Tag Archives: paper lithography

Printmaking 101: Paper Lithography

The following introduction to paper lithography is taken from an article written by Martha Oatway, in our Winter 2012-13 Newsletter just published today!  You can read more about lithography and all other happenings at WPG in the newsletter, at the link above.

"Branches" by Martha Oatway

“Branches” by Martha Oatway

Paper lithography is the process of inking a toner based photo copy (the plate) and printing it onto printmaking paper. I first learned of this process when I took a workshop at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, Connecticut in the late 1990s.

The workshop instructor told us the method was invented for woodcut and linoleum printmakers to transfer their images onto wood and linoleum blocks. At some point a printmaker discovered it to be a method in its own right.

The method is simple but technique driven. A high contrast drawing or  photograph is photocopied onto paper. Alternatively, a hand drawing in grease pencil or oil pastel can be used. The toner, grease pencil or oil pastel is the vehicle for the ink.

Etching or litho ink is modified with plate oil to reduce tack. The paper plate is saturated with a 50/50% ratio of gum Arabic to water to protect the paper fibers. The grease pencil and oil pastel marks or copy toner does not absorb
the gum mixture. The plate is inked with a brayer and wiped with gum mixture repeatedly until the grease or toner image is completely covered. This part is tricky as darker inks can’t be seen as well on the toner. Over working the plate is very easy as the paper fibers wear down and the toner can rip up if the ink is not modified correctly.

The fully inked plate is placed on the print paper and run through the press. The plate is thrown away. Images can be enlarged or reduced according to the need of the printmaker.

There are many advantages to using paper lithography. It can be used as a one-off, in multiple layers to build up imagery or to add an element to another printing technique such as etching, collagraph or drypoint.

Postcards from the UK: Martha’s work from Artlab

Martha Oatway is finishing up her time in the UK and will soon return home to the States.  Be sure to mark your calendars for her tw0-person exhibition with her friend and UK printmaking, Tracey Hill, on view in December.  For now, read on to see how Martha’s art has developed since she’s been across the pond!

Martha pulling a print--the press in this picture is over 100 years old!

My time in the UK is nearly over.  My husband’s job brought us to Preston, UK in July of 2009.  Preston is home to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which has a student body of 32000, making it one of the largest universities in the UK.

My first year here I joined Artlab, a group of artists from diverse backgrounds and interests that meet for 4 hours on Wednesday nights to explore printmaking.  The printmaking studios at UCLan offer a wide range of facilities for etching, lithography, relief and screen printing.

Plates and prints from Martha Oatway

It was through Artlab that I discovered Artists Access to Art Colleges, something unique to the UK.  The AA2A project provides placement for artists in one of 31 institutions, providing 124 placements nationally.  Each university has a different focus, sculpture, painting, etc.

UCLan has four placements in printmaking.  I was accepted for the 2010/2011 year based on my project proposal which was to bring my US eyes to the UK landscape and make prints that express how I respond to it.

"Mapping the UK" by Martha Oatway

I am fascinated by the layers of living here in the UK.  This island has been inhabited by many peoples over the millennia and many of them have left indelible marks on the land.  A contemporary wheat field could also be home to Bronze Age circular burial barrows.  Sheep graze among stone circles.  There are hundreds of abandoned medieval villages which are only visible via aerial archaeology as they are now fields.

My latest prints are collagraphs layered with etching and paper lithography, sometimes incorporating chine colle.  They are abstract maps and aerial views layering different scales of space.

"Aerial View 10" by Martha Oatway

You can see the prints I’ve made so far this year on my AA2A page where you can also vote for me if you wish.  The winning artists from 2011 will be promoted on the AA2A websites, facebook and twitter pages.