Lithography can now be done in the high school classroom, even without a press. Using either copies made on a toner based copier, or prints from a toner based laser printer, quite detailed prints can be made on a variety of traditional and non traditional surfaces. <ul><li>Materials List: </li></ul><ul><li>Lithographic Ink </li></ul><ul><li>Plate Oil These four items can be ordered from Graphic Chemical </li></ul><ul><li>Gum Arabic and Ink Company, 728 N. Yale Avenue, Villa Park, IL 60181 </li></ul><ul><li>Pronto Plates or www.graphicchemical.com </li></ul><ul><li>Photocopies or prints made on a toner based printer or copier </li></ul><ul><li>Print paper (or other surface, like wood, metal, foam core, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Water in containers </li></ul><ul><li>Plexiglass sheets for rolling ink and inking plates </li></ul><ul><li>Container to dampen paper before printing </li></ul><ul><li>Sponges </li></ul><ul><li>Soft Brayers </li></ul><ul><li>Ink Knives or putty knives </li></ul><ul><li>Barens, wooden spoons, or agate doorknobs for printing </li></ul><ul><li>Mister to dampen paper </li></ul><ul><li>Aprons/plastic gloves </li></ul><ul><li>Cleaning materials—vegetable oil, mineral spirits, and denatured alcohol </li></ul>
This table is laid out for two students working across from each other.
When printing from a paper print, adhere the photocopy or laser print to the plexiglass sheet with a mixture of gum Arabic and water which is applied to both surfaces with a sponge. The surface of the “plate” is kept very wet with this mixture, sponging between each application of ink.
The ink is rolled out with a soft brayer on one side of the large plexiglass sheet, or on a separate sheet. The litho ink will probably need to be thinned with a little plate oil (linseed oil that has been cooked). The consistency should be rather thin, so that it would flow off the inking knife in a thin line.
The ink is applied to the very wet photocopy by rolling from the center outward. The number of times the brayer will have to be charged and the plate inked depends somewhat on the density of the print and the color of the ink. Sponge off the plate between inkings to remove excess ink and to keep the plate wet.
The print paper should be soaked before using. Dampen both sides in a container of water, drain, then store inside a large plastic bag.
If the paper dries out too much before use, or if one is printing a second time on the same paper, mist the paper lightly before laying on the plate.
When printing on a press, the paper print plate is carefully laid on the press bed. If printing by hand, the plate is placed on a clean, flat surface.
Printing <ul><li>If printing on a press, the paper print plate is wiped off, then carefully lifted off the plexiglass and positioned on the press bed. A piece of pre-soaked paper is laid over it, and then a protective sheet of newsprint. The press blanket is positioned and the bed is rolled through the press. </li></ul><ul><li>If printing by hand, position the plate on a clean flat surface. Gently lower a pre-soaked sheet of print paper over the plate and cover with clean newsprint. Rub the entire surface with the back of a wooden spoon, an agate doorknob, or a baren, like one would when making a wood block print. </li></ul><ul><li>If printing by hand on a surface other than paper, place the plate on top of the surface, ink down, cover with newsprint, and rub. </li></ul><ul><li>Each paper print plate can be used only once, however, several “plates” can be printed on the same surface or sheet of paper. </li></ul>
Both these prints were based on digital photos. The darkest print of the pears was from a print made on a laser printer, the lighter from photocopies.
Rather than use unpleasant chemicals to clean up, vegetable oil can be used to clean ink off most items. If clean up needs to be done more quickly, first mineral spirits can be used to remove ink, then denatured alcohol to remove any residue.
Tips and Hints <ul><li>Though printing from photocopies or laser prints does work, it takes some practice. The paper from which the print is made must be kept much wetter than one would think necessary, otherwise the paper starts to tear or stick to the brayer. </li></ul><ul><li>The toner must be fresh, so the copies or laser prints should be made the same day that they are going to be printed. </li></ul><ul><li>Copies or laser prints that are just black and white, no grays, will print better than ones with gradations. </li></ul><ul><li>Thin lines will print well, if they are black in the original, yielding an almost intaglio look. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple prints can be made on the same surface either by laying several inked sheets side by side and printing all at once, or by making repeated printings. If making successive prints on the same surface, mist between printing, and be aware that some of the ink from the earlier prints may transfer to cover sheets. </li></ul>
Pronto Plates <ul><li>Because printing from a sheet of paper is fairly delicate, the teacher might prefer to print using a polyester sheet such as Pronto Plates (also available on line from Graphic Chemical). The sheets can be purchased in small quantities and can be cut into printer friendly sizes. </li></ul><ul><li>Plates prepared by running them through a copier or printer should be used very soon. Those with drawings made with a Sharpie will last longer. </li></ul><ul><li>Additional lines can be added to the plate with a sharpie </li></ul><ul><li>When preparing the plate for printing, wipe it with a more concentrated solution of Gum Arabic than what would be used on a paper print plate. </li></ul><ul><li>The Pronto plate will not tear when inked and can more easily be wiped with the sponge to remove excess ink. </li></ul><ul><li>Dry the plate between inking and printing with a hair drier. </li></ul><ul><li>The Pronto plate can be reprinted a number of times. </li></ul><ul><li>After the plate has been printed, the artist can add to it using oil paints or colored pencil, and mat and frame the plate. </li></ul>