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Old 11-09-2017, 09:38 PM
SundayShael SundayShael is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 2
Need advice on which to learn? - aluminium plate lithography or etching


I need some advice from members with experience in soft/hard ground etching, and/or aluminium plate lithography. I'm planning to do a printmaking course early next year, and I need to choose between these two processes, and I'm having difficulty working out which one will best suit me.
I've been researching both but I'm feeling overwhelmed wading through all the information about the different processes and chemicals etc.

I know there are various chemicals involved in both processes, and it seems some might be more difficult to work with at home than others, and toxicity is a big consideration for me.

I'm fairly new to printmaking and have so far only done drypoint on my little A4 sized press at home. I want to learn a new method that I can still do on a small scale at home, but that produces longer lasting plates than drypoint, and I also want more of a 'drawing' feel when working on the plate than I get with scratching drypoints.

My goal is to be able to create prints from my drawings, and I'm leaning towards plate lithography as the directness of drawing onto the plate with a litho pencil or crayon appeals to me, but I'm not sure if this would be all that different from drawing into soft/hard ground in etching, as I've never done that either.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom anyone might be able to impart
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:27 PM
BeLing BeLing is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 437
Re: Need advice on which to learn? - aluminium plate lithography or etching

Lithography is much more direct, I think, than intaglio, BUT I've never had much luck printing except with a litho press (the etching press, using a roller instead of a scraper, just never did the job for me.)

Intaglio printing is, compared to lithography. . . a mess! I do etchings, and consider, most of the ink you put on a plate has to come off again. You wipe and wipe. Litho, you roll and roll, wiping frequently with the gum-water solution, put on a nice dry paper, and pull off a clean print. But usually you do need to make many preliminary "make ready" prints, before the plate is conditioned to print. Then you can print off thousands, I guess.

So as you might have guessed, I advise you to learn both! If you can, peek into a classroom while it's in session. You'll find it very interesting.
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Old 11-18-2017, 04:48 PM
lovestofish lovestofish is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 145
Re: Need advice on which to learn? - aluminium plate lithography or etching

As far as flat out drawing it is hard to beat drawing on a litho plate with a crayon - especially with tonal ranges. If you want to print a litho plate on an etching press = I have done it with one blanket and then a sheet of plexi or hardboard and then the paper on top of the plate. You probably won't get the control that you can get if you used a litho press. But, it can be done. You can print Pronto plates the same way on an etching press (which can also be used with a litho press). The latter do not require all the chemistry involved in traditional litho processing. Aside from soft ground, hard ground and drypoint - you can also draw with sugarlift on a plate. You are not going to get the range of tones that you can with a litho plate (or stone). You will need to aquatint your plate, then draw your image with sugarlift and then coat your plate with liftground - before lifting the sugarlift with warm/hot water.
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Old 11-19-2017, 02:58 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,126
Re: Need advice on which to learn? - aluminium plate lithography or etching

For me, lithography feels like it is just an indirect method to be able to produce more than one image from a single stone or plate. I do enjoy it but there is no "magic" in it like there is with intaglio / etching and even lino block printing to some extent. What you see on a litho plate is pretty much exactly what you are going to get when you print it other than the reversing from right to left. With intaglio, particularly with copper plate etching and aquatint work, though you can learn to predict what will happen to some extent after years of doing it, there are always going to be unique surprises in the process. Rarely am I displeased with those surprises, more often I am excited by them.

Having dealt with the customers in several galleries trying to sell printmaking work, it seems like a large segment of the art buying public today is clueless when it comes to the "original print" concept of printmaking. I saw significantly more buyer interest in copper plate intaglio than other printmaking methods. This is just speculation but I think that the over saturated limited edition lithography and giclee print market (basically high quality photocopies of an original) is what has made the type of lithography we are talking about seem less valuable to many than it was some years ago.

I used to want to do lithography on stones rather than drawing on paper, because of the "cool" factor of using a centuries old technique plus the fact that each "print" is considered an original. I gravitated away from stone litho and towards intaglio because of the cost of the materials and the press - I only wanted to work on stones - plus I personally prefer the look of a copper plate etching to a stone litho and enjoy the process quite a bit more to boot.

Last edited by contumacious : 11-19-2017 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:16 PM
SundayShael SundayShael is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 2
Re: Need advice on which to learn? - aluminium plate lithography or etching

Thank you all for your advice I've decided to go with etching for now, as I can do it on my small etching press at home, whereas it seems that lithography either needs a specific lithography press or a good quality etching press + technical knowledge + a lot of luck. I wasn't aware that lithography is done on an altogether different type of press!
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