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Stone Lithography – Experiments with transfer paper.

It was the 4th week on my internship at Leicester Print Workshop this week, and I learned how to transfer a drawn image to a litho stone using transfer paper. I’ll attempt to show the step-by-step process…

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Transfer paper is made by painting a 50/50 solution of gum arabic and water onto paper, leaving to dry, and applying another layer if necessary. The paper is then drawn onto with litho pencils, crayons, rubbing block, etc.

The drawing on transfer paper is taped to the stone using gum strip. Depending on how thin the paper is it may be necessary to run through the press a few times at this stage to flatten the paper, (ensuring a protective piece of polythene is laid between the stone and paper so that the drawing is not transferred yet).

The drawing on transfer paper is taped to the stone using gum strip. Depending on how thin the paper is it may be necessary to run through the press a few times at this stage to flatten the paper, (ensuring a protective piece of polythene is laid between the stone and paper so that the drawing is not transferred yet).

The stone is dampened with a clean sponge, the image laid onto the stone and run through the printing press 3-4 times at a pressure slightly lighter than normal printing pressure.

The stone is dampened with a clean sponge, the image laid onto the stone and run through the printing press 3-4 times at a pressure slightly lighter than normal printing pressure.

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The paper is dampened on top quickly and gently, before running through the press a further 3-4 times. This process is repeated until the gum on the underside of the paper is wet and fluid enough to transfer from the paper to the stone, along with the greasy drawing. A corner is lifted up to check, and when the image is successfully transferred, the paper is lifted up to reveal the drawn image on the stone.

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At this stage the drawing is much more fragile than if the drawing was made directly on the stone, so heat is applied the encourage the grease to absorb into the stone.

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A second drawing transferred to the stone.

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Detail of the stone. This drawing was made on transfer paper using a hard litho pencil.

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A final third drawing is added to the stone. The stone is then gummed and processed. This will be my next step – I’m looking forward to seeing the results!


Colour.

I rarely use colour in my work at the moment, and when I do I use it cautiously. I think I get a bit overwhelmed by the connotations behind using a particular colour, or using one colour against another. However I’d like to try to overcome this, and have recently been noticing colour combinations which occur in my everyday surroundings. So this week I decided to go out for walk and photograph a few. I seem to always be drawn towards muted hues, rather than bright, bold colours, particularly peeling paint – when one colour reveals another underneath, hinting at the history of the object. I’m going to try to use some of these colour combinations as inspiration for some new prints this year.

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