RedLine Milwaukee is proud to house Milwaukee’s only “green” community printshop. In honor of Earth Day we will outline what it means to be a green printmaker!
Printmaking is traditionally one of the harshest art making practices when is comes to human health and environmental health. Historically, harsh solvents and chemicals were needed to clean up oil-based inks and grounds and the acids used for etching released caustic fumes. Although it is difficult to be 100% non-toxic in printmaking, here are a few simple things that RedLine does to create a greener printshop:
1)Solvent-free clean-up. This is HUGE for keeping the air clean in the printshop. Vegetable oil is used to break down oil-based ink, and then cleaned up with Simple Green, a safe cleaner that breaks down oil.
2)Soy Although we use a solvent-based hard ground for etching, Soy-based solvents are used to remove the hardground after etching to reduce to release of solvents into the air.
3)Water soluble ink. Since the 1990’s printshop suppliers have made a variety of water-soluble inks that are comparable to oil-based mediums. These are great alternatives to experiment with. No worries, we still offer oil based mediums for all you traditionalists! Our screen printing inks have and always will be water-based.
4)Recycled materials. Did you know that the printshop is always accepting donations of old clothing for rags? We also use recycled newsprint and phonebook pages in the shop.
5)Ferric Chloride. RedLine uses ferric chloride for etching copper plates. Ferric chloride is not actually, an acid, but a caustic salt. Like any etchant is should be handled with respect but it does not produce the same hazardous fumes as nitric or Dutch mordant acids used traditionally when etching plates.