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Acrylic paint vs acrylic ink


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I'd be grateful for any advice folk might have about the practicality of using acrylic paint instead of acrylic ink to dye rigging. Having read advice on the Forum from Mahuna and others, I decided to experiment with acrylic ink mixed with isopropyl alcohol. This has worked well and, like Mahuna, I've decided to use various combinations of black, brown and raw sienna for the standing and running rigging. Incidentally, I'm using DMC Cordonnet thread spun up on Chuck's Rope Rocket.


My problem is sourcing ink at a reasonable price. I've found economy size bottles of black and brown, but raw sienna ink only seems to be available in small 30 ml/1 fl. oz. bottles. However I've found raw sienna acrylic paint in 150 ml bottles for the same price as the much smaller ink bottle. I've googled the difference between acrylic paint and ink without much success - from what I can gather the ink has finer particles and greater fluidity which makes it a better choice for airbrushing. However other sources say paint can be used to dye fabrics. 


Before I shell out on some paint and test it for myself, does anyone have experience with using it to dye rigging successfully, and are there any specific techniques involved?





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Never heard of Acrylic Ink. But I treat rigging with thinned Acrylic Paint all the time. My technique is to string up long lengths of line from two hooks as far apart as I can manage so I can do long swaths all at once. First I soak the line so it’s saturated with water, this allows the color to penetrate. Then I mix up my color, with a lot of water,  on a palate prior to scooping it up with a palette knife and plopping it on a square of wet rag. This rag I fold in half over the line I’ve strung up and I walk along the line, scrubbing the rag back and forth onto the line, working the color in. When you reach the end of the line, get a fresh rag, this time saturated with only water, and repeat the rubbing process. This second treatment thins the paint you’ve just applied and it is now that you can remove color if to your eye the results are too strong. Rubbing hard enough with the second rag, you can almost reverse the process and get back to a clean line, depending on how hard you squeeze and how much water you use. So in this way you can control the appearance. The line dries quite rapidly so do not pause between steps. Once the acrylic has dried you will never remove it.  With this technique you can make white line solid black,or, you can lightly stain a pristine line to have a color more in keeping with hemp or Manila.

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Well, you partly answered yourself your question: the key point is particle size or rather the absence of particles. For this it is important to recall the difference between the different media:


Paint essentially is a suspension of pigment particles in a solvent and film-formers; the objective is to create a covering layer of paint made up from the pigments and the film-formers; in the case of acrylic paints, the acrylic monomers will also undergo some sort of chemical reaction, by which they cross-link to form a layer into which the pigment particles are embedded.


Dyes are molecules dissolved in a solvent; the dyes either adsorbe to the surface of the material or may undergo also some chemical reaction with the material to be dyed; in consequence, they do not form a continuous layer on the surface of the materials.


Inks can be either paints or dyes; in the former case they are called pigmented inks; acrylic inks fall into this category; like paints they form a more or less continuous layer on the paintes surface albeit their particle size is much smaller than in paints, allowing them to be used with e.g. pens.


Simulating the tarring etc. of ropes presumably can be done with inks, as on the prototype the tar only partially penetrated and part of if acted as a dye and part of it as a paint. Paints on the other hand would stay on the surface and form a layer. I gather paints could be used to simulate the tarring with coal-tar of later periods, but would be less suitable to simulate applications of wood- (Stockholm-)tar.

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