HEALTH & SAFETY
We take the safety of course and workshop participants very seriously, so please read through this section carefully. Our aim to make our printmaking activitiies as safe as possible but there are still potential hazards to consider. Please also note the section on liability.
Orientation On arrival, we give you a tour of the ground-floor access facilities which comprises a print workshop/studio and a converted garage. You'll be informed of the location of the first-aid boxes, fire extinguishers and the escape routes to be used in the event of fire or other emegency. We also instruct you in the safe use of mordants, materials and equipment. Please remember, out of consideration for the safety of other course paricipants, that we expect you to act responsibly at all times on the premises.
Reducing hazards in the workplace Out of occupational safety concerns, we've decided to eliminate many of the hazardous practices associated with printmaking altogether from our main working area (the print workshop/studio) and to confine unavoidable, messier jobs to a separate, well-ventilated area (the converted garage).
Minimal use of solvents For many clean up processes, we use vegetable oil to loosen and remove the bulk of ink, grounds or stop-out. This is followed by washing-up liquid and a final wipe with a sparse amount of solvent (away from the main working area). By far the largest reduction in the use of solvents (turpentine etc.) comes with the decision to exclusively work with zinc and copper plates that are pre-covered with a heat-resistant and mordant-proof protective film. This eliminates numerous sessions of painting on and removing solvent-based varnishes on the back of plates.
Aquatint work Aquatinting, using rosin dust is done in the garage and the wearing a mask during this process is mandatory as prolonged exposure to rosin dust and fumes from melting (using the hotplate) is carcinogenic when breathed in.
Use of safer etching mordants We've also decided to restrict our use of etchant to two mordants, copper sulphate and ferric chloride, which are technically salts and not classified as acids. Unlike the traditionally used nitric, sulphuric and hydrochloric acids, these two mordants produce little or no noxious fumes (requiring ventilation) or burn the skin. Despite this, the wearing of gloves and apron when handling ferric chloride, in particular, is recomended as this can stain skin and clothes. Copper sulphate should also be treated with caution as it can irritate the skin as well as being toxic when ingested – therefore we recommend wearing gloves, mask and apron when handling it.
Liability waiver Potential course participants are notified in advance that, despite these precautions, printmaking is still not a 100% safe activity. Acceptance on our courses is conditional on your agreement that the organisers will not be held liable for any adverse health problems arising from participation.
Health considerations We do not recommend taking our courses if you are pregnant, have a heart, lung or skin condition, asthma or other illness or have allergies to solvents, printmaking mordants and materials. If you have health concerns, please consult your doctor before choosing to participate.
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