Lithography is a printing process in which a design is sketched with an oily ink or a lithographic crayon on a flat, smooth stone; a clean impression is then made by pressing a sheet of paper against the surface of the stone and running the whole through a press.
The German actor and playwright Alois Senefelder invented lithography is 1796. Here are the series of events that led him to inventing lithography:
- He created an ink that was composed of wax, soap and lampblack (powdered black soot) which he used to write on metal and stone plates.
- After polishing a stone plate, his mother had asked him to write down a bill for the washerwoman but he did not have any spare paper. He then proceeded to write on the polished stone plate with the ink that he had created.
- Later, he added a wax border around the edges of the stone plate upon which he had just written on and he added a mixture of one part of nitric acid and ten parts of water on the surface of the stone plate. He left the solution standing for five minutes and noticed the ink did not wash away and that he could take impressions of it.
- He repeated the process with another stone plate and he then applied printing ink on the stone using a thin board covered with fine cloth.
- He was then able to take impressions of his work onto paper.
Here is a lithograph of Alois Senefelder:
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