Use of the Printmaking area - Printmaking Policy


This resource offers equipment and facilities for lithography, linoprinting, collographic prints and etching. Printmaking at The Art Vault encourages the use of safe and environmentally friendly printmaking materials and work practices. There is a separate ventilated aquatint area and wet area. Work practices include (wherever possible) the use of safe cleaning agents such as vegetable oil and the use of copper sulphate instead of nitric acid on aluminium and zinc etching plates.

The printmaking area operates on a sessional booking system and is available for hire to printmakers and for professional classes for artists and community members. All artists using the printmaking area will be required to sign an agreement form and provide accompanying information proving their capabilities. 


1. to provide local artists, who are geographically isolated, with printmaking facilities generally not available to them on graduation from art school

2. to encourage master printmakers and artists to visit and work in Mildura to enhance and develop local talent

3. to have The Art Vault recognised both nationally and internationally as a facility which produces high quality art prints

4. to enhance public appreciation of the processes of printmaking and printmaking as an art form through education and training possibilities

5. to encourage the local and wider community to understand, value and collect prints

Education programs and workshops

The Art Vault provides quality programs where artists and members of the public have an opportunity to learn more about the art of printmaking. These programs will be offered by master printmakers, artists in residence and local printmakers. The cost will vary according to the expertise provided, length of lessons and equipment used. A maximum class size of 6-8 will apply.  

Open days

On occasion The Art Vault will hold open days and tours of the entire facility including the printmaking area. These tours will introduce students and visitors to both the local and national artists working in their studio spaces, demonstrations of the techniques and equipment used in the printmaking area, and an overview of The Art Vault’s operations and facilities. These will be announced and can operate on a booking basis for groups of 10-15 people.

Printmaking area


Printmaking Studio Floor Plan


Facilities and equipment

Facilities and equipment include:

  • Accommodation and a private studio space for artists in residence
  • Possible access to one of our galleries for the exhibition and sale of artwork
  • A lithography press – Furnival & Co.Ltd.London. Electric drive automatic reverse. Equipped to print both stones and plates (bed size 100 x 143cms)
  • A lithography press – New electric Takach Floor Press from theUnited States(bed size 74 x 132cms)
  • An E34 etching press (bed size 86.5 X 160 cms)
  • An M288 Direct drive etching press on castors (bed size 45 x 90cms)
  • A process room and hotplate for etching
  • A separate aquatint room with aquatint box
  • A range of lithography stones
  • A graining sink and levigator for graining lithography stones
  • Rollers for lithography and etching
  • Large stainless steel sink for soaking paper
  • Drying racks
  • Glass benchtops for inking
  • Wet and dry working areas

Hiring and cost

Hiring of the printmaking area is available to artists who are competent printmakers. The artist must be able to work independently or under minimal supervision. All artists and potential artists will be assessed on their knowledge and command of the print medium. Graduates of printmaking classes held at The Art Vault may also be able to use the printmaking facilities independently after a period of assisted probation.

Fees for hiring the printmaking facility are set to cover the cost of the maintenance of equipment, insurance, lighting and other overheads. The cost is set at $35 per half day session for non Art Vault artists and days are broken up into two half day sessions. Hours are from 9am – 1pm or 1pm – 5pm daily.  If any consumables such as inks, chemicals, tarlatan and cleaning agents are required then an additional, one off fee of $20 will apply on top of the sessional fee.

Paper can be purchased from The Art Vault but this must be arranged prior to your printing session - Large sheets of sommerset paper are $15 and small sheets of sommerset paper $10 per sheet.  An additional fee of $10 will also be charged for the use of up to 20 sheets of butchers and/or tissue paper. A fee of $20 for 21 to 40 sheets of butchers or tissue paper and $50 for 41 to 60 sheets of paper.

Editioning of prints

The printmaking facilities will be made available as a priority for the editioning of prints by an artist. The workshop will be made unavailable to all other users during this time. The usual hiring fees will apply and in addition, the printmaker will be required to donate two sets of signed printmaker’s proofs to the gallery.  


Users of the printmaking area are expected to supply their own plates, paper, hand tools, gloves, grounds, brushes, sponges, ink and newsprint. Unless a fee has been paid or paper has been negotiated, then artists will also need to provide chemicals, tarlatan, rags and cleaning agents.  


Access to the printmaking facilities

Because of safety issues, the printmaking area is off limits to all personnel other than those who have registered to use the area officially.  All people who use the equipment will be required to be orientated on the use of the equipment and the protocol for the room.  The facilities will be available during the day on a booking system.  The arrangement and cost of providing the assistance of a master printmaker is the responsibility of the artist but The Art Vault is able to arrange a technical assistant should you need one

Covered footwear and protective clothing

It is essential to wear covered footwear in the printmaking area. It is recommended that appropriate protective clothing be worn especially when dealing with chemicals. No one is allowed to enter the aquatint area without a mask and protective glasses.

Evacuation procedures

If you are required to evacuate the building do not pack up your belongings, leave immediately. You should follow the closest exit signs in the direction they indicate. These will lead you either to the front footpath or to the back laneway. All people from the building should remain outside, and together as a group, until everyone is accounted for and it has been deemed safe to return to the building. 

First aid

First aid kits are available downstairs in the printmaking and lithography rooms and upstairs in the kitchen area. It is recommended that all artists, but particularly printmakers, enrol in a first aid course. Always wear rubber gloves if assisting with an open wound and follow first aid protocol.  If in doubt ask a staff member (all staff members are first aid qualified)


If someone is/or has been effected by a medical condition that may affect them or others while any of the printmaking areas then they are required to notify management of The Art Vault.

Material Data sheet

All flammable and hazardous materials must be stored in the fire safety cupboard in the room next to the aquatint area.

There are three ways toxic materials can enter the body – by inhalation, by ingestion or through the skin.

  • The use of Rosin is particularly dangerous as the particles cannot be seen as they are inhaled. Rosin can cause serious damage to the lungs and allergies. Rosin dust is also potentially explosive and so must be kept away from flames. It is critical that masks and glasses are worn during use and that the exhaust fan is on. There is danger to anyone else in the room and they must be warned and take necessary precautions as well. Rosin dust must be stored in a sealed spark free container well away from heat sources. Dust from limestone and talc may contain silica, which can cause permanent lung damage.
  • Nitric acid and ferrous chloride are to be avoided in etching. These etching fluids produce toxic fumes. If nitric acid is spilt on the skin then it can cause serious chemical burns. Acids are corrosive to the skin and eyes. Ingestion of a small amount can be fatal. The inhalation of acid vapours can be highly irritating to the respiratory tract. In addition some acids can react with other chemicals to produce toxic gases such as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulphide. Acids must not be stored near solvents.
  • Toxic aerosols such as crystal clear corrode the skin, eyes, teeth and their amalgam fillings, mucous membranes, lungs and may cause impotency. These are never to be used indoors and should be kept away from heat sources. Aerosols are to be used in outdoor well ventilated areas away from other people. The fine particles are easily inhaled and a mask must be worn when using these.
  • Many pigments used in paints are toxic. Pigments dissolved in solvents can be absorbed through the skin, especially if there are cuts. Ingestion can occur accidentally if hands are not cleaned adequately before eating or by putting paintbrushes or fingers in the mouth. The most toxic inorganic pigments are those containing lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, cobalt, manganese, antimony, mercury, molybdenum, and selenium. They can affect the nervous system, the liver, heart and kidneys, and several are suspected of cancer causing carcinogens. Never use these in an unventilated room.
  • All paints, including acrylics, contain pigments and preservatives which may contain formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen. Pre-mixed paints should be used as powdered paints can cause lung damage. Never use food utensils for mixing. After leaving work stations wash hands.
  • Pastels may contain toxic pigments and fine dust which can cause lung damage and have toxic effects
  • Varnishes, lacquers, paint thinners and cleaners contain solvents. These can affect the central nervous system and cause liver and kidney damage. Benzene which is often found in solvents can cause leukaemia. Glycol ethers are reproductive hazards.


No loud music that may affect others is to be played in the printmaking area. It is suggested that earphones be used when possible and mobile phone usage should be kept to a minimum. Consideration should always be given to others working in the area.  

Reporting of incidents

Incident report forms are available from the main office area and must be completed if there is an accident or incident. These are to be signed and returned to the main office for follow up and filing.  

Smoking, drugs and alcohol

The printmaking area is not to be used by anyone under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. No drugs and/or alcohol are to be consumed prior to using printmaking equipment and chemicals. The entire building is a smoke free zone including the undercover car parking area.

Conduct for the use of the printmaking area


  • At the end of the day empty all rubbish in the printmaking bins into the outside bins near the back entrance
  • Make sure that all rags covered with chemicals/inks are placed in the RED chemical bin located outside the back exit door leading to the aquatint area
  • Return all inks, chemicals and solvents to their correct storage areas at the end of the day
  • Clean any work surfaces that you have used including press beds
  • If tarlatan has been used make sure that it has been washed thoroughly and hung up for drying
  • Check the floor for any spills and wipe, sweep or wash as necessary
  • Use paper towel for cleaning up water based messes only
  • Whenever possible use rags until they are fully dirty before placing them in rag bins.
  • Please remove all prints from drying racks within a few days. If left, these may be removed and if they unclaimed they will be discarded
  • No food or drink is to be taken into or consumed in the printmaking area
  • When printing in the main printmaking room, turn on the exhaust fans.  Ask Staff to locate them for you. Turn them off again when leaving
  • Covered footwear and an apron are to be worn when printing and must be provided by the artist
  • Do not cut materials on workbenches without using a cutting mat
  • Only use the glass top benches for inking up. When finished scrape off excess inks with a spatula and remove the remainder with vegetable oil or an environmentally friendly cleaning product


  • Never let the lithography press scraper-bar fall off the stone with the pressure engaged
  • Long hair must be tied back when using the electric lithography press
  • Use great care when moving lithography stones as they are both heavy and fragile. Ask for assistance and always use a trolley when moving stones from one surface to another. Apply the brakes to the trolley when sliding the stone on or off
  • When a stone is still in use tape a piece of newsprint over it with your name and the date
  • Ensure that you grind stones evenly all over to keep the surface true and level
  • Round off the edge of stones with a file to protect rollers and tympans
  • When using acids for lithography always wear gloves. Phosphoric acid is used for aluminium plates and nitric acid for stones. Keep acids in a sealed plastic container
  • Always have an assistant with you when operating the electric lithography press
  • Always select a scraper-bar narrower than the stone or plate but wider than the image. Ensure that the tympan is well lubricated with grease
  • Never use excessive pressure while printing


  • When using ink from a container, scrape ink from the top in a circular manner – never gouge, poke or scoop ink from a can
  • The Art Vault will provide protective gloves, safety glasses and a mask/respirator for ALL artists to use when entering and using the aquatint area.  It is up to the artist to follow safety protocol and wear them at their own choice.  If this does NOT happen, THE ART VAULT WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACCIDENTS.
  • Never place sharp or thick items on the printing press as these can damage the bed, blankets and rollers
  • Make sure that the bed covers are straight so that these materials are not damaged
  • Do not over tighten the rollers as this can damage the rollers and bed
  • Always use protective layers e.g: newsprint between the print and blankets
  • A respirator, hand protection and eye protection should be worn when handling acids, these are provided in the etching area.
  • Always clean up each time you degrease and apply ground to plates. Wear a respirator and gloves if using an ammonium. Replace ammonia with jif whenever possible
  • Use the correct rollers for both hard ground and soft ground. Turn off and clean the hotplate after each use.
  • When packing up etching presses ensure that your hands are clean before touching the blankets. At the end of the day, each press bed should be wound right through to release pressure from the blankets
  • When cleaning rubber rollers and their handles always use white spirits and never methylated spirits. Chalk rollers and return to their stand

Printmaking basic agreement

Regardless of type of artist or past experience, all applicants wishing to work in the printmaking area are expected to understand and adhere to basic rules of working in the area including:

  • A willingness to donate two sets of printmaker’s proofs to the gallery for sale if editioning
  • Ensuring that a booking for the area has been made and that staff are aware of your presence
  • Responsibility for knowing and applying safety guidelines
  • Ability to work responsibly and independently
  • Responsibility for the payment of any damage caused to equipment or facilities or its replacement through misuse
  • Respect for proper use of facilities including taking into consideration your limitations within the spaces
  • Cleanliness and willingness to put equipment away and clean up after use
  • Consideration and respect for other users of the facility
  • Abiding by all the general policies of The Art Vault, including those listed under OH&S
  • Knowing that Art Vault tools, equipment and supplies are strictly never to be removed from the printmaking facilities
  • An understanding that use of the printmaking area will be revoked and forbidden if the basic rules are not adhered to.