First week of Lithography at Leicester Print Workshop

I have just started a Fellowship programme in Lithography printing at Leicester Print Workshop here in England. I have been waiting anxiously for the last few months for it to start and snow I am just thrilled to have finally begun this exciting project! This will be a two year programme of both intense learning as well as self led artistic work so at the end of it I will hopefully be a master lithographer. The print workshop is fantastic and everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming, the place is just buzzing with creative energy with artists working on their different types of prints in every corner. I have a feeling that these are going to be a very good couple of years.

A map of Leicester from 1947 (stolen from the internet).
A map of Leicester from 1947.

With me on the Fellowship is another great artist, Mandy Payne, who is from Sheffield and is a painter and printmaker. Our teacher is the terrific Serena Smith, who is an expert lithographer and a wonderful artist. Check out their websites to get to know their artwork.

This first week started with a bang as me and Mandy drew and printed our very first stones, all in two days! As neither of us have much experience in this technique we started with a test stone to kind of get the feeling of method and to see which mistakes we are likely to do, which I am sure will be many. We started drawing only with litho crayons which are very greasy crayons that get absorbed into the stone. I won’t explain the whole method and technicalities of lithography now but if you are super interested and just can’t wait to find out how it works just check it out here. It has to do with oil and water, gum arabic and some chemicals, but for me the most interesting thing about lithography is that you can print your drawing directly from the stone and that way you get these wonderful details and textures. Also it smells really nice.

Here I have just begun drawing on my stone using a few different techniques.
A detail that looks like a spider.
Here is my drawing completed and all gummed up.
Here is my drawing completed and all gummed up for the night.

The drawing needs to rest over night so the stone can absorb the grease properly and while it is resting we put a thin layer of gum arabic on top to protect it. Next thing to do is to print which we did the following day. The very first print is always quite light but as you keep printing the image becomes darker and clearer, apparently it takes up to 20 prints until they stop developing. We only did 8 prints and you can really see a huge difference in the first few and then it starts to slow down a bit but you are always getting more and more details in each print.

Her I am inking up my stone looking all pro.
Her I am inking up my stone before printing. The stone is kept wet so only the drawing will get inked, as the ink is oil based.
Here is the first print, very light as you can see.
Here is the first print, very faint as you can see.
Here we are at print eight and you can see more contrast and details.
Here we are at print eight and you can see a lot more contrast and details.

I am very happy with these results, there were a few details that didn’t print completely but overall I think it looks great! Already after these first couple of days my head is swimming with ideas and I just can’t wait to continue on with this work.

I will keep posting here about my work and more technical details about the whole process as well as news and inspirations. Thank you all for reading!



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