Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photography & Printmaking: Part 2

Editors Introduction: Last week we had guest contributor Lindsay Appel introducing you to the world of printmaking processes that include photography. She covered the basics of screen printing, photogravure, and photoplate lithography (see Part 1 here). Today, we have Part 2 to this series that will cover two other lithographic processes for printing photos- polyester plate lithography, and stone lithography.

Printmaking can be a fun, alternative, and beautiful way to print your photographs, and there are many different ways to do so. The different techniques can produce different effects, and also in many cases allow you to combine both photography and drawing. Some of the techniques can be done at home with the proper set up, and can be hand printed, but most of these techniques will require the use of a printmaking studio and presses. If these techniques interest you, we suggest taking a class in your area to get a better understanding of the process and to have access to the equipment needed. 

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Left: Original photograph. Right: Photo printed from a pronto plate (1 color) with ink on paper. (Note that this image is also used below in the "Drive-in" scene and printed from a stone)



Print detail (from pronto plate)



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Polyester Plate Lithography (also called Pronto Plates) is one of the easiest ways of printing photographs in the printmaking medium. The plates are designed to print images from a computer onto the plate by using a dry toner laser printer or copier. You can combine photographs and computer imagery, as well as drawing with the use of permanent markers or ballpoint pens. The plates do not require the traditional etching process- you simply print the image on the plate, process with chemistry, ink the plate, and print. The two main benefits of this form of lithography is that it's low cost and nontoxic.

You can choose to print a single color image, or a black and white image with the use of one plate, or you can also choose to print a color image using multiple plates with CMYK separations.

2 color lithograph (printed from two pronto plates)

2 color litho detail


Stone Lithography is simply lithography using a piece of lithographic limestone instead of a metal or polyester plate. The process of printing from a stone was popular in the 1800s and requires a detailed process for preparing and inking the stone. The basic principle is that the artist draws on the stone with an oil-based substance (such as a litho crayon), and the stone holds onto the greasy substance. When the stone is moistened with water (after processing the stone), the parts of the stone that don't have any of the greasy material will soak up the water. When oil-based ink is rolled onto the stone, the greasy areas pick it up and the wet parts do not. Then, your ink is transferred from stone to paper.

Like other processes, if you want an image with multiple colors, you will need different stones (with color separations) to print with (and need to have your image reversed since it will print a mirror image). The stone lithography process is one of the more time consuming litho processes, and takes a bit of strength to do so, since lifting the heavy stones (and grinding them to prep them) may be required.

Stones are reused, so the first step in prepping a stone is to grind and polish it, which removes the previous image and prepares the surface for the new one. While most stone lithography work these days are done by means of drawing or painting, photographs can also be used by transferring the photos to the stone before processing.

Pronto plate detail (scan of actual plate)- This plate was used to print photographs onto from the computer, and then some basic sketches (with a pen) were added to hold placement. The pronto plate image was then transferred to a stone to process and print from. Since there was a double transfer, from plate to stone and stone to paper, flipping of the image was not required.






Final print- Printed from a litho stone. After the pronto plate image was transferred to the stone, the image on the stone was then worked with adding and subtracting small parts of the image to get better details and tones (see in the screen area) by way of litho crayons and a razor blade.

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If you're interested in learning more about stone lithography, this article walks you through all of the steps from prepping and developing the stone, all the way to printing it.


Resources:
If you're interested in taking a printmaking class, you can search for them locally through colleges or universities, art centers, or printmaking studios. To get you started, here are a few places around the U.S. that offer classes-

* Crown Point Press Workshops- San Fransisco, CA
* Angels Gate Cultural Center- San Pedro, CA
* Kala Art Institute- Berkeley, CA
* Zea Mays Printmaking- Florence, MA
* The Savannah College of Art and Design- Savannah and Atlanta, GA 



all images © BlondeShot Creative