Xerolithography is a lithography process but simpler than using plates. It’s an easy process to experiment with and has the option to add colours with different inks.
Xerolithography is a fairly simple process, where it is paper (originally a xerox copy and not stone like in normal lithography) which is used to print from. The principle of the process is that “fat shuns water”, so black areas in your paper copy will receive ink and white will not. I have worked with the process for the last five years and gradually increased the complexity adding colors and adding more layers of paper on top of each print.
“What I like about the process is, that you are free to change the look of your original photo in numerous ways, still maintaining however the content of your original photo and that the print has a “soft” look as a result of the way you ink your paper.”
The method I am working with is presented in the following.
1Start the process A laser print of a photo (black and white) is quickly put in water, pulled out and placed on a sheet of glass with the printed side up. Gum Arabic is applied to the whole surface of the picture with a foam washcloth.
2Add ink Etching ink (Cranfield or other brands) is added a few drops of linseed oil to make it more fluid and then applied to the picture with a foam washcloth. Fold the foam washcloth tightly so it’s only a small area that is put into the diluted etching ink. Dab the ink onto the picture.
3Remove surplus Surplus ink is removed from the white areas of the picture with a new foam washcloth. Roll the washcloth over the picture and take care not to remove too much ink.
4Print in press Dampened printing paper is put into a printing press (see picture).
5Or use spoon If you do not have access to a printing press, you may also use a spoon to put pressure on the picture. The final print can be seen below – remember it is mirrored – so if it’s important like if the picture contains text, mirror the picture digitally prior to the xerolithography process.
6Add colour You can add any color you like and you may also print the xerolithography on top of other pictures.
Hope you will enjoy working with the process. The process needs some practicing before you have a perfect result- so start with a simple picture with much contrast- like the elephants shown in my example.