The Big Stone Conundrum.
I had lots of plans. I was going to try and make a CMYK lithograph of a dead pigeon, on the largest stone I could find.
Pigeons were, and continue to be, a source of research, visual exploration, and metaphor. I had been photographing dead pigeons whenever I came across one, which is more often than you might think, given how short my daily commute is.
In my mind I had it all planned out – deeply scored registration marks would make lining up a breeze; lightly graining the stone between colours, and then using counter etching to open up the stone to new drawing, while keeping remnants of the previous layer. It was going to be smoooth. Until it wasn’t.
Geowash-K, the VCA in use at AGALAB, is incredibly strong. Yes, it removes the drawing material, but horror of horrors, left too long, it also dissolves the fatty deposits on the stone! On a small to medium stone, printing in black, you can get away with it. I learned that moving quickly and using less VCA meant I could keep most of my image, and printing in black meant it wouldn’t have to be… super clean?
At this point, I wouldn’t recognise myself.
If, however, you were working on the largest stone available, measuring a full 70cm x 100cm, and you wanted to print a clean yellow… disaster ensued. To get the stone clean of drawing materials required more VCA and more time, which led to more of the fatty deposits dissolving and, in some cases, disappearing entirely. Yellow was both heartbreaking and exhausting. The drawing just disappeared. I know when I teach lithography, I say this is a possibility, just to prepare students… but I don’t really mean it.
Magenta and cyan were similar experiences. I persevered, despite the disaster image I was creating, because it would still be worth trying a deeply scored register, graining lightly between layers, working with a citric based counter etch. I’m pleased to say these things all worked, but the image was a disaster. I’ll post it here, but I’ll never show it in public, I’ve not signed any of them since returning from Amsterdam. They sit in a drawer, a reminder of what should have been.