Lithography


The word lithography is composed of the Greek terms “Lithos” which means “stone” and “graphia” which means drawing. Therefore, lithography is a drawing technique, which during its beginnings consisted of stamping a text or drawing on a stone or metal plate. The person who devised this technique was the German-born typesetter Aloys Senefelder in the year 1796.

At first, lithographic printing was carried out in the following way: the image was drawn on the stone, which was generally limestone. Subsequently, the image was covered with a thin layer of nitritic acid and gum arabic, which is immediately repelled by the drawn parts, because they are not compatible. The stone is immediately inked, making sure that only the drawn area is impregnated with ink, thanks to the natural adherence between fatty substances. Finally, a sheet of paper is pressed on the lithographic stone, to obtain the impression of the drawing.

Another characteristic of the characteristics of this technique is that for each color used, it is necessary to use a different stone and, obviously, the paper must be moved through the printing press as many times as inks are used. On the other hand, in lithographic images, the letters cannot be removed, much less reused elsewhere, since they are unique and require redrawing for each use.

Currently this technique is no longer used much and is only used in the reproduction of artistic works. When newspapers and other publications appeared, flexible sheets of zinc, aluminum and, lately, plastic began to be used, thus replacing the heavy lithographic stones.

Graphic arts companies today are still called lithographs.