Art Department


Safety Guidelines: Printmaking

Handling and Storage of Inks, Solvents And Oil-Based Drawing Materials

  1. All caps and lids shall be placed on inks after use.
  2. Inks shall be cleaned from palette knives and ink slabs with razor blade scrapers and deposited in the "fire safe" disposal cans. When the cans are full, notify the department's health and safety person or your graduate assistant. The Office of Safety will collect the contents for proper disposal.
  3. Oil based ink residue shall be removed from palette knives and ink slabs with paper towels and the solvent Varsol. The use of gloves is recommended to protect your skin from this solvent: nitrile rubber gloves work well. Varsol is stored in three one quart red safety containers located by the lithography press area and on the shelves to the left of the double sink.
  4. Solvent soaked paper towels shall be placed in the fire-safe safe containers described above.
  5. Water-based ink and drawing tools and materials shall be cleaned with soapy water. See Painting Policy. Paper towels saturated with these materials shall also be placed in the safety containers described above.

Proper Use of Acids

  1. Nitric, phosphoric and acetic acids are used in the lithographic printmaking process. See "Hazardous Materials Orientation" and from a campus computer, access the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for the chemicals we use: These acids must be handled with caution and a great deal of care. All three of these acids are stored on the shelf to the left of the double sink. Nitric and phosphoric acids are marked in designated acid dropper bottles. A one-gallon acetic acid solution is mixed in a diluted concentration (14 parts water to one part acetic acid) and is located on the top shelf to the left of the double sink.
  2. Proper eyewear shall be used at all times when handling acids. Safety goggles are located on the shelf to the left of the double sink. Wearing gloves and an apron are also recommended.
  3. Always work over the sink, with the water running, while mixing acid solutions. Cold running water draws acid vapors down the drain.
  4. Add the appropriate number of drops of acid to one ounce of gum Arabic poured into a one-ounce plastic container. Never drop acid into an empty container! Make sure the one-ounce container includes one ounce of gum Arabic.
  5. If acid comes in contact with your skin, flush with water for five minutes. Seek medical attention if necessary. See "Hazardous Materials Orientation." If acid splashes into your eyes, go to the eyewash area in the etching studio and wash your eyes for 15 minutes. Seek medical attention.

Handling Lithography Stones

Use the lift truck in the print studio to transport stones weighing 25 pounds or more, following the demonstrated instructions for using the truck. OSHA requires users of "Powered Industrial Trucks" to be trained and certified. Stones weighing less than 25 pounds shall be carried with two hands: brace the stone against your thighs to provide support. Your hands must be dry before lifting a stone-stones are slippery when wet.

Material Safety Data Sheets

A notebook containing these MSDS sheets is located on the top shelf to the left of the double sink in the lithography studio. Also, go online from a campus computer. Familiarize yourself with MSDS contents: there is health and safety information about the materials used in the lithography studio. Each sheet includes an emergency telephone number for the manufacturer of the material.

In Case of a Medical Emergency:

Call the Campus Police from the telephone in Room 138: 334-4444 (4-4444). Follow their instructions. See "Hazardous Materials Orientation." See the UNCG Health and Safety Manual online from a campus computer, at:

For further reference, see: and

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