Tricks of the Trade

Build Your Own

Magical Secrets Books

What are magical secrets? They are ways of setting yourself up for thinking creatively, for a sudden understanding, something like a miracle.

In 2006, Crown Point Press founder Kathan Brown wrote Magical Secrets about Thinking Creatively: The Art of Etching and Truth of Life. In this now-out-of-print book, she shares magical secrets learned from helping artists make etchings in the Crown Point studio.

Three other books followed, each written by a Crown Point Master Printer: Magical Secrets about Line Etching & Engraving: The Step-by-Step Art of Incised Lines by Catherine Brooks (book out-of-print; available as an e-book only); Magical Secrets about Aquatint: Spit Bite, Sugar Lift, & Other Etched Tones Step-by-Step by Emily York; and Magical Secrets about Chine Collé: Pasting, Printing, Mounting & Leafing Step-by-Step by Brian Shure. Each of these teach specific intaglio techniques with step-by-step illustrations and an accompanying DVD. Crown Point Press prints are used as examples of techniques.

You can purchase the Magical Secrets book series in our bookstore in San Francisco or online.

Live Action

  • Watch, Learn, Do
  • Learn by watching these short videos. To expand your skill set, check out our Magical Secrets book series below.

Crown Point Press: Printing Demonstration (4 minutes)

Crown Point Press’ founding director and master printer Kathan Brown prints a Wayne Thiebaud soft ground plate in real time.


Drypoint Technique (3 minutes)

In this short video, former Crown Point master printer Catherine Brooks demonstrates the drypoint process and shows artists using it.


The Carefree Things: Charline von Heyl in the Crown Point studio (20 minutes)

In this video shot by Kathan Brown, you can learn about the different intaglio processes artist Charline von Heyl uses during 2014 print project at Crown Point Press.


We do our best to keep up with the best vendors and suppliers though sometimes things change.

Asphaltum, burnt plate oil, gum arabic, liquid hard ground, whiting, lump rosin and the two kinds of blankets we use (1/16th fine woven sizing catcher; 1/12th extra fine woven)
Graphic Chemical
(630) 832-6004

Charbonnel Ink
MacPherson Art
(415) 884-8090

Low-carbon iron for steel-facing
We use #8928 K49, Grey Cast Iron Plate 10 inches x 2 feet by ¼ inch
(562) 692-5911
(562) 641-2800

Pigments/Gold Leafing
Douglas and Sturgess
(888) 278-7883
(510) 235-8411

Silk for chine collé
Sized-silk for gongbi painting
Blue Heron Arts

Upsonite board (for your dryer)
Niagara Fiberboard, Inc.
(716) 434-8881

Wheat Starch Powder/Gampi paper
The type of wheat starch powder we use is called jin shofu
Crown Point’s favorite gampi paper is MM18 natural; MM19 white
Brushes and sprayers
Hiromi Paper
(310) 998-0098

Brasso, acetone, paint thinner, etc. can be bought at your local hardware store. You can also visit our online store to purchase other printmaking supplies, tools, and books.

Charbonnel Hard and Soft Grounds are available in the U.S. through MacPherson Art though they are hard to get. Check out other options at Graphic Chemical.

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