02 August, 2007

Nik Semenoff's palm press


My name is Nik Semenoff and you may have heard of the dry copier toner process for lithography that I perfected in 1985. I demonstrated it at the 1990 Tamarind Symposium in Albuquerque, NM and sense that it is now being used by many of the more advanced printmakers. In 1990, I found a process that allows printers to make waterless litho plates from common aluminium plates by using ordinary caulking silicone. This method has become the basis of all the non-commercial processes being taught at workshops around the world. Waterless lithography seems to be gaining acceptance amongst printmakers, but from the feedback I am getting, some instructors are not teaching the best methods, or recommending the proper materials. The papers you can download from this web site, are the most recent developments at my studio, and are designed for reliability and simplicity.

The original website is now apparently offline, so here it is on internet archives


Making a Palm Press
Printing lithographs and monoprints without a press
Nik Semenoff

Concept behind the Palm Press

Rubbing the back of a sheet of paper pressed to an inked surface has been used for centuries, but the Japanese have carried the technique to great heights in their woodcut prints by using a baren made from a bamboo leaf over a braided core. Wooden spoons and other items have been used by contemporary block printers to print their editions, but the Japanese baren is still the preferred choice of printing small woodcuts. It has been duplicated in plastic and assembly of metal balls, but the traditional bamboo baren cannot be beaten for delicacy in printing. Unfortunately this tool cannot produce enough pressure for any printing any media other than woodcuts. The Japanese technique of using thin waterleaf paper and waterbased ink allows for a softer gentler application of pressure to give complete control of transfer of ink to paper.


Using this innovation

My practice is not to patent any of my developments, but make them available to the printmaking community free of charge. By putting this innovation into public domain, I, nor anyone else can now patent the palm press. My daughter Sasha disclosed the palm press at the Southern Graphic Council conference in Miami in March of 2000. She demonstrated how it could be used in a high school art classes as another printmaking media. By using water-soluble ink and recycling of plates, waterless lithography's more direct approach to image making can have a major impact in teaching art.


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