Saturday, 13 August 2016

LPW Lithography Summer school

I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately - largely because I have spent the past few months editioning a few of my stones and then graining them to remove the images - so not that much new to report!
During the last week of July Leicester Print Workshop was closed to members as it was running a Summer School offering 3 different print courses in letterpress (run by Sat Kalsi), etching (run by Sue Baker Kenton) and stone lithography run by Serena Smith.
The courses ran from Monday to Friday giving an opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in a printing technique in small groups of 6. I shadowed the stone lithography course and thought Id share with you some of the things the group got up to and the work they produced.
Out of the 6 participants, 5 had had some experience of lithography before (indeed one of the group had even brought one of the stones he had prepared earlier to process!). Several of the group were already members of LPW and most were local to Leicester however, one lady had travelled from as far away as Suffolk to attend.
The first day was spent with Serena explaining the lithography process and demonstrating different mark making materials - dry tusches (rubbing blocks, litho crayons etc) and  then liquid tusches, litho inks and soap solutions. Processing of the stone and first etches were shown and the group were then given several test stones to experiment mark making with. 

Trying out Korns' and Stones' liquid tusches on test stone


Serena first etching test stone

Here are some of the group working on their test stones

and some close ups of the marks made:

The next days were spent further processing the test stones - second etching and proofing 

Serena rolling up test stone with Noir a Monter ink to process it

 here are some of the prints produced from their test stones

In between leaving stones to rest and proofing partcipants were also shown the graining technique (to remove the image when further prints are no longer required in order to re-use the stone again)

The wonderful Elspeth who spent many extra hours graining stones!

After processing their test stones the group were given a larger stone in order to put into practice the mark making experience gained - Here are some of their results!

All in all I think everyone had a really good week - there was a lot of information to impart and absorb in a short space of time but the whole group produced some amazing prints and I think many of them really had their appetite whetted to explore this wonderful process further. (Indeed all the members of the group who were LPW members have returned to continue working with their stones since the course finished!) On a personal note I really enjoyed the week - it refreshed my knowledge and has inspired me to use different materials in my own practice.

Monday, 2 May 2016

2nd May 2016 - One Year Of Litho

Over a whole year has passed since Nina and I started our Lithography Fellowship  (and as usual I am behind in updating my blog!). Like Nina ( I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at what we have done and achieved. It has not always been an easy journey, the process is complex and sometimes physically exhausting and there have been many frustrations and tribulations along the way. However I have found it to be the most wonderful medium to work with and it produces marks of a quality that I have not encountered in any other print technique. There is also great sense of connectivity due to the physicalty of the process which I love. Nina and I work very differently, I tend to spend a lot of time on each individual stone (maybe its so I dont have to grain as many!?) which means that I havent probably experimented as much as perhaps I could have. As such over the remaining year I am hoping to play around a little more with tusche washes, transfer paper and also monoprinting as a means of mark making directly on to the stone.
Looking back over the year I have processed 11 stones and 3 photolithograph plates and have experimented with transferring rubbings, used masking tapes and added colour using monoprints, stencils, photolithoplates, watercolour, aerosol spray paints, collage and chine colle. I have also explored working on different scales with 4 of the stones that I have processed being quite small (less than 20cm  square - actually not traditional litho stones but the stones that we use to grain /physically remove the image from the larger stones when we no longer want to use the image). This has posed a challenge both in executing the drawing (I find it much easier to work on a larger scale due to the coarseness of some of the drawing materials used) and also printing the smaller stones. Lately I have tried registering two stones together with different tonal values to give a more complex image.

My huge thanks to LPW for providing this opportunity, ACE and of course to Serena for her endless patience and for sharing her vast knowledge!

Here are a few of the stones /prints produced over the year in date order - all the work relates to my continued work of Park Hill in Sheffield, the Brutalist Grade II* listed council estate

Very first stone experimenting with mark making, dry and liquid tusches and frottage

                       Second stone experimenting with marks drawn or rubbed on to transfer paper

        Next stone experimenting with dry and liquid tusches and also micro masking tapes

                                Print of above stone experimenting with colour using stencils

                             First  mini stone using masking tapes (not a huge successs!!)
                                     Second  mini stone using masking tapes (Bit better)

Next large stone - experimenting more with tapes/rubbings /splattering / different dry and liquid drawing materials

                                                Experimenting with chine colle

                                                               3rd mini stone


                                       New stone to produce two stone lithograph print

2nd stone for two stone lithograph print which when registered with the stone above gave the print below

                                          Colour added using multiple monoprints (below)

6th. 13th, 14th April - Experiments with colour on 2 stone lithograph

Added colour onto editions of 2 stone print below

Using multiple pieces of cut varnished card as per blog 27th March I experimented with colour -monoprinting 13 different colours using lots of extender mixed into the ink to give the appearance of a glaze or watercolour wash.

These photos show the inked pieces of card placed face down on the print, the whole lot was then run through an etching press to transfer the coloured ink. The different areas of colour were added in stages requiring multiple runs through the press.
I experimented with lots of colour combinations but in the end preferred the variation shown below. I printed 4 of these but made careful notes and swatches of the colours used so that I could try to replicateit again.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

31/3/16 and 1/4/16 - Pin Registration

This week I have gone back to working on my 2 stone lithograph.

I had previously had problems registering the 2 stones accurately. Serena suggested that I print the first stone with damp paper and the second stone with dry. I had been reading about pinhole registration techniques and wondered if this might offer a solution to my registration issues! So using an etching needle two points were chosen on the second stone to make two pinholes. Cadfoil with the image of the first stone drawn onto it was placed on the second stone and the 2 pinholes that had been scratched onto the stone were located. The holes from the stone were transferred onto the cadfoil and then the cadfoil was transferred to a print from the first stone. Two darning needles were inserted into 2 corks and the holes from the cadfoil were transferred onto the first print using these needles. The second stone was inked up using litho ink and NAM in a 50:50 mix and applied to the stone using a glazed roller.
A covering sheet of newsprint was placed over the inked stone initially and then the corked needles were placed in each of the 2 holes of the print  of the first stone and the print was localised on the second stone - (as the print was quite big it was a two man job!) Once the print was in the correct position the newsprint was removed and a proof taken.

Needle in corks positioned through print of first stone on to holes on second 

On the whole this pin hole registration technique worked pretty well and certainly much better than previous attempts!

The two registered stones on one print

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Blog 17/3/16
Because of the registration problems I have been having Serena suggested printing the PH stone dry on Arches 88 - 2 proofs taken of the first park hill stone. Print a little pale but not too bad.To try and register the second stone on top of these next week once ink has dried.

Serena had suggested that it might be easier to print with smaller pieces of paper and then rather than use external registration marks to make a T mark scored into the stone on the leading edge. 5 proofs were taken on minimally misted Fabriano rosepina paper using this method. They were printing up quite dark though in the foreground and future ones could benefit from some selective etching !

I was wanting to add colour to the prints and so Serena suggested trying monoprinting by making stencils using Heritage white cartridge paper painted on both sides with B and Q clear water based varnish.Once dried the paper was cut into appropriate shapes taking tracings from the stone to use as individual blocks of colour by momoprinting them on to one of the prints.

                       13 areas of colour were cut from the card to make individual stencils


Showed Serena prints from yesterday - the ones on Arches 88 (dry) had come out better than she thought they woulld - printing on this paper might be a possible solution to the registration problems I had previously had.

The prints taken on Fabriano were getting very dark in foreground and the stone needed etching back,
Serena gave me some literature to read on paper wetness - it is important to have the paper not too damp - (more dry than wet) and it should be evenly dampened - I have been trying to evenly dampen the paper using a garden mister and placing it in between cad foil under heavy boards. Serena said it is also possible to create a special damp box - but she doesn't tend to do do. Serena also suggested running the paper through the etching press after printing (which I forgot to do last time)
The stone was selectively etched where it was getting dark - (largely in the watery tusche areas.)
The stone was washed out and a thin layer of NAM rolled on it. French chalk was brushed on the stone evenly before applying the gum etch. Because the work is quite delicate she urged me to have a more cautious approach and use a weaker etch for longer rather than the other way round. A medium / strong gum etch was used (one that fizzed after 5s) in the fore ground - keeping it moving all the time and re applying frequently- avoiding pooling of the acid which may cause areas of streakiness. Neighbouring areas that didn't need etching were protected with gum Arabic before the acidic gum was placed.
The rest of the stone was then coveted with gum Arabic and dried .

A second etch was placed on the small stone (med strong as before) in the really dark areas, home made GA solution on the specked areas that were more delicate and Atzol on the rest of the stone. The stone was left for 2-3 hours before proofing.
6 proofs were taken on newsprint - then 2 on Somerset satin. I used a combination of 50% NAM :50% crayon black ink and a glazed roller. Again the stone was becoming quite dark and filling in in areas that I didn't want it to so Serena suggested I stopped printing and re etched it back again. The crayon black/ NAM combo ink was washed out and a very thin layer of NAM was rolled on. The stone was French chalked and then etched for a third time. As before med strong etch was placed in the really dark areas - the delicate speckled areas were treated with fresh GA solution and the rest was treated with Atzol. It was then left to rest until next week.

22nd March 2016

I had put a water colour wash on one of the first prints from the mini stone last week and was keen to try to print an edition to enter in the mini print competition.

Proofed 10 prints of mini stone on newsprint using a 50:50 combination of Nam and crayon black
However not printing great - asked Serena how to improve things ! She felt the ink was too stiff and suggested adding more NAM to make it softer.
She also suggested that the scraper bar was too large and that the pressure might be more evenly distributed if the edges of the stone were filed (Serena was also worried that the rough edges might damage the scraper bar )
The smaller scraper bar didn't really fit the press I was using but Serena managed to wedge it in place satisfactorily using some offcuts of mount board to fill the gaps!

Changing the scraper bar and the viscosity of the ink yielded some improvement but the prints still weren't great!
Serena felt that the pressure might be more evenly distributed if the edges of the stone were filed so recommended I try that next!
She also suggested that this would be a good point to add any fine lines to the image .   
The stone was washed out, rolled with a thin layer of NAM ink /french chalked and then gummed. Fine lines were scratched with an etching needle.

Some NAM ink and a very small amount of turps were mixed together and the ink rubbed into the lines.

The stone was warmed with a hair dryer and then the excess ink gently dabbed off with gum Arabic and a damp sponge. I had rather overdone the inking and it was tenacious and difficult to remove initially.
The stone was then re gummed and the edges filed. Unfortunately due to the poor quality of the prints today I wasnt able to enter them into the mini print competition as the dead line was today! Ho hum ...!

Blog 25-3

Filed and Gummed edges a bit more- had to leave to rest for 5 hours before printing
Decided to play around with cardboard stencil cut outs I had made last week -
Paper with one of original prints on was  dampened slightly and using translucent white (extender) and etching inks colour was rolled onto the cardboard stencils the stencil placed on the print and run through etching press as a mono print
I learnt :
1. Only put ink on thinly otherwise has a tendency to seep.
Better to print all in one go. Rather than multiples as every time another colour added some of the previous colour is transferred to the covering sheet
Printed 10 colours
Red (although initially a base layer of salmon pink was placed but this was over printed with a deeper red
Grey/ blue mix in foreground
Greeny grey mix for concrete
Orange over grill
Blue on tiles - needed to be quite bright - didn't show at first
Beige / yellow
Pale grey on ceiling - barely discernable
Green /brown grass
Pale green / olive / yellow for wall
Pink / blue on wall
Still could probably do with one more colour
Think the salmon orange colour worked better than the bright red although the latter was truer to the real colour of the estate
Serena suggested over printing different colours on top of each other to see what effects could be achieved

Here are a couple of the prints with colour added

Saturday, 5 March 2016


Started a new small stone -with a view to possibly entering it into the Leicester Print workshop Small Print International . This competition invites entries of prints that have an image area of less than 100cm2 printed on paper less than 500cm2.  (Further details can be found at
I thought I'd have a go at submitting a stone lithograph - (which could be problematic on two counts)
1.  The deadline is in less than 3 weeks time (!)
2. I am used to working on quite a large scale with the stone lithographs and so to work to such a small size will be challenging to say the least - (however after nearly a year of trying to get my head round stone lithography I am used to a challenge...!)

I decided to use one of the small graining stones that we use to clean off the images from the larger stones.
I used litho ink diluted with turps for the dense black areas - rubbing block and litho crayons for the mid tone areas. The speckled areas were created by dusting shavings from a sharpened litho crayon on to the stone then warming the area with a hair dryer and burnishing them with the back of a spoon under newsprint - not sure how they will print!

Here's where Im up to with it so far - (still got some more fine lines and detail to add in yet).

25th/26th February

Took several proofs from the second stone (see below) 

on to the prints from the first stone (see below) that I had made on Fabriano Rosepina paper

The idea being that the resulting print would give a greater depth of tone and different inking methods -that wouldnt have been able to have been achieved by using just one stone

I tried to register the prints from the first stone on the second stone - but frustratingly I hadnt given myself much leeway and they were slightly out ..... - Serena (my tutor) showed a way of making registration more accurate. She turned one of the prints overleaf and placed it on a light box - a vertical line from the print where the mis registration was consistently occurring  was registered in pencil on the back of the print.
On the stone the same vertical line was found on the image and a heavy ruler laid on the inked stone - (newsprint was placed on the stone first so that the print didnt pick up any miscellaneous ink as it was orientated.) The line that had been drawn on the back of the print was placed  so that it was in line with the ruler on the stone - the centre lines were then located on the print and the stone -and the print taken using velvet noir and burnt umber ink - it was still slightly out !! - 
Serena suggested we tried another means of registering - this involved taking the first print and the cad foil that we used for registration and making sure they were lined up - scalpel cuts were made in the print where the centre lines corresponded with the cad foil - The worse areas of mis- registration were in the concrete pillar areas so thin strips of tissue paper were also cut and stuck to the prints before the second print was taken as a mask - this seemed to work well!

Heres one of the more successful prints (I am not going to show some of the others !)

Serena also suggested softly deleting some of the areas that we were having problems with with pumice and wet and dry paper. This was done in the areas of the white columns of the print-(see below) the idea being that I would  to print up again at a later date to see if things improved