Mokulito (Wood Lithography) Printmaking
Printmaking mash-ups appeal to my experiment-loving, nerd-artist’s heart. In a previous series of blog posts this season (like this cat and tulip print), I relished mixing linocut with drypoint engraving. (More of those are coming soon.)
And then, I took a wood lithography workshop – also known as Mokulito – with master printmaker Jeff Sippel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Screech the tires, bang a sharp right, and forge a new path with the Art Car!
Learning a brand new printmaking method that I’ve been scratching my head to comprehend has ignited a barn fire on a windy day in my brain. I’m practically obsessed.
What is Mokulito?
The Japanese word Mokulito translates roughly to Wood Lithography. Are you familiar with Mokulito? Have you ever seen a print up close?
Mokulito is a lithographic printmaking process that uses a wooden plate instead of the traditional stone or metal to print from.
Instead of grabbing litho crayons and tusches to draw and paint on stone, we used heavy body acrylic paint and gum arabic to build imagery on wood.
Basically, your acrylic painting becomes the printmaking matrix, because altered printmaking inks will stick to the acrylic. The ink will repel the prepared, wet wood. As a lovely bonus, you can also carve into the wood to print relief style, like a woodcut. The combination of possibilities in your design are incredibly exciting to ponder.
No Two Mokulito Prints are Alike
Mokulito Editions are small and variable, but I loved experimenting with drawing on wood with different acrylic pens, and alternating veils of acrylic paint to suss out halftones, and reveal printable woodgrain in the final prints.
Adding Monotype to Mokulito Prints
During the workshop, Jeff Sippel printed a variety of lovely mokulito demos to help us understand the process for image building and the patience required to properly ink the plates.
After his prints were dry, he also over-printed a transparent monotype on a portion of the finished mokulito print, which adjusted section of the values magically. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. It was such an AHAAAH-moment! More printmaking mash-ups!
- Mokulito was invented in the 1970’s, in the studio of Ozaku Seishi, a printmaking professor who was frustrated about students who learned stone lithography in college, but rarely returned to it because they had no access to litho stones, presses, and all the accouterments required to make the prints.
- Recently, Polish printmaker Ewa Budka and her father have worked to fine-tune and demystify the Mokulito process with demo videos and workshops.
- Don Messec’s Making Art Safely workshops in Santa Fe New Mexico are fantastic! You can read an interview with Don here.
- Master Printmaker Jeff Sippel’s work is ethereal and painterly, and his printmaking workshops are stuffed with practical information about process, supplies, methods, and printmaking mash-ups. Don’t miss an opportunity to study with him.
- Bernhard Cociancig has created some gorgeous mokulito prints, and he assembled and gives away a PDF download of supplies and methods that were the result of many experiments in his studio.
- There is a new Mokulito book out by printmaker Marta Sliwiak. It’s published in both Polish and English in the same book. There are plenty of great photos and graphics to review her process too, which you can peruse here.
More Mokulito to Come
My studio is a vortex of wood boards, sandpaper, acrylic paint, sponges and print experiments drying on a line. I’m smitten with wood lithography mokulito, and if you’re interested in seeing more, let me know in the comments. You can subscribe to this blog to get each post via email here.
What are you printing or painting this season? Just say hello. I always love hearing from you.
Until the next post, make something soon –
P.S. Do you know about the Association of Print Scholars?
I liked to draw . . . also adventure in the woods mostly by myself. I was especially fond of kites and swimming. As an older boy, I did not have much schooling, but I learned what education I have from reading books, listening to conversation and traveling.Printmaker Dox Thrash (1893-1965)