The Making of a Lithograph2018-03-09T00:06:37+00:00

Project Description

The Making of Lithographs

Preparation of the stone prior to adding the drawing:

  1. Stone selection: Select a stone of the appropriate dimensions for your drawing.
  2. Control of the stone surface: Place a metal ruler diagonally over the stone surface and place a sheet of paper underneath it. Trying to move the sheet of paper should be met with some resistance. If it moves freely there exists an indentation on the stone surface, which can be corrected by grinding down the edges of the stone, a relatively time-consuming process depending on the depth of the unevenness.
  3. Rounding the edges of the stone: To protect the stone surface, the edges need to be rounded off with a file or a rough grinding stone. This prevents the acceptance of paint during the printing process.
  4. Watering of the stone: To remove all remaining rubber covering of a previous drawing, the stone is thoroughly washed.
  5. Grinding the stone down: The old drawing and penetrated fat are ground down with grinding sand and a small litho stone:
    a: Twice with 80 grinding sand. The stone is wetted and the sand applied. Then the litho stone is placed onto the selected stone and in figure-of-eight movements the sand is worked over the surface until the litho stone runs smoothly over the stone being prepared. The stone is washed off under running water and procedure repeated once more.
    b: The same procedure is repeated twice with 180 grinding sand (which is finer)
  6. Creating the correct granulation of the stone: With the help of a glass plate and 280 grinding sand the correct size granulation is created on the stone surface applying the technique described above. In between the two grinding steps the granulation is briefly ground down to build up a raster granulation.
  7. The stone is then thoroughly washed down and completely dried. Then the drawing can be applied.

Creation of the drawing:

  1. A drawing is created and traced onto tracing paper.
  2. The tracing paper is flipped over. Placed over a sheet of copying foil and the drawing applied to the stone by tracing it with a roller pen.
  3. The drawing is subsequently completed on the stone with Indian ink or chalk, either of them containing fat because it is the fat that eventually accepts the paint and allows the print to be completed.

Preparation of the stone with the drawing:

  1. Add talcum powder: Place talcum powder onto a cotton wad and cover the finished drawing (created either with chalk or Indian ink) and swab it lightly. This binds loose particles of chalk or Indian ink.
  2. Preparation with weak searing liquid: Searing liquid 1 is applied first surrounding the edges of the drawing, followed by also cowering the drawing itself. This has to stay on the stone for at least 24 hours, during which it opens the pores of the stone and seals the fat in the drawing.
  3. Preparation of the stone for the second searing: The dried searing liquid (containing rubber) on the stone is softened with a moist sponge and the extra rubber is removed – still a light rubber covering remains on the stone. The stone is subsequently first dried with a soft cloth, followed by complete drying with a hair dryer.
  4. Washing the chalk/Indian ink out: (we need only the fat that entered the stone for the print) The drawing is washed with pure turpentine (not too moist) until all dark marks are gone. Subsequently the drawing is covered with a special rubbing tincture in strong, small circular motions. The excess tincture is removed with soft, thick threads (Putzfäden in German) without exerting excessive force. The stone is then moistened without effort with a very wet sponge and then cleaned under running water.
  5. Application of a special ink (Federfarbe in German): The moistened stone is “back-rolled” with special ink until the drawing is visible again. The moist ink is protected with talcum powder. At this point corrections in the drawing can be achieved with the help of a pumice stone or the flat surface of an etching needle.
  6. Second searing: Searing liquid 2 is applied to the free edge of the stone and after leaving it there for a few seconds, the liquid is pulled over the entire drawing. Some additional searing liquid is applied over the entire stone. The liquid is left on the stone for 2-4 minutes, followed by removing the top layer of the searing liquid with a moist sponge. As before, a thin layer of rubber covering is left on the stone. The stone is then dried without force with a soft cloth. Drying is completed with a hair dryer.
  7. Finishing the stone for printing: The special ink is removed with the help of pure turpentine, followed by covering the drawing with the special tincture in strong, small, circular movements. The excess tincture is removed with the thick, soft threads without force. Then the stone is moistened with a very wet sponge, followed by washing it off under running water.

The stone is now ready for printing

  1. Protection of the drawing after printing: The color used for printing is washed out and covered with the special ink (see points 3, 4, and 5 above) if it needs to remain intact for later additional printing. At the end it is covered by a thin layer of searing liquid (rubber)


  1. The color needed is mixed to the specifications of the artist and a very sticky, thick liquid is added to it and thoroughly mixed. The color is then spread with a big roller on a large marble plate, located next to the large printing press.
  2. The roller is evenly covered with paint and subsequently a thin layer is applied to the moist stone.
  3. The selected paper is placed over the stone and run through the press under several tons of pressure.

If a multicolor lithograph is created two or more stones have to be prepared.

  1. To assure the correct placement of the paper of the drawing, a small hole is prepared near the edge of each stone. It goes without mentioning the little holes need to be at the identical position relative to the drawing on both stones.
  2. A special ruler containing a needle at the exact distance between the holes is applied to the different sheets of paper selected for the print and holes created on all sheets selected for the edition.
  3. Each sheet of paper is spanned on the ruler and then applied to the stone with the needles entering the small holes.
  4. The first color is applied, the sheet of paper removed and left to dry.
  5. The procedure is repeated for the second color with the second stone, etc.

The Making of Lithographs:  Preparation of Stone

The Making of Lithographs:  Creation of the Drawing

The Making of Lithographs:  Sealing the Drawing

The Making of Lithographs:  Printing