Not all inks work well for the very fine lines and dots that form a scrimshaw design. Some inks will stain and don’t wipe clean. The best inks for scrimshaw need to be lightfast, water based, transparent and have the most finely ground pigment. Over my 30 years of experience cutting scrimshaw I have tried almost all the available inks – the inks listed below are the best.
The Trial Size student India ink is a professional black ink and one of the best ones for starting out. It is waterproof and cleans up easily. It won’t leave a residue or stain behind yet will still give you a consistent dark black. This is high quality ink, perfect for scrimshaw work. This 1/5 oz. trial size is also included in the kits and is what I recommend that all my students start with for quality results.
Higgins black ink is economically priced in a 1 oz. bottle and is a good all around ink for scrimshaw. If the color is not as dark as needed, I recommend you leave the lid off for a few days to reduce the liquid and deepen the black color.
Dr. Ph. Martins Hydrus black ink in a 1 oz. bottle is a deep, dark, and intense black ink that I prefer, however it is not as easy to use as the other inks I offer so is not recommended for beginners. This professional quality ink has great permanency. The pigment is super fine and fills in even the smallest dot. It will not stain or leave behind a ‘ghost’ of shadows like some inks. It is Lightfast Archival, Non-Toxic, and considered a Brilliant concentrate.