Thursday, January 22, 2009

Z-Acryl Lithography Printing

I had a chance to demo z-acryl plates to a couple of the teachers at AASU and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to tape it and add it here. Z-acryl (brand name) makes thin plastic plates that are used similar to aluminum litho plates, but the advantage to these plates are their immediacy, cost and ease of use. There is no need to etch the images and the thin plates can be run through a computer lazer printer to print images on. When using toner, the plates do need to baked in the over according to the manufacturers directions to make sure that the toner does not lift off during printing. The plates are 13"x18" and currently cost $2.50 per plate. Something else similar to these plates are Pronto Plates, but I have not used them, so I cant say much about them. As far as I have heard they are preocessed the same way.

Basics before starting
1. be careful not to touch the front of the paper a lot. the oils in your fingers will stick to the paper, and will catch ink and print.
2. the paper has a front and a back side. The front is the rough side and the back is the glossy smooth side.
3. I am not aware of any way to make corrections for these plates, so what you draw there is permanent. (I'm not vouching for this, but you could maybe try scraping it off with a razor, but that would only work for very small areas.)

To start with my image, I already had a small leftover piece of a larger sheet. I wanted to just draw a small image that was fast and easy to print for the demo purpose. After I figure out my paper size, I place the litho paper face down on my CLEAN drawing surface and draw the outline of my paper on it with sharpie. (This will give you a pretty good registration, but I would not use it for multiple plate registration.) I also drew fainter lines in the middle to show where my image area is going to be. The paper is fairly translucent so the lines will show to the front.



I figured out what I wanted to draw, and sketched it out on a separate piece of paper. After I flip the litho plate face up, and use the sketch underneath as a guide for my drawing (remember no corrections, so plan well). I use a piece of paper to keep my hand directly from touching the plate. Drawing materials can be virtually anything oil base and waterproof. Easy media to start off with are sharpie markers and ballpoint pens. I also had a student who drew his image on the back glossy side of the plate, and we was able to print if off from there as well. Some of his penmarks did come off in the process though.


Below you see the finished drawing executed with ballpoint pen. It has very fine lines which all printed beatifully. You can also see the registration marks showing from the backside of the paper. The drawing is now ready to be printed. Important: when you get ready to print, make sure you have time to print the whole edition all in one day. So far we have not had much luck reprinting the same plate the next day after it has dried in between. If anyone has a good solution to this I would love to hear it.
I took a video of me printing this drawing on the etching press at AASU. This is my first demo video that I ever made so bare with me... If you have anything to add, or questions please comment or leave me an email, and I will try to include all good advice.


9 comments:

spiderink said...

Great demo and step-by-step. Thank you for posting this. I just wish there was a closeup of the final print. I've posted a link to this post on my blog.

mirkah said...

Thanks so much, I am glad it was helpful. It was hard to have any good quality images on a file so small. I'll have to remember that for the next video. You can view the final print on my website at http://www.mirkah.com/misc/index.htm the piece is titled Maja-Hut 1. It became a series of three little lithographs. They were so fun to print.

KaCe said...

Mirkah,
I'm so glad I got this information. I also like hearing what you are currently doing. You are a "go-getter". Happy New Year and thanks for the tutorial on Z-Acryl.

Anonymous said...

What do you clean the plates with? I used linseed oil and it was a disaster went I tried to print the 2nd time. The entire plate rolled up black.

Mirka Hokkanen said...

In response to anonymus above: THanks for your question. If you read the second to the last paragraph, the plates are pretty much good to go for one time. We had on/off luck printing with them a second time. You can't clean it with conventional methods. The best thing that worked for me is make sure the plate is clean (meaning ink in only the right places- no smudges) after the last printing and just let it dry with the ink on. You can run it through a press a couple times with news print, to get extra ink off. Then when you want to print again, you would just wet and roll up again. Most of the time that would cause ink to start building up in odd places and around lines though. But sometimes it works. It could be partly water deposits clogging the plate if you have soft water. In no circumstance put oil on the plate to clean it, that will just cause the whole plate to fill up. My best advice is work all your prints off the plate in one sitting.

JJ said...

I am trying this process for the first time - have done a fair bit of traditional litho in the past though - I have some rhenalon sheets (described as synthetic plastic) - are these suitable? what are polyester plates exactly ? Are they made specially for the purpose or would any plastic plate work?

Mirka Hokkanen said...

Hi JJ, I have never heard of Rhenalon, and after a quick google on it, it does not sound like it woul dbe suitable for this process. The Pronto and Z-Acryl brand name plates that I have mentioned in my blog posts are plastic plates that are specifically manufactured for this purpose. You can buy them from well stocked printmaking suppliers like Graphic Chemical and Dick Blick.

Robert Hanna said...

Would it be possible to teach this process to kids? We're working on a project to let classrooms of 4th-graders try a safe version of lithography. I'm thinking adults might at least have to ink up the plates . . .

Mirka Hokkanen said...

I guess that would depend on your class size and kids. You know your class best. I could see kids rolling up plates as long as there are enough adults to supervise and they don't all rush there at the same time. your other cheaper option would just be zerox copy rollup and transfer, but it is not as successful. Heres an example: http://www.marylandprintmakers.org/newsletter.asp?id=131