View Full Version : Paper-Litho-Transfer

12-15-2002, 03:56 PM
Help! I am trying to get consistant results from a print transfer process known as paper-Litho-Transfer. Has anyone tried this? Sometimes it works great and other times it is smeared with ink and has no definition.
In case you call it something different it is a process where you coat the back of a laser print or xerox with shellac, spread thin layer of gum arabic on top and roll the copy with oil-based ink, then print.
When it works, it is so cool.
Please help me understand how to control the results.

12-15-2002, 04:52 PM
I've never tried this, but I'd like to hear more about it. Sounds pretty interesting.


12-15-2002, 07:40 PM
Gladly. I am trying to print original computer generated images onto unusual materials, such as pages in a book, onto stretched canvas, etc. , in otherwords, things that do not fit in the printer.
I discovered this amazing process on the web. At first I didn't understand how it worked -- magic? But after doing it, I realized how it could be. Try it maybe you will have some insight into how to stablize the results.
Laser or xerox copy (must be heat set)
Oil based Lithography inks
gum arabic
1. Roll out your ink on a slab
2. Shellac the BACK of the xerox or print (can be done ahead and dried)
3. Spread a thin layer of gum arabic onto glass slab to hold copy in place
4. Spread copy face UP on slab
5. Spread a thin layer of gum over FACE of copy
6. With fresh water on sponge wipe excess gum from copy
7. Roll the copy with ink as if lithograph
8. Wipe the copy with a damp sponge
9. Ink again
10. Repeat inking to liking
11. Place good paper on clean plate and place inkied copy face down onto paper
12. cover with newsprint and then with blanket
13. Print
I am so anxious for someone to try this. Let me know how it goes!

12-27-2002, 02:35 PM
I tried this process in a printmaking class in college. You have to hold the original print very still while applying the gum arabic and the shellac. I found that my image came out with a negative look, but was able to work the image in a way that was unusual and exciting. I saw things in it that I never would have otherwise. Unfortunately my press is to small to make more of the prints. I only made 1 at the time since it was an experiement. I am going to have to order some gum arabic in order to experiment more with the process.

Thanks for reminding me of this technique. It really is fun to work the image afterwards. I found that a photo copy worked well, but I have not tried it from an image printed out from my computer printer.

12-28-2002, 04:25 AM
One silly question : what is Shellac ?

12-29-2002, 12:24 AM
Originally posted by Christobal
One silly question : what is Shellac ?

lol Shellac is what us older folks always used before polyurethene came along. It is difficult to find these days, but I buy in bulk when I do come across it. I use it as a stop out on my copper plates. It easily comes off with denatured alchohol, but stops the acid from biting where you don't want it to.

12-29-2002, 03:44 AM
Now I see!
(I though Shellac was a brand name.)
In French it is "gomme-laque".

01-29-2009, 02:51 AM
Shellac is an interesting stuff made from bugs.

01-29-2009, 10:34 AM
More precisely, it is an interesting stuff (resin) made BY bugs.

It shouldn't be hard to find at all. Home Depot carries premixed shellac, and I suspect that most paint stores do as well. If you want shellac flakes that you dissolve yourself, you can find them online at www.rockler.com or www.woodcraft.com


01-30-2009, 12:10 AM
I'm going to argue this, since you throw the bugs in the pot to make shellac out of what is in the pot.:wave:

01-30-2009, 11:02 AM
I've done this (with moderate success) with just plain paper--didn't occur to me to support the paper! So, I'll bet you could put acrylic medium on the back--doesn't have to be nasty-smelling shellac. Also, you should try using polyester plate--it doesn't fall apart like paper does.

The main issue I've had is that the toner for my little 'freebie' laser printer doesn't stick very well--it lifts back off when you ink it. So, I did some research and found that the old HP Laser printer 5000 is the recommeded beast for poly-plate litho because back in the old days they didn't care about power useage, so the fusing heat is KILLER. My husband lurked patiently on Craigs list and found one for FREE. Very soon I'm going to try it out and I'll let you know!

01-30-2009, 11:44 PM
I too have tried it with mixed results. We do not use the shellac but only a laxer or xerox print treated with gum arabic and then rolled with litho ink. It works sometimes and not others. Some of my students can get 3 or 4 prints from one xerox and some can get only one. One is all that is to be expected. I have never heard of using shellac, but maybe I will try it. Ito goes on the back of the copy? Right?

02-06-2009, 09:38 PM
My local home hardware store (Bunnings) sells shellac flakes in their paint section. I mix it with equal quantities of methylated spirits. Methylated Spirits is Methyl alcohol and denatured alcohol is ethyl alcohol - one of them has an additive to make it distasteful for drinking and I think it's the methyo. It is cheap to buy and our indigenous Australians bought it to drink, for years. It made them very sick so the Government added something to it to make it unpalatable. Here is a Wikipedia entry on Shellac -

Shellac is an all-natural resin secreted by the female lac bug to form a cocoon, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand.[1]. It is processed and sold as dry flakes (pictured at right), which are dissolved in denatured alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze[2] and wood finish much like a combination of stain and polyurethane. Shellac functions as a tough all-natural primer, sanding sealer, tannin-blocker, odor-blocker, stain (pigment), and high-gloss varnish. Shellac was also once used in electrical applications as it possesses good insulation qualities and it seals out moisture.

Because dried shellac is all-natural and hypoallergenic (it can actually be eaten and is often used as a candy and pill coating), it is an excellent product for use around children, chemically-sensitive or allergic individuals, pets, and those concerned about toxins and chemicals in the home. It is also often the only historically-appropriate finish for early 20th-century hardwood floors, and wooden wall and ceiling paneling.

From the time it replaced oil and wax finishes in the 1800s, shellac was the dominant wood finish in the western world until it was replaced by nitrocellulose lacquer in the 1920s and 1930s. It remained popular in the Southern United States through the 1950s and 1960s. It continues to be a popular candy glaze for pill shaped sweets such as Skittles.

So, made BY bugs, not OF bugs. For many years I was told (and believed) it was made from crushed cockroach wings!!! Well, that's what it looks like.... It is used in French Polishing expensive furniture - many layers, sanded between each layer much like the process of making the black Asian lacquer finish which can have 20 layers.


02-08-2009, 09:10 PM
Anybody happen to have a scan of one these good transfers that they could post? I'm interested to see what kind of image does result from this process.

03-25-2009, 06:19 AM
Hi -- this is how we do it at the studio in London to make a lithographic transfer--seems less complicated than the previous suggestions but works generally with a variety of artists' work.

I. make xerox copy
2. almost immediately( important) spray back of copy with aerosol fixative
3. put copy face down on prepared ( prepasoled) litho plate that is slightlydamped with clean sponge
4 put through press litho or etching with sufficient packing to ensure adhesion of copy to plate ( you may want to run through two or three times depending on firmness of pressure
5 remove copy - there should be a transfer image now on the litho plate - you may wish to stenghten any part at this stage that haven't appreared ( by using standard litho drawing crayons or tousche) but generally you will find all or most of the image has been transferred
6. gum carefully by using intitally a weak solution of gun arabic dabbed on image - dry
7. gum again using a normal thickness of gum arabic -dry
8. process in the normal way one would a litho plate ( can also be used with marginally less succes on stone)

You should be able to print off up to hundred copies. We have used this methos at Lithostudio and at Curwen Studio in London with a number of artists I recall working with Henry Moore, John Piper and Jim Dine using this method.

John White LithoStudio London

03-25-2009, 08:01 AM
I think two topics are being addressed here.

the above post is how to create an actual litho plate from a xerox copy (which can also be done on a stone)

the thread initially started with printing straight from a xerox and inquiries thereof...I don't believe the question was related to creating a litho plate or stone from a xerox although that is far more controlled once the matrix is created

related to the above comment you can also oil up the xerox with vegetable oil and use it as a film on a photolitho plate

or roll the xerox up with ink using gum and ink (the same process initially brough up in the thread) and run it through the press on top of a receptive litho stone or plate to transfer the ink and the process the matrix

or you can place the xerox face down on the matrix and then place a solvent laden newsprint (lacquer thinner or acetone) on top of it, protective acetate and then the tympan and then run through the press and then process it

However, if you want to avoid all the processing and just want to go from a printed xerox to printing then I would stick to printing off a paper xerox (with or without backing which is what shellac is acting as...I have mounted xerox's on acetate and backs of aluminum litho plates) or printing your image using a toner based printer but use a pronto plate or smart plate instead of paper. The pronto/smart plates will not start to fall apart during the roll up/sponging process and you can make multiple prints provided you take the time to fix the toner onto the plate with heat.