FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do I need previous etching experience to take the workshop?
You do not need any etching experience in order to take our workshops. They are, however, an immersive studio experience that can be physically demanding. Under the guidance of our printers you will be responsible for creating, etching, inking and printing your plates. If you are unfamiliar with etching we recommend that you do some research in advance of signing up to make sure that the workshop is a good fit for you. Our Magical Secrets website is an excellent resource, with descriptions of the intaglio processes. Also, you can purchase any one of the three Magical Secrets printmaking books we have published. They are available in our gallery bookstore or through our online store.
I’m a very experienced etcher. Is the workshop suitable for me?
Yes. We organize the workshop around the concept of working at your own pace, with individualized instruction from our master printers, so there is no skill level too advanced. You will be able to use all the intaglio processes and explore projects and skills with our printers’ guidance.
Can I make a photogravure or photoetching in the workshop?
We do not offer photogravure or photoetching during the workshops, and there is no other process we offer during the workshops that could etch a photographic (digital or film) image onto a plate.
What sort of materials are used in the studio, and are you a non-toxic studio?
We are not a non-toxic studio, but we take care to minimize risk and exposure. Everyone must follow rules and regulations for safety. We etch our plates with acid (Dutch mordant for our baths, and nitric acid for the spit bite process), and we use traditional intaglio grounds and resists. We have a sophisticated ventilation system in the acid room and at the spit bite table, as well as at the plate-cleaning stations where we use paint thinner and acetone. We have dust masks to use when you are in the aquatint room (we use traditional pine rosin for our aquatint.) Our etching ink is oil-based and we use a barrier hand cream. We teach the intaglio processes in the ways that we use them ourselves.
Can I bring my own materials to use? Is there a size limit for my plates?
We etch on 18 gauge pre-polished copper plates. We recommend that you use the copper we have here rather than bringing your own because our presses are adjusted for the 18 gauge copper we use. The paper on hand in the studio is 100% cotton rag printmaking paper, and we offer a range of sizes but if you wish, you may bring your own. The maximum plate size is approximately 22 x 36 inches.
Will I be able to come away with a printed edition? How many prints do participants usually make? We suggest you come to the workshop with reasonable expectations. What you can create is dependent on your skill level, how you work, and the scale in which you are working. Everyone comes to our workshop with different goals. Some want to make a single plate and print a small edition. Others choose to make several plates, make a few prints and do the editioning elsewhere. We strive to support the goals of each participant. Our class size is 11 students to 3 master printers; this allows for a great deal of individualized attention.
Do you have hotel recommendations? In what area of the city are you located?
Crown Point Press is located in the South of Market area. We are across the street from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and around the corner from the Moscone Convention Center. There are a number of hotels nearby including the Clancy, the W Hotel, the St. Regis, the Palace, and the Intercontinental. We are within walking distance of Union Square. The Montgomery BART and MUNI station is a few blocks away from the Press as is the the TransBay bus depot. We are within walking distance of the Embarcadero and its ferries. As in any large city, there are neighborhoods that are more or less desirable; if you have a question about a neighborhood, feel free to ask us about it.