Mokulito Demo

At SGC I attended a demonstration on how to do Mokulito, or wood lithography. The technique was researched by Ewa Budka and her father. There is a video of her explaining the steps

Here are the steps as I recorded them during her demo.

Things to know: You cannot reuse the plates. You should draw, process, and print the plate within a few days — once it is processed you must print it immediately. Ewa got the best results with an etching press. She said that a regular litho press did not work for this technique. Mokulito is similar to pronto plates in that edition size is small, about 15 impressions. It is a unique edition, since there are small differences between prints.

1. Start with a piece of plywood. Any plywood will work (except pine), but you will get different effects based on the type of wood. Maple plywood is smooth and gives a white background most similar to lithography. That is what Ewa is using in the demo. Birch gives a blurry effect, with visible grain.
Step One: Sand the plywood with 220 grit sandpaper to get rid of oils and scratches. Don’t sand with the grain; use a circular motion. The wood should be as smooth and flat as possible.

2. To draw on the plate, you can use ANY oil based material. Ewa used sharpie paint markers and litho ink. It is important to get enough ink/oil soaking into the block. When brushing on the ink, work quickly and do not allow it to pool in one area for a long time.
To keep white space, you can carve out the block like a woodcut. 

3.When you are finished with the drawing, talc the plate as you would a litho stone. Then sponge on gum arabic. To process: allow the gum to dry for a few hours or overnight. Ewa said that longer is better, and 2 hours is a minimum.

5. Wash off the gum with cold water.

6. To print, you can use litho or etching ink. It is important that the ink be VERY loose. Ewa added a large amount of Linseed oil to make the ink runny.

7. Apply the ink with a foam roller, such as those available in a hardware store or craft store. Ink up with the grain, working quickly. Sponge in between passes as you would for a litho stone.

8. Different colored markers, such as silver sharpie, will transfer when printing. This can be used to your advantage.

9. Ink up and sponge until the block is full.

10. Print on an etching press using a pressure similar to wood block. The first print is always bad, as the ink settles into the grain. The whole edition must be printed at once, (it may be possible to step away for a minute – always leave it rolled up and buffed with gum). Unlike litho, you never wash out the ink from the plate. When changing colors, roll the new color on top of the existing color.

Other interesting demonstrations that I attended at SGC included Kim Gatesman’s “A Homemade Printmaker”, in which she shows her technique for electrolytic etching, as well as having everything in her studio fold up and fit into one crate. Another interesting one was “Pastemaking for Printmakers.” This one showed the use of starch paste (rice/wheat) for screenprinting and inkjet transfer. Organic pigments such as beet and onion were also used.