Musings in lithography: paper lithography

Lithography is in my eyes some kind of chemical, not to say alchemical printing technique. Based on the repulsion of oil and water (look at your vinaigrette ūüôā it is a planographic printmaking technique, opposed to relief and intaglio printmaking. Most common approaches use a stone, an aluminium or zinc metal plate. Modern techniques have as matrix some polymer plate (e.g. pronto plate).

Looking for a simple and low cost procedure to transfer an image to wood or metal plate for further processing I met the paper lithography (aka gum arabic transfer).

As I mentioned in my post “Inspired by Peter Freeth” I tried already once but lost the game because of a lot of crumbling of the wet paper.

Not giving up I gave paper lithography a further try. Modifying somehow my approach.

First I started with a photograph being part of my shadow series which I reproduced on a laser printer.



The decisive step this time was that I fixed this printout with gum arabic on a dibond plate, (processing as one should in paper lithography,) but instead of removing it from the base to fix it onto the press bed I passed  it with the dibond plate under the press. This avoided handling the moist paper matrix which is quite delicate.

On paper the result was more than convincing. No crumbling this time!



More on paper lithography may be found in following references:

or in these videos:



Inspired by Peter Freeth



The result first!

The original photo:



Inspired by an article on Peter Freeth¬†in Anthony Dyson, Printmaker’ Secrets, A&C Black Publishers, London, 2009 (an excerpt from the book over here) I got the idea to start not with a monotype as does Peter Freeth, but to do a litho ¬†first, transfer this to the intaglio plate and from there on follow Peter Freeth.

First step transform the colour photograph to a monochrome picture. This picture was laser printed directly on a polyester litho plate. As the edition would be only one print, I tried first to do a paper lithograph, but without any success (crumbling, crumbling and more crumbling), so I changed to polyester plate.¬†But instead of printing it on paper I printed on the zinc plate chosen for the intaglio. The ink still wet the plate was powdered with rosin in a first step, superfluous rosin removed by gentle tapping the back of the plate and than recovered ¬†by an “even” (as far as it is possible for a hand shaken aquatint) layer of rosin in order to¬†step from a negative print with open bytes to a positive without open byte. Followed by an etching in nitric acid (10%) for 5 minutes. The ink used for printing was 1/2 Charbonnel black 55981 1/2 Chabonnel black RSR and the paper Lanaquarelle Watercolor¬†HP 300g/m2.

A first try with many flaws . To be continued. Lot of experimentation possible.

Summery of the steps:


litho plate (flipped)