp paper. For clean-up you will need cotton rags or soft paper towels (lint-free), mineral (baby) oil, and dishwashing liquid.
For relief and monotype prints, you can print by hand using a baren, back of large wooden spoon, or specialized metal rolling pin (supplier Akua). However, it is easier to print with an intaglio press. You must use an intaglio press to print intaglio plates. These are sometimes available for rent and use at art centers, and at colleges for students. Small presses can be purchased online for around $1,000 depending on the quality.
Additional Supplies/Tools by Printmaking Method
Drypoint Print or Engraved Prints:
Copper, Polycarbonate sheet, or “Resingrave” plate. Scraping tool for drypoint (carbon tip scriber) or graver for engraving.
Relief or Monotype Prints:
Wood, plastic, or linoleum plate. Wood type depends on your budget and desired effect…an old piece of fence will do, many printers use a quality plywood, or you may want cherry wood panel for fine lines. For plastic plates, PVC Foam Board 1/8 inch thick, is inexpensive, and okay for a beginner…although you will need to figure out how to hold your tool to keep it from slipping and not cut lines too close. PVC foam board can be cut to size with a utility knife or cut by the supplier. Linoleum is the most typical material to carve for beginners. Monotypes can be printed from almost anything that is flat, non-absorbent and will not crack under pressure. You will need either linoleum or wood cutting carving tools. When carving, place a non-skid plastic sheet under the plate.
Most supplies/tools mentioned in this article are available online at: McClains Printmaking Supplies, Graphic Chemical and Ink Co., Renaissance Graphic Arts, Amazon, and other major art supply outlets. These are also good places to purchase instructional books and videos. Also, TAP Plastics can meet your plastic needs and they have an online store. Contact a local glass company to purchase tempered glass at least one inch larger all around than your largest printing plate.
IMPORTANT! Always discard oiled rags outside and dispose of properly.