Something big was going on last Friday. The supermoon sliced three quarters off the giant celestial cake and the total Eclipse was followed by the beginning of astronomical spring. We couldn´t have chosen a more perfect time for the start of our new project. Ahead of us lay a ride crossing borders of various kinds.
We expected the lith-print workshop, held at the Oświęcim studio of our friends from the Cracow Akademia Anima Mundi, to be a stunning ride. However, what we did not expect was to turn from passive observers to active participants. The mission was clear – venite, videte, recordete – to come, quietly observe and shoot a short reportage from the workshop.
„It is early Saturday morning and the centre of Oświęcim is heavily lit by the Sun poking its rays out in full force after yesterday’s Eclipse. We can sense a gentle hustle and bustle inside the studio. After entering we get surrounded by a whirl of smiling men and women, and suddenly we find ourselves in the kitchenette smelling of fresh coffee, baguettes, homemade cherry jam and other delicacies. From the first moment we felt very welcome. Apart from the teacher Piotrek, there is a bunch of kindred spirits from Anima Mundi, the rest of the group is formed of participants and our small crew led by Tom Hudeček aka RED, the camera guy from Ostrava.“
„After Piotr´s introduction and his encouraging words that „lith-print is actually an easy technique,“ we start laying the tables with magic kit; some trays contain special lithographic developer, others fixer and water. After that it all goes like clockwork. The cameraless part of our crew, including myself, is unexpectedly encouraged by the organizers to join the working group. Slightly trembling, in a white apron and latex gloves, I lean over a red tray waiting to see what will happen …“
There is no need to give details of what followed next. You will see everything in our repartage. Lith-print is a creative and exciting technique. It attracts playful individuals who are keen on experimenting and do not mind tedious and monotonous process of moving the tray with developer until the photo paper reveals first hints of the image. Lithprint is a synonym for an uncertain result. It is a technique that tests your patience. There is a saying ‚Patience is passion tamed‘. And lithprint is a passion. It embraces something fetishistic. You cannot work with tongs, so there is an intensive hand contact with the paper and developer throughout the whole process. Beginners are cautious at first, but most would take their gloves off in the mid-course and plunge their fingers carelessly in a chemical bath. Although lith-print is an easy technique it is essential to be precise and clean. Nail scratches, fingerprints or hair can ruin your work. You should be also able to recognize the moment (‚snatch point‘) when the print in the developer reaches an optimum point. Toning that follows the developing process resembles alchemy. Selen, gold or sepia add attractive colors to the prints.
It takes a lot of time time and patience to discover the right combinations of papers, toners and developers. However, if you manage to tame your artistic passion there will come a harvest of unique, soft and colorful fruits of your efforts.
Thank you Anima Mundi and Piotr Kwasizur for enabling us to be part of this joyful and magic experience!
Examples of lith-prints by Piotr Kwasizur:
Reportage from the lith-print workshop in Žirovnice:
Thanks to Alina Ostrowská and Joanna Janisiewicz for providing photos in the article.