Working on my lithography stone


Working on my lithography stone, originally uploaded by plasticpumpkin.

Here’s part of my “Inner / Outer Journey” lithography project.

A real, live litho stone hand-worked with lithography crayons and inks. I call it “live” because working with a real stone is definitely about manipulating the natural earth and minerals. It feels much different than working with a metal lithography plate. You get to know your stone, and the way its surface behaves.

We are fortunate to get to work with lithographic stones here at the university, as there are few left out there in the world. The original quarry used for mining them has been closed for a while now. Most of the stones at UNM were donated by Tamarind Institute.

Anyway, this is a counter etch of the first image, BEFORE etching. It was drawn with lithography crayons and autographic inks.

The photo here shows the stone surface in mid re-draw, after counter etching more than 50% of the original image. I basically knocked out the background to create the new version of the image, with the incense burner lit.

The lit incense burner and its plume of smoke are the inner journey-the transformation found through burning incense and meditating. The first incarnation of the image (below) is the outer journey. The incense burner waits at the Taoist temple entrance. The incense has not yet been lit.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a pic of the stone with the first image on it–so I’m sharing one of the pulled lithos.

(Please note -the grayish area was caused by my camera’s reflection on the shiny ink).

I’ll share the Inner and Outer Journeys together, when I have photos taken of the final prints.

Outer Journey, Proof on Newsprint, Lithograph

10 thoughts on “Working on my lithography stone

  1. ooh, i love that!

    also, i know almost nothing about lithography, so my first reaction was “wait, that’s a rock?! OSSUM POSSUM.”

    ren the earth-mover, dude! great title.


  2. Yep! It’s a rock.😀

    It’s huge and heavy and requires an actual forklift-like machine to move it around the printing studio.

    It’s a special kind of Bavarian limestone. When you draw on the rock using grease crayons or other grease-based materials, it creates a micro-thin surface design. When you etch the design, it creates a printing base which is oil-based, and repels water. To print a lithograph, you must keep the stone wet so that ink only adheres to the oil-based drawn parts. You do this literally with a sponge and a bowl of water, wetting the surface between ink rolls.

    It can take a number of passes with the ink roller to coat the stone with the right amount of ink to pull prints.


    It’s hard to believe this is the old fashioned way people used to distribute images, written materials, and even book illustrations before photography. But it’s fascinating and it works.

  3. Love the look of litho prints-hate the process!!! But, it is quite magical….I think the part that I really don’t like is that you really need someone to help you pull the prints.
    Your stone is looking great!!!

  4. @MolokaiGirl

    It sure does help to have a sponger, but I’ve been doing editions of 10, with about 6 – 8 proofs each run by myself. Whew. I’ve literally lost weight and gained a ton of muscle tone. LOL.

    I’ll have to share my maniere noir litho and the counter etch from this stone. I removed everything but the incense burner with acid.

    The photo I snapped of the proof makes it look muddy. I need a new camera.

  5. p.s.

    Thanks, Paula!

    And I totally agree. Lithography is magical. For every moment that’s frustrating as hell, there are ten moments where you feel like you’ve uncovered an ancient artfiact of sheer wonder.

  6. Your art is different then others, but i love it. Its nice that you are sharing it with us , other artists(if i can call myself an artist:)) Well…. anyway if you will find a spare minute just check my blog… i have just started but there might be some interesting pieces for you…. thanks for allowing me to leave this post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s