Cathie Crawford - Artist / Relief Printmaker

What is Mokulito

Mokulito is lithography done on wood instead of the traditional Bavarian limestone.  Seishi Ozaku invented Mokurito in Japan in the 1970s.  Moku in Japanese means wood and rito is short for lithographic.   (Don't know why Westerners dropped the "r" and made it Mokulito.)  Josef Budka and his daughter Ewa in Poland made advances in the technique more recently.   Lithography works on the principle that oil and water will always repel one another.  The drawing is made with greasy drawing materials just like traditional lithography. However Mokulito is much less stable and less predictable than traditional lithography and the edition will be small and variable.


I concentrated on Lithography for many years before rediscovering the woodcut in graduate school.  I missed the drawing quality of litho crayons and the beautiful washes created with lithographic tusche.  I wanted to get some of the drawn qualities of Lithography into my woodcut prints.


My first attempt was disappointing.  I made the drawing with only litho pencil and litho crayon.  I later found out this is not the best choice. The first impression was true to the drawing but unfortunately I printed on proofing paper.  The second print filled in and after that they just kept getting lighter and less detailed.


What I learned after the fact.

  1. Don’t use litho pencils or crayons.  Sharpies or Sakura oil based markers and lithographic tusche work better.
  2. Add tannic acid to the Gum Arabic for a second "etch" (50% of each)
  3. Allow to sit for a day or a week or longer after applying the Gum Arabic.
  4. Bring the drawing up slowly when printing.  I applied too many rolls for the first impression. (I didn't think the ink was really sticking to the drawing)
  5. Change water frequently.  The printing process is very messy. I also used a spray bottle for applying water to the wood.
  6. Expect a variable small edition.
  7. Go with what you get.  Expect surprises. 

There are several good YouTube videos on the Mokulito process.


I received much good advice from Austrian printmaker, Bernhard Cociancig.  He has done extensive tests on various materials.

Also learned from the blog of a Norwegian printmaker, Elly Prestegard and the blog of Australian printmaker, Aine Scannell who referred me to a wonderful article in Pressing Matters on the work of another Australian printmaker, Danielle Creenaune.

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