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Mary has been developing and experimenting with this new technique for over a year, looking for a way to make lithography accessible and relevant to modern printers. This was the first course to be run anywhere in the country.

The nub of this process is to use grease based media which will create a positive mark. The rest of the surface, which has been well sanded beforehand, is dampened. The ‘greasy’ areas attract ink and the dampened areas repel it. The positive marks will appear on the paper in reverse.

The process is much more controllable than caustic soda etching, allowing for marks as varied as washes to thick straight lines. Inked up objects can be pressed into the lino, as can fingerprints – clean or smeared. Pressure can be varied too – creating stronger or fainter lines. Stencils can be applied so that only certain areas of the lino are inked. Found objects such as leaves can be inked up and pressed onto the surface and even delicate lines such as leaf veins will be retained.

Once the marks on the plate are completely dry, the lino is covered with Gum Arabic solution. Firstly, it is lightly dusted with talc or French chalk applied with a clean cloth. This helps prevent the marks from being smudged by the solution.A thin layer of the solution is applied with a dampened sponge and the plate is left to dry. This can be quick, but the longer it is left the better the result will be. Mary has left plates up to 3 weeks before removing the gum.

Once the gum is dry, the lino can be cut into. Any cuts made will appear as white marks on the print and on any subsequent layers too.

The plate is prepared for printing by rubbing off the Gum Arabic under running water. The plate is kept damp and is redampened throughout the inking process. The lino is inked for about 3 passes of the roller, then dampened again with a sponge. This is repeated about 3 times and then the plate is printed onto dry paper.

Many different effects and marks can be achieved using this process including watery, layered washes, patterns, blended shading etc. White marks, cut into the lino after the first stage are clear, sharp, and edged with a thin black line.

Once the plates have been cleaned with oil, they can be cut into again and printed as a new lino layer over the original print – making more complex and nuanced work.

The course results were a great success. The whitest backgrounds were created on the plates which had been most thoroughly sanded. The results were amazing and varied. The technique opens up a huge range of possibilities and everyone left eager to experiment with the new process.

Mary was a delightful tutor- so knowledgeable, organised and enthusiastic. This was a highly enjoyable and stimulating course which I would highly recommend.