Recipe: Natural Intaglio Printmaking Ink

Recipe: Natural Intaglio Printmaking Ink

Make Your Own Natural, Oil-based Intaglio Ink with Printmaker, Vanessa Jo Bahr!

With just 2 simple ingredients you can make a professional quality, archival, UV resistant intaglio ink!



  • Intaglio Plate (copper or plexiglass)
  • Glass Palette
  • Muller
  • Ink Knife
  • Inking Chips
  • Tarlatan / Newsprint
  • Printmaking Paper
  • Etching Press

Step 1: Scoop out 1 part earth pigment (e.g. 1 tsp.) into a mound and press down to make an indentation.

Step 2: Add 1 part (e.g. 1 tsp.) #2 burnt plate oil to the pigment.

Step 3: Using an ink knife, mix the oil and pigment together until evenly distributed. You will know it is thoroughly mixed when you achieve a shiny ink without any loose powdered pigment.


Step 4: Using a muller, continue to work your ink mixture. The purpose of mulling is to evenly distribute the oil binder among the pigment particles. It is not meant to grind the pigments; therefore, you don’t need to use too much pressure.


Step 5: The more time you spend mulling, the better your ink will be. At least 3 rounds of scraping the ink off the muller and re-mulling is best. The more ink you are mixing the longer you will want to mull. This ink was mulled for about 5 minutes in total.

Step 6: Ink up your intaglio plate (copper or plexiglass) using inking chips.


Step 7: Wipe your plate using tarlatan or newsprint.

Step 8: Place your inked plate on the press bed and lay your soaked printmaking paper on top. Run them through the etching press and pull your print!


Step 9: Clean Up: Use Eco-Solve (a plant-based and non-toxic solvent) to clean plates, glass surface, muller and ink knife. Use Pinerite (plant-based hand cleaner) to clean ink off hands and skin.


Find more of Vanessa's beautiful work using natural materials at....

Instagram: @VanessaJoBahr

Website: Scavenger Studios:

What is "Burnt Plate Oil"? Burnt plate oil is linseed oil (aka flaxseed oil) which has been heated until it has become thick and viscous. The higher the number, the thicker the plate oil. We don't carry it but it's available online.

Another Recipe: Several artists have told us another recipe for intaglio ink that involves mixing gin and pigment into a paste and then adding in stand oil. We'll be trying this out soon so stay tuned!