Print making using the craft technique of lithography. Note: This entry refers to the craft practice of lithography as distinct from fine art (see ‘Other information’ below).
|Historic area of significance|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||19th Century|
|Current no. of professionals (main income)||11-20|
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
||Approximately 12 professional print workshops|
|Current no. of trainees||See ‘Other information’|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
||See ‘Other information’|
|Current total no. of leisure makers
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required||Not known|
Stone lithography is a printing process that allows an artist to work using traditional techniques, and to create prints that rival a painting in terms of detail, mood, variation etc. It reached its height of popularity during the 1800s, but it is still practised today by artists and lithography workshops.
In modern lithography, the image is made of a polymer coating applied to a flexible plastic or metal plate.
Lithography is a printing process that uses a flat stone on which the image areas is created using a greasy substance that the ink will adhere to, while the non-image areas remain ink-repellent.
Invented around 1798 in Germany, stone lithography exploits the water repelling properties of grease. An image is drawn on a smooth, level limestone plate using oil-based lithographic drawing materials that are available in both solid and liquid forms. When the drawing is complete, a chemical process is used to bond the hydrophobic image to the stone and allow it to be inked for printing.
During printing, the stone is kept continuously wet with water as the image is inked and the stone and paper are run through a press that applies uniform pressure to transfer the ink onto the paper.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Availability of raw materials: This is a key risk factor for the craft. There are no longer any lithographic stones being excavated and so all crafts people rely on old stones that are reused.
Training issues: Whilst training is being effectively disseminated by master printmakers in the UK, the highest level of training is primarily provided by the Tamarind Institute in Texas.
Royal Society of Painter Printmakers
V&A prints and drawing room
Ashmolean Print Collection
British Museum Print Collection
Craftspeople currently known
Printers listed in this category will be those who provide expertise and work collaboratively with artists to produce lithographs.
- Stanley Jones MBE
- Paul Croft
- Lee Turner
- Simon Burder
- Catherine Ade
- Stephanie Turnball
- Thomas Cert
- Michael Gill
- Steven Clarkson
- Nora Hammenberg
- Laura Bianchi
- Mathew Young
- Serena Smith
- Curwen Print Studio
- Jemma Gunning
- Edinburgh Printmakers
There are many UK artists and printmakers using lithography in their work at a highly skilled level. However, the craft of lithography as practised by highly trained master printers is at risk. Most of these printmakers will have been trained at the Tamarind Institute in the US.
There are still a number of art colleges and higher education institutions that have print shops and so many students will have some experience of using lithography.