Stone Lithography

Addressing a crowd gathered for the 1929 Scammon Lectures at The Art Institute of Chicago, artist and printer, Bolton Brown, said of lithography, “here is an art of which we have but touched the hem of the garment…”

And while a good many years have passed, with innovations made, the message of this statement remains as true as ever. For those students with little to no experience in lithography, this course will serve as an introduction to the seemingly magical process of lithography. Lithography is one of the four core printmaking disciplines, but unlike any other, the printing matrix in lithography is completely flat, or planographic. Therefore, its success is based on the proper chemical conditioning of the printing surface to simultaneously repel water where the image is and hold water where the image is not. This way, through an artful exploitation of the mutual antipathy of grease and water, the lithographer is able to produce multiples.

This is largely a technique-based class, but the enterprising student should leave the course with a rudimentary understanding of stone lithography and proofs or an edition of their own hand-drawn and hand-printed lithograph. Intermediate and advanced students will be encouraged to subordinate the hallmarks of traditional and non-traditional stone lithography to their own artistic ends under the guidance of the instructor.

Previous drawing experience is helpful, but not mandatory.

What you will learn:

  • The physical preparation of calcium carbonate-based litho stones for accepting drawing material

  • Traditional lithographic dry and wet drawing techniques

  • Lithography press mechanics, proofing/printing, as well as all practical matters of communal litho shop etiquette.

Required supplies:

  • An assortment of Korn’s lithographic “pencil cores” (numbers 4, 3, 2, and 1 are recommended by the instructor)

  • 1 to 4 holder(s) for the Korn’s lithographic “pencil cores”

  • An assortment of Korn’s lithographic crayons (numbers 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, and 00 are recommended by the instructor)

  • Newsprint (a 9″x12″ OR 12″x18″ pad should suffice)

  • Acid free, cotton rag printing paper such as Rives BFK or Somerset Satin (to be purchased prior to proofing and editioning)

  • Metal-free, bamboo brushes (used while etching and processing the stone)

  • Two printers’ cellulose sponges

  • Gloves, nitrile (either disposable or multi-session use)

  • Pencil (HB or harder)

  • One roll of masking tape

  • Notepad or sketchbook for notes