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An Attempt to Take Advantage of Oil and Water Not Mixing

I decided to try I technique that I found which is known by a bunch of different names, including Paper Lithography, Xerox Lithography, Gum Transfer Printing, and probably a bunch of other things. I’m interested in it because I think the printed mark has a very different quality to the painted mark, and communicates very different things. It can tap into ideas about mass media and truth and permanence and universality in a way that the freehand mark does not. I think this process also could have the ability to create a look of printed imagery without the investment of time and resources into making and exposing silk screens; each plate (photocopy) is only used once, so each printed image can be the same or different, it doesn’t make much difference to the process (aside from the image editing part at the beginning, but that’s another story.)

So, it’s sort of working, but not really. I think it’s going to take practice, and probably a lot of it.

This process is based, like lithography, on the fact that oil and water don’t mix. A photocopied or laser printed (heat set type) plate is the starting point, and it is washed with gum arabic solution. The red here is oil based printing medium, I chose red because the colour doesn’t matter to me, and I thought it would be easy to see, the printing medium must be oil based. That’s important. It is rolled on the damp plate, and should, in theory, stick only to the black parts of the image, where the ink has repelled the water and gum arabic solution, you can see it sort of doing that above. When enough (that’s subjective) ink is on the plate, it can be placed on the object to be printed onto, carefully, to avoid bubbles, and made to transfer to the surface by rolling with a brayer or rubbing or burnishing with some other tool, a spoon, a pottery rib, etc.

I’ll tell you more when I actually make it work. Yes. Or at least, work a bit better, as this is the best one I’ve gotten so far:

I should experiment with ceramics slip casting. I seem to have an interest in the handmade/mass-produced….

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