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• 3/8" Float Glass (seamed- smoothed edges) or Frosted Mylar for a printing surface (mylar should be attached to compressed cardboard or a mounting/illustration board with 3M 66 or 77 spray adhesive)
• 3/8" Plexiglass - used with 3/8" glass to aid in inking up
• 3/8" Masonite Board - used to surround the glass plate when printing
• Steel Muller
• Etching Press
• 100 Grit Carborundum
• Daniel Smith 100 Litho Black Ink
• Magnesium Carbonate
• Ink Knife
• Rubber Rollers/Brayers - size depends on printing plate size
Gloves (solvent resistant)
• Basin of water or sink
• Sponges
• Acetone
• 100% Silicone Sealant
• Synthetic Turpentine (T.R.P.S.)
• Foam Brushes
• Blow Dryer
• Armour-All
• Kim Wipes

For Image Creation:

Any Water Soluble Media
No. 1-3 Litho Crayons

-- Watercolor pencils
-- Stablio Pencils (water soluble)
-- Water colors
-- Water soluble graphite pencils
-- Gouache (add Kodak Photo Flow or Simple Green to break surface tension - creates good reticulations)

Any Acetone/Solvent Media
-- Sharpie Markers
-- Ballpoint pens
-- Spray Paint

Vitreography Demonstration
by Mark Mahaffey, Master Printer
2134 NW Hoyt Street, Portland, OR 97210 USA
503-295-6666 -- 503-295-2553 fax <mfaprints@aol.com>

Demonstrated at Barbara Mason's studio,
near Portland, Oregon -- November 14, 1999

  1. Preparing Your Image Support
  2. Preparing Your Image
  3. Processing Your Image
  4. Inking Your Image
  5. Printing Your Vitreograph
  6. Adjusting Your Image
  7. Color Monotypes and Vitreography
  8. Clean Up
  9. Examples of Vitreographs printed by Mahaffey Fine Art

Click on each thumbnail for a larger image

Preparing Your Image Support

You can use either 3/8" float glass or frosted Mylar as your image support. The float glass should be grained similar to a litho stone, using 100 grit carborundum and a steel muller. Once mulled to an even texture, flush the surface with vinegar and water.

If you are using frosted Mylar it should be attached to a piece of compressed cardboard or mounting/illustration board or some other smooth surface (slightly larger than your image) using 3M 66 or 77 spray adhesive. Make sure the frosted side is up. Attach the Mylar to the mounting board AFTER your create and process your image (the following steps...).


Preparing Your Image

Using either the 3/8" float glass or frosted Mylar, you can draw your image with any water soluble, re-wettable media. No. 1-3 litho crayons, water color pencils, Stabilo water soluble pencils, India ink, water colors, gouache (mix with either Kodak Photo Flow or Simple Green, creates a reticulation). You can also draw with Sharpie markers, spray paint or any media soluble with acetone or thinner.


Processing Your Image

Make a 50/50 mixture of 100% Silicone sealant and Synthetic Turpentine (T.R.P.S.). It should be the consistency of corn syrup.

Using a foam brush, cover the entire image support with the silicone solution. Wipe the surface with Kim Wipes and buff until tight and smooth. Be sure to clean the edges of the glass before buffing or you will smear more silicone onto the surface.

This should be set aside to dry for 8 hours. If using glass, you can bake in an oven for 1 hour at 150 degrees to throughly dry the silicone solution.


When dry, place the glass in a plastic tub of warm soap and water. Wipe the surface of the glass with a sponge until all the pigment washes out.


If you used non-water based materials for your imagery, use acetone or thinner with a Kim Wipe to remove this pigment. If you used a combination of both media do one step after the other. Be sure to wear solvent resistan gloves and work in a well ventilated area and/or wear a respirator.

Your glass image support should be fairly clear and free of pigment.


Inking Your Image

Prior to inking you want to create matrix around your glass plate using 3/8" plexiglass. Tape the plexiglass together using clear packaging tape. Doing this will prevent damage to the your roller, no edges to catch the roller on.


Use Daniel Smith 100 Black Lithography Ink mixed with magnesium carbonate (mag/talc). You want the ink to be very stiff and short.


Ink the plate up slowly and in many directions, usually one pass in each direction.



Printing Your Vitreograph

Your etching press should already be set to the correct height for printing the 3/8" support. A large sheet of 3/8" masonite is used as a surround for the 3/8" glass plate. This prevents the roller on the press from catching an edge and shattering the glass. You want to double and triple check that the surface of the press bed is absolutely clean, smooth and free of any small bits of dirt, paper, grit, etc.


Use T and Bar registration so that you can center your paper over your image. The masonite frame should have horizontal and vertical center marks on it. Then, make corresponding marks (bars) on the back of your printing paper.


Your first proof should be taken on newsprint.



Roll up your image again and proof once more on newsprint.



The next print can be pulled on good paper, Rives BFK or any other etching paper. Paper can be dry or dampened.


Adjusting Your Image

You can make changes to your image on the fly be scratching into and or removing some of the silicone surface. You may do this with sandpaper, steel wool, etching needles, diamond head tools, just about anything sharp or with an edge.

Color Monotypes and Vitreography

So far, we've seen only black and white imagery. Vitreography is anything but that. You can experiment with color combinations quite easily using a monoprint technique.


Once you have your black key plate processed the way you want it, you can begin working on color plate. Simply place a clean piece of ground 3/8" float glass on top of your key plate. You can see your key plate through the glass and begin adding color to it on your second piece of glass.

If you want to experiment with colors there is no need to process the color plate. Simply use water color pencil, water color paint or gouage on the color plate(s). Two color plates and a black plate were used in the demonstration, see photos below.

You must use dampened paper in order to do this. Also, have your black key plate inked up and ready to go before you print your color plate.

Place your color plate in your masonite printing frame on the press, place the damp paper on top, run it through the press. Be sure to use a long enough paper so that you can trap it in the press.

Remove the color plate, insert the black plate, drop the paper and blankets and print again.




Once you are happy with your color combinations, you can re-color the color plates and process them with the silicon solution, making them a permanent plate that can be inked up in any color you want, not just the color you experimented with.

Clean Up

Once you're finished printing clean up your plates with salad oil (for oil based ink). If you want to erase the image on a plate, use synthetic turpentine to remove the silicone.

Examples of Vitreographs Printed by Mahaffey Fine Arts

Prints show are by Boston painter Aaron Fink
represented by the Alysia Duckler Gallery, Portland, OR





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