The Senefelder Club of the North Country

  The home of "The Senefelder Club of the North Country." In December, 2013, a build-up of snow and ice came sliding down off the metal roof and took out the chimney and four windows. The windows have now been replaced but the chimney is waiting on a contractor. 

The home of "The Senefelder Club of the North Country." In December, 2013, a build-up of snow and ice came sliding down off the metal roof and took out the chimney and four windows. The windows have now been replaced but the chimney is waiting on a contractor. 

The original Senefelder Club was formed in London, England, in 1909, with the intention of reviving lithography as an artistic medium and to honor the man who invented the lithographic process in 1798, Alois Senefelder.

In adding "of the North Country" to the name of his printing and publishing efforts, Roger Bailey intends to contribute to the advancement of both lithography and intaglio processes of fine art printing, particularly in the up-state regions of New York known as the North Country.

Roger Bailey's print studio is located in a 140 year old barn, near Canton, NY. 

For the Person Who Wants to Know What Is Involved in Printing a Lithograph

In collaborating with Jack Beal and Sondra Freckelton on the lithographs, the work generally went as follows: Bailey grained several lithographic stones, and gummed out the margins to define the image areas. The stones were protected and delivered to the artist's home and studio, 220 miles away on the Delhi Stage Road, near Oneonta, NY

Over the next month or two, Jack and Sondra each developed a drawing on their stone using greasy lithographic crayons or liquid tusche. When the drawings were completed, and as their schedules allowed, Jack and Sondra headed to the North Country with the litho stones.

Following an initial discussion about their work, Bailey processed the drawings with a mild etch of nitric acid in a gum arabic solution. The following day, with the stone moved to the litho press, Bailey applied a fresh layer of gum, washed out the image with lithotine, applied a rub-up solution of asphaltum and rolled-up the stone in black ink. At this point newsprint proofs were pulled, revealing the image reversed from the original drawing. The stone was again given a light etch and gummed down and put away for an indefinite period of time. At this point the artists might pack up their belongings, with newsprint proofs in hand, say their good-byes and return to Oneonta.

  The print studio. A Rembrandt etching press on the right, and a motorized Dickerson combination lithography and etching press in the back. Modest equipment but it does the job.

The print studio. A Rembrandt etching press on the right, and a motorized Dickerson combination lithography and etching press in the back. Modest equipment but it does the job.

Over the next few days, Bailey's job was to pull trial proofs on several different printing papers. Some time later, these trial proofs were delivered to Jack and Sondra and the artists inspected the trial proofs, one of which would be selected and marked "B.A.T.," meaning "Bon à Tirer" or "Good to Pull." Any other instructions and suggestions, including the size of the edition to be printed, would be conveyed and discussed at that time.

Ideally, when processing a stone and especially in pulling an edition of lithographs, the artist serves as printer's assistant. 

Pulling the edition of lithograph prints involves tearing printing paper to the correct dimension; dampening the paper between blotters, under light pressure and over-night; preparing the press with limit marks; working up ink on the glass slab; getting the leather roller in proper condition; greasing the tympan; adjusting scraper bar pressure; preparing sponges and dampening water; re-gumming the stone; washing out the image; rubbing-up with asphaltum; and then, the essence of the lithographic process, slowly inking the stone, careful to keep a thin layer of water on the stone.

As the printer rolls ink onto the stone, the film of water protects the non-image areas on the stone while the artist's greasy drawing accepts the ink. Pressure is increased slowly,  three or four prints are pulled on newsprint as “proofs” until the blacks look rich and the subtlest grays are holding. With the B.A.T. tacked up near-by as the quality standard, each edition print is pulled on fine paper and inspected against the B.A.T.

  It all looks clean and organized at the moment. It's great to have the light, and the view, and some solar heat energy, and plenty of room to lay out prints.

It all looks clean and organized at the moment. It's great to have the light, and the view, and some solar heat energy, and plenty of room to lay out prints.

The process is repeated again and again: dampen the stone, roll on the ink, place the printing paper on the stone, drop the backing sheets and the greased tympan, bring the pressure bar down, roll the stone through the press, pull off the tympan and backing sheets, gently lift the print, inspect it, get back to the stone to dampen it and repeat the cycle to the end of the edition.

Both Jack and Sondra have at times worked as printer's assistants and undoubtedly gained a greater sensitivity to the unique qualities of stone lithography, and that experience is revealed in the quality of the finished prints. It means a lot to have a good person as the printer's assistant, especially handling the sponge. The overall process is not that much different than the way Alois Senefelder did it 230 years ago. It is however, a very different process from a "giclée" print. "Giclée" is French for "ink jet." Enough said about that?