Lithography or stone print comes from Greek (Lithos, gr: stone) is a graphic techniquewhere the pressure plate is a special limestone. The best stones come from the quarries at Solnhofen in Bavaria.
The lithograph originated in the 1700s when the German playwright and actor,Aloys Senefelder, experimented with the technique, and initially used it as a cheap method for the reproduction of theatrical posters. Just over 100 years later, the French litany of art printing was revealed. It became a good way to make original art – while making it accessible to a wider audience.
The technique itself is based on the principle that grease repels water and vice versa. The special limestone is used because it can suck and hold a certain amount of both water and grease. The process is as follows: The stone is sanded until the previous drawing disappears. The stone is being used again and again. With lithographic marker, the artist paints the motif on the stone. This may well be an art in itself, as the motif must be inverted. The pen used contains grease and now the stone becomes greasy where the subject is.
The stone is now undergoing a chemical process to prepare it for pressure. The stone is placed in the printing machine and moistened with water all the time. The ink contains grease, and since water repels grease, the color will only lay where the artist has drawn with the marker.
The paper used for art printing is handmade paper made of rags, usually made of linen or cotton. The paper is acid-free and tolerates light without changing color. The amount of ink also helps to make the lithography durable. Compared to a regular poster printed in offset, the layer of color is 8 times thicker.
The way the colors are laid is one at a time. For example, the artist draws the black contour color first. When printed, the stone is sanded and prepared for the next color. It is not uncommon for a lithograph to contain between 10 and 20 colors. This means that the process is repeated as many times. So it is the close collaboration between artist and lithographer that results in a beautiful work.