Nontoxic Printmaking, Safe Painting & Printed Art

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this page is being developed; individual pages contain much more comprehensive information on the topic


TIP: Using and Purchasing Copper Sulfate

Safe to Use: Use it Safely!

Remember, Copper Sulfate is still a chemical and toxic to humans if ingested, so make sure you follow safety instructions and read MSDS sheets prior to use. Always wear gloves, goggles and a mask when handling any etching chemicals. Do not touch, inhale or ingest.

Safe to Ship!

For the printmaker who wants to use the Saline Sulfate Etch, getting hold of small (rather than industrial) quantities of Copper Sulfate is easy. I recently ordered a 5lb bag of Copper Sulfate Crystals over the internet. Because it is a low hazard material, the delivery came by ordinary mail services - simple, safe and economical too. No need for the specialist carriers required when shipping traditional printmaking mordants

For Copper Sulfate Supplies: Wammock Farm Services Inc.

Click for ingredients/product options for:  


HARD GROUND OPTIONS _______________________________________

Z-Acryl Stop-Out Solution                   may chip if applied too thickly

Z-Acryl Hard Ground
                            easy to strip off using soda ash

Lascaux Hard Resist
KOH-I-NOOR black for a black ground

Graphic Chemical W/B Relief Ink
       works as a hard ground when fully dried
                                                                    easy to draw into

Orono Ground
                                        works as a hard ground when fully dried
easy to draw into

Crisco baking fat or similar
                 cover plate evenly and draw!
                                                                    somewhat messy, but a great ground
                                                                    cleans off with dish soap
                                                                    great and easy resist for re-etching

Vaseline or wax crayons etc
              as above

Lascaux 2060

clear gloss varnish                               dilute with 5% to 10% water
KOH-I-NOOR black to color
                                                                   best acrylic ground for re-etching
                                                                   also works on polished plates

We are still developing this page. There are many more etching ingredients listed on our methods pages, such as:

Hard and Soft Ground      Intaglio Manual   Printmaking Resources

AQUATINT OPTIONS ____________________________________________

      Left: Speedball Screenfiller

      Right: Badger Aquatint Solution

      Images: Polymetaal
      see Suppliers in

Speedball Screenfiller
                         dilute with 20% to 30% water
                                                                   very velvety tones
                                                                   red color

Future or KLEAR                
acrylic floor polish                                add KOH-I-NOOR black and 5% to 10% water
                                                                   black dots = great visibility on all metals
                                                                   easy stripping in soda ash


Badger Aquatint Solution
                   very corrosion resistant
                                                                   requires removal in strong alkaline

Lascaux 2060

clear gloss varnish                               add
KOH-I-NOOR black
                                                                   also works as a hard ground

Golden GAC 200 Medium
                    dilute with 15% to 20% water
KOH-I-NOOR black
                                                                   very corrosion resistant

Z-Acryl Hard Ground
                           can be sprayed as an aquatint

STOP-OUT VARNISH OPTIONS________________________________________

         Left: Z-Acryl Stop-Out Resist
         Right: Z-Acryl Hard Ground Emulsion

Images: Polymetaal
         see Suppliers in

Future or KLEAR

acrylic floor polish                                works best on sanded surfaces
                                                                   de-oxidize plates before reworking

Note on De-Oxidizing (for Brass and Copper only)
Mix 1kg of cooking salt with 1 pint of white vinegar and 1 to 2 liters of water
Use to clean copper after etching the plates and before further resists are applied.
Highly recommended for multiple applications of spray aquatint.

Z-Acryl Hard Ground                            works best on sanded surfaces
                                                                   de-oxidize plates before reworking

Lascaux Hard Resist
                            good for re-etching

Lascaux 2060

clear gloss varnish                               great for re-etching
                                                                   takes a good line

Mix the above with 40% to 60% black acrylic paint for an all round stop-out varnish
that is easier to strip

Any acrylic paint 
                                  OK as an etching resist
                                                                   will eventually come off due to high pigment

Other acrylic binders and mediums
  likely to work as an etching resist but many
                                                                    are too hard to remove
                                                                    and are unsuitable for line work

STRIPPING SOLUTIONS _________________________________________


Orange Zest Solvents                         Acrylic resists strip off easily with the new citrus-based solvents.
                                                                  Z*Acryl  D*Solve is an excellent product.

"This truly revolutionary solvent was formulated as an alternative to petroleum-based turpentines and thinners. It is made from 100% renewable agricultural resources of soy, corn, and citrus, and is non-polluting, non-carcinogenic, and bio-degradable. Less than a teaspoon will thoroughly clean a large plate. DSolve will even strip dried ink from etched lines." Dick Blick


Soda Ash Stripping Bath                   Most acrylic resists strip off easily in a concentrated
                                                                  bath of sodium carbonate.
                                                                  Dissolve 1kg of sodium carbonate powder in
                                                                  3 to 4 liters (1 gallon) of hot water.
                                                                  Leave plates to soak for 10 minutes.

Silkscreen Screen Cleaner                Products based on Sodium Metaperiodate can strip
                                                                  etching acrylics with ease.
                                                                  Scrub plates with domestic scouring powder
                                                                  e.g. Ajax or Comet with HOT WATER.
                                                                  Use a scouring pad to remove any acrylic residues.


Intaglio Manual     Printmaking Resources


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