Some of my students were curious about lo-shu washes, so I decided to try it out. This was a new process for me, but I followed the directions in the Tamarind book, and the results were great! A lo-shu was is a reversal wash — it is made by combining gum arabic and water. I tried 1 drop of gum arabic per 1 ounce of water and 2 drops of gum arabic per 1 ounce of water. I didn’t mix it together at all, just dropped the gum arabic into the water then the poured a voluminous puddle onto the plate. As this mixture dries, the gum arabic will settle onto the plate. Slow evaporation results in a reticulation pattern which blocks the ink from the plate. Below are step-by-step photos of the process.
Here is the plate after the Lo-Shu wash has dried. The red conte crayon acts as a kind of a resist — the water won’t spill over the edges, as long as you’re careful. The wash was puddled on quite generously — this allows for the reticulation patterns to appear.
In this detail, you can see the reticulation of the gum arabic.
I put the gum border on after the wash had dried. Now the plate is ready to roll up in ink.
First, I buffed in straight asphaltum. Then I let the plate sit for about 15 min.
After the asphaltum sat for 15 minutes, I cleaned it off with lithotine.
A tint base is established using a mixture of asphaltum and printing ink. I used 1/2 asphaltum and 1/2 Shop Mix Black.
The tint base is buffed in.
The tint base should be an even, thin coat.
The next step was to wash the gum arabic off with water. As soon as the gum arabic begins to dissolve the image of the lo-shu wash will begin to appear and ink should be rolled on immediately. As soon as the image appears and the black areas are “full” you can stop rolling ink onto the image. I etched the plate with a 50/50 etch (1/2 TAPEM, 1/2 Gum Arabic) over the entire plate for two minutes. Can’t wait to print it!