Friday, August 19th, 2011

Trailer for litho film

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Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Monotype Session


Finished monotype assembly just prior to being printed.

picture-2picture-1In Tampa, FL I worked on a monotype session with Lynn Havel from Gunnison, CO. Here are a few video clips from that session that we recorded for fun. Please go to the Artists/Images page and click on Lynn’s name for more pics of his work- some were done in Spokane, WA and others in Tampa, FL. In these photos Lynn is starting to assemble the print by working with inked flats on a litho plate and on papers which have been torn to shapes. To see more monotypes by different artists, please go to the Artists/Images page and click on ConradĀ  Schwable or Sam Scott.

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Monday, October 6th, 2008


The collotype printing process was invented in the late 19th century- about 1880-1885. It is a photo process using a continuous tone negative and a light sensitized plate. The early plates were made out of glass, but they tend to break in the press. Plexi or aluminum litho plates work very well. The litho plate works the best I feel because it has a tooth on it which helps hold the light sensitive gelatin from being scrubbed off during printing. I have also used limestone and onyx stones as plates. The negative is exposed to the sensitized plate with the appropriate light source for a specific time. Development is done with water in a dark area so as not to over-expose the image. After exposure and development a raised area of gelatin remains on the plate. During the printing process, the gelatin is kept moist by light sponging- like Lithography- or misting. The light areas of the image hold more moisture than the dark areas and so will take less ink. The dark areas are hard and will hold more ink. The oil-based ink is repelled by the light areas which hold more water. Once the plate is fully inked it is run through the press and the gelatin must be re-dampened and inked again. The beauty of the medium lies in the very fine tones created when the gelatin is exposed to the light source. The gelatin tweaks into shapes similar to brain matter giving the fine tones without a half-tone screen which has a mechanical appearance. The process is so beautiful that some photographers print their Fine Art Prints with this medium.

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Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

ONYX- An alternative to limestone

I have found that original lithographs can be drawn on 3 types of stone. The most common is LIMESTONE- preferably good quality grey stones from Bavaria. Limestone is a SEDIMENTARY rock formed over eons of time from small fossils and water under pressure. Another printing stone is MARBLE. Marble is a METAMORPHIC stone formed by the heating and recrystallization of limestone. The drawings on marble are not as crisp as on limestone, but this stone is cheaper and easier to obtain than limestones. The third and most interesting printing stone is ONYX. Unlike the two other stones, onyx is a MINERAL called CHALCEDONY which is made up of masses of interlocking micro crystals of QUARTZ. It has a hardness index of 7 which is only 3 numbers down from the diamond which is number 10. Because of this hardness, the drawings on onyx tend to be very crisp and the processing has to be approached differently. Also the graining cycle takes less time and materials.

When I opened my shop Ocean Works, limestones were hard to find and expensive. I ordered five medium stones and five 24″x36″ stones. I got the smaller stones within two years, but never received the larger sizes. I finally bought some used stones for 22×30 prints, but by that time we wanted to be able to work larger than that. Our press had a 40″x72″ bed so we decided to try and find an alternative stone for very large prints. I knew marble worked, but I didn’t like the mushy look so I decided to try onyx. We went up to North Hollywood to a stone importer. They had stones from all over the world and they let us roam around and look for ourselves. We bought two small sample stones of onyx: Mexican onyx and Afion onyx from Turkey. These stones were used as outer skins on buildings and were only 1″ thick. We backed them with slate and started our testing. They worked great! They loved water and they loved grease- just what you need to create a lithograph. The Afion is white and mostly vein free where as the Mexican onyx is a yellow to green color and has a lot of decorative veining and fusion lines which got in our way visually and affected the way the stone took the drawing materials. So we went with the Afion. It took litho pencil, crayon, prismacolor, and a variety of tusches beautifully. We grained to 300 grit for very fine tonal drawings. It is harder than limestone so the processing had to be hotter (lower ph-more acid) but there is less image penetration so graining is faster- starting with 180 grit. We bought two huge slabs about 5′ by 8′ and hauled them down to the shop where we cut them into four stones. Two were 40″x60″ and two where 24″x36″. Next we bought three slabs of 2″ thick slate from a pool table manufacturer, each measuring 40″x60″- from a 5’x10′ table. Two were used to back the large onyx and the third was used a a plate backer. All four stones work beautifully and have lasted for many years. They are lighter than limestone and much cheaper. If large stones are hard for you to find you might consider making your own from onyx. Good printing!

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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008


The Ocean Works chop represents an ocean wave because the studio was located in Newport Beach, Calif. We had a great space between the bay and the ocean. It is the personal chop for Conrad as well as the chop for the shop. It is a Tamarind custom that the senior printers design their own chops for the editions that they print. If they run a print that they didn’t proof then a blind stamp of the chop image is inked on the back of the print with a light colored ink. These chop marks aid in the verification of the print by curators and signify its quality off the press. Some artists and publishers also have chops- why, I don’t know. The chop is an embossing created when a male and female mould are pressed together on the print paper. Most shops have a unique symbol just for the printers.

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Thursday, September 11th, 2008

The Ocean Works Press “Chop”

Ocean Works Press Chop

Ocean Works Press Chop

This is the “chop” used at Ocean Works. A chop is an identifying symbol used by lithographers and print shops.

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Wednesday, September 10th, 2008


Welcome to my site and blog.

Through the years, my work with Ocean Works Press, as well as other opportunities have allowed me to work with many great artists of our time, including Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and others.

My plan for the blog is to share my experiences, both professional and personal, to give better insight into the people I have worked with, the processes involved (both physical processes and mental processes).

Lithography has always been my …….

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