A study of vegetable sourced colourants for use in screen process ink production
The following investigation aims to determine the potential of plant material to produce pigments capable of acting as alternatives to the standard range of process (CMYK) colours used in screen printing. A review of the literature on so-called `natural dyes' reveals the extent of the pre-synthetic (1857) use of a range of dye-plants in the textile and related industries over a period of many centuries. Several plant sources are identified for investigation in the context of this study. Chemical, botanical and historical aspects of these plants are described along with notes on their cultivation and nomenclature. The necessary thickeners and other additives that may be required for the production of a stable ink formulation are also discussed. The establishment of the Cat Hill Ink Garden is described as well as a discussion of other sources of raw material supply. Methods of aqueous extraction, lake production, comparative light fastness and spectral reflectance testing are all described and test results are provided in appendix form. The environmental, economic and health and safety aspects of the new inks is contrasted with the commercial oil-based product as well as a brief discussion of their potential for commercial development. Printed examples by the author and several of his students form the final part of the study and demonstrate the use of both CMYK and other non-primary ink formulations.