Tag: lithography

Engraving – part #3


Lithography is a printing technique through the use of a limestone plate . The main component of this type of stone is the calcium carbonate, which has the property of changing in surface its chemical composition in contact with acids, and easily accommodate the fatty substances. Due to this property, you can create areas with different physico-chemical properties on the surface of the stone: hygroscopic, which attract and hold the water, but repel greasy-resinous inks; fatty, which repel water but retain inks.

To prepare the stone matrix, you can use two methods: the chemical one and physical one. Among the others, the techniques of pencil lithography or brush lithography belong to the chemical method; engraved lithography and embossed lithography belong to the physical method. In this article I will deal only the techniques that I have personally used to produce my works.



Initially, the stone is smooth and cleaned by wiping it with another stone, once you have beveled the corners. Once it is dry, we proceed by drawing with a pencil or a lithographic crayon directly on the stone. In this way you will get the prints very similar to pencil drawings, with shading and chiaroscuro.

Once the drawing is finished, you should dust the surface of the plate with fine talc and skip to the etching of the matrix, stretching out on the entire stone a solution of arabic gum and acid with a broad brush and letting it dry for at least 12 hours.

The next steps are washing the acid away from the stone and spreading a thin layer of arabic gum to protect the parts of the stone that will remain white.

With a solution of turpentine and oil you check the areas of the matrix drawn with the pencil or the crayon, removing them, and you pass a thin layer of “litofina” (a mixture of tar and turpentine), which, penetrating into areas previously drawn, makes them even more fatty and therefore easily inkable.

After it has dried, you dust with talc, making the stone a matrix ready to be printed with a lithographic press.



In the brush lithography technique, the preparation of the stone is the same as described above, with the difference that the drawing is made on the stone with a brush and with the lithographic ink. To obtain various color shades, it is appropriate to dilute the ink some water. In this way, the array will report on the lithographic printing an effect very similar to a painting, with the gestures and the variety of signs that this could give.

To get a good variety of tones, from the lightest to the deepest black, the stone should be treated with a neutral soluble salt. The rest of the processing of the matrix is the same as described above for the crayon or pencil technique.

Engraving – part #1

In this series of blogposts I try to explain to those who don’t know the techniques that I have personally used to produce my works and I try to share the charm of the engraving in the production of unique works.

I will try to be as succinct as possible, trying not to bore you with too many technical terms, and share my creative experience, through the knowledge of the creative process. I hope I can help you to understand the work necessary to create an engraving, as well as to make you appreciate the beauty that you can perceive. If you are curious and want to know more, the links of the sources you’ll find at the bottom of the page will be very helpful.

The techniques that I used in the production of my engravings are divided into three categories and take their name from the material used as a matrix (the matrix is the support that is processed and then inked and printed on the sheet of paper):

1. XYLOGRAPHY: from the greek XILON (wood) is the direct engraving on a wooden board. A variant is the Linocut, the direct engraving of a linoleum slab.

2. CHALCOGRAPHY: from greek CALCO (copper) is the direct engraving (or through acids) of a metal plate.

Campo della Maddalena – Chalcography

3. LITHOGRAPHY: from the greek LITHOS (stone) is the engraving using a pencil (or lithographic ink) of a stone slab.

The xylography and linocut are embossed techniques. The surface of the plate is the one that receives and transfers the color to the paper sheet; signs engraved remain white. In this case, the drawing should be developed in negative, imaging that the engraved signs are white space that will leave bare the paper after printing, and the parties that have not been removed of the the plate as the colorful signs that compose the drawing.

The direct engraving (without the support of acids) of the sheet of wood (or linoleum) is made with chisels and gouges of various shapes, following the drawing which was previously traced on the plate, considering that the print will mirror compared to the visible signs on the plate. The block can be in wood thread (a panel of wood cut in the sense of the fiber) or head wood (when the panel of wood is cut in the direction perpendicular to the fiber).

The linocut block is a tablet made of linoleum, a modern material composed of a mixture of linseed oil, resins, cork dust and wood lying on a large plot of hemp.
The xylographic block and the linocut one are printed through the inking roller of the plate and the use of a printing press, a flat vertical press or a roller press gravure, following the expedient to place two guides at the sides of the plane of the press, of the same thickness of the plate.
This technique is suitable to the development of extremely graphic works, with clear and strong signs and, where the press uses a single matrix, while you can get much more detailed work, with different colors and shades of light and dark, when the press is obtained by the use of multiple arrays printed one above the other, making sure to overlap perfectly.

Fondamenta Ca’ Balà – Linocut