Lots of questions

Today I experimented.

Using a variety of materials (ink, tusche, crayon) I made marks on a piece of mylar that had been prepared for lithographic printing. My goal was to determine how dark the marks needed to be to show up on the litho plate. Those smudges from the lines drawn with a lithographic crayon and then rubbed – would they show up? How about the faint lines painted with a thin brush? The thick lines painted with a brush? The text outlined with a micro tip pen?

It’s fun to play. Rarely do I have the time and space to explore new methods and let go of pre-conceived notions. That’s one of the luxuries of a residency. There’s little to distract me, and I can devote hours to experimenting without interruption. (Although I did take a break to do laundry this afternoon. The apartment I’m staying in requires residents to reserve the laundry room, and the only open slot for several days was today from 3 to 5.)

Making the plate is easy here at KKV. They have a humungous exposure unit that tightly seals the film against the plate. You place the film on the glass and the plate on top, then pull down the lid and clasp shut. Then twist a knob, turn a dial to engage the vacuum, flip the unit upside down so the light coming from above will expose the plate, enter the exposure time and push “start.”

After exposing the plate, I took it to a sink and poured developer over the plate and rubbed with a sponge until the images appeared. As you can see, only the darker marks showed up on the plate. 

I’m very pleased with the thick line and how the smudging showed up. The lettering worked well, too. As for the rest, well, back to the drawing board. Hard to know what went wrong. Was the exposure time not correct? Did I not leave developer on long enough? Does this process require dark marks? Tomorrow my lithographic printing friend Cecilia will return to KKV to answer my questions.

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