Art & Design Magazine

M is for My Mokulito - Using Wood as a Matrix

By Ainescannell @etchedweb

M is for my Mokulito ( Making Lithograph prints using wood as a matrix)In my research on this subject,  Mokulito is often referred to as an “easy process”.  Being as I'm a printmaker I have the feeling that this is not true…..but…..on hearing a ’summary’ of the steps involved.  I can appreciate why the tag ‘easy’ is used.
Mokulito is a printmaking method that's been around since 1970’s.  I won't go into the who and the when ie the history here.  It's the process that particularly interests me.
NOTE:  using oil based inks, it can be printed on either a relief or an etching press (seems to work better) 

NOTE:  THIS IS A 1 day process from when the plate has the ‘gum Arabic coat’ is removed.

Step by Step
PLATE/MATRIX.............What kind of wood? 
Plywood sheets, such as maple-veneer, birch or beech any kind of plywood seems to be OK except pine.  I would use Birch plywood as I have several pieces of these in my studio.
Apparently Birch gives a blurry effect, with visible grain, but then that might give an effect that I particularly like.
M is for my Mokulito ( Making Lithograph prints using wood as a matrix)
Prep the wooden plate ; with fine grade sandpaper; sand it by moving your hand in circles gently and cover the entire surface.  Wipe clean with damp cloth to get rid of dust etc.
The next step is apply a layer of milk, wipe clean and  let it dry, sandpaper it again wipe and apply a layer of milk, and let it dry.
Create an  image onto wood using tusche in liquid and stick form and litho crayons and pencils I have heard that you can also use Sharpie oil based markers and Sakura ‘solid’ markers.  It's OK to do a pale lightweight pencil drawing first and then go over it, with litho pencils sticks crayons etc   Brush on the ink quickly to prevent little liquid pools of liquid  forming.
Above: Caroline Whitehead (Mokulito)
When you are finished with the drawing, give a very fine dusting of talcum powder to the plate). Then sponge on the liquid gum Arabic or it can be applied with a wide bristled brush all over the surface of the plate.
To process: allow the gum Arabic to dry for a few hours (2 hours absolute minimum)  or preferably overnight.
M is for my Mokulito ( Making Lithograph prints using wood as a matrix)
In the meantime you can get all your paper cut for proofing.  You could also get the ink prepared.
REMOVE the gum Arabic layer by gently going over the entire plate with water using a sponge.
To print, you can use etching or litho ink. It's important that the ink be VERY loose.
It is ‘advised’ that one should use a foam roller from a DIY home decorating store.
Above:Danielle Creenaume (Mokulito)
I plan on trying to use my speedball soft rubber rollers first, in the hopes that it will suffice.
PRINTING UPApparently the inked plate  can be printed on either an etching or relief press using oil based relief ink.    Sponge in between printing your proofs to keep the plate wet.
I would start of course by just getting the hang of the process itself and thereafter make more plates with different images and then interplay/ interlayer them.
M is for my Mokulito ( Making Lithograph prints using wood as a matrix)
I am not entirely sure but it seems you can also add watercolour paint to the wooden plate, after you have inked it and before taking a proof.(Having said this - one wouldn't be even entertaining this idea until one had 'nailed' the process step by step(typical me trying to run before I can walk!!

I have also read that you can, of course, carve onto the wooden plate as well.
One thing I am wondering about is whether it will be possible to do that gum Arabic photocopy(or later print) transfer process onto the wooden plate?
Kathryn Desforges "tree stump" mokulito
Actually I came across an article/tutorial on Kate Desforges website  about making ‘gum Arabic litho transfer paper’ and that sound very interesting so I would have to try that as well once I got to grips with the basic process.
M is for my Mokulito ( Making Lithograph prints using wood as a matrix)
You can see the  grain of the wood  in the background of prints, with every subsequent proof it will appear stronger.  One needs to bear in mind that the tonal value will gradually disappear. Having said all of this Y you  get will get a series of B.A.T. prints.  It seem that it is only possible to get about 8 to 10 prints with this process.  Given that I mainly don’t work in editions - that suits me fine.
Above: Elly Prestegård who works in a range of techniques including (as here) Mokulito.
Go treat yourself and take a visit to Elly's will enjoy it.
There is an Article on Danielle Creenaumes Mokulito studio exploits in the latest issue of the magazine  

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