Kitchen Lithography

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A sketchily drawn print of a jar of olives
An example of a print using pencil

Kitchen Lithography is a type of printmaking that is a nontoxic and more accessible alternative to traditional lithography. It uses cola to etch aluminum foil.


  • Coca-Cola (or any other cola)
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Some sort of plate to wrap foil around
  • Oil based ink (Litho or etching ink)
  • Optional: Magnesium carbonate or cornstarch to stiffen ink
  • Plexiglass to roll out ink
  • Brayer
  • Paintbrush
  • Sharpie (or pastels, crayons, pencil, fingers, anything oily/waxy)
  • Sponge/paper towels
  • Printing press (or a wooden spoon or another brayer)
  • Paper

Preparing the plate:

First, you need to wrap your foil around the plate. It is very important that you do not touch the dull side of the foil even with gloved hands. The dull side of the foil should face outward on the plate as this is what you will draw on. Getting the plate slightly damp makes the foil stick to the plate as you wrap the sides around. Tape also works but water does the job just as well with less hassle.

Drawing your image:

Next, you have to draw your image with sharpie or anything oily or waxy. You can even add fingerprints. Remember that the final image will be mirrored so any text has to be backwards. If you are using sharpie, wait a minute or two for it to dry.

Kitchen litho print showing the different mark-making options: sharpie, crayon, oil pastel, 8B pencil, HB pencil, fingerprints. Sharpie is the darkest and the pencils are the lightest.
Material options for drawing on your plate
A pencil drawing of an olive jar on the foil plate
A pencil drawing on the foil plate


Prepare a bath of coca-cola. Submerge your plate in it. When the cola is fresh it will only need a few seconds but it might start needing more time as you use the cola. While the plate is still in the bath, use the paintbrush to very gently go across the whole surface of the plate. This ensures that the cola etches everywhere you want it. Take the plate out of the cola and rinse it off a few times with water.


Roll out a slab of ink on the plexiglass with the brayer. For better results, thicken the ink by adding about 1/3 cornstarch or magnesium carbonate to the ink by volume. The ink should have a velvet texture. If it looks like an orange peel it is too thick. Next, wipe down your plate with a damp paper towel or sponge. It shouldn't be dripping but there should be water everywhere. You can tell because when the foil is slightly wet it is a lighter color. Quickly, before it dries, ink up the plate a couple times. Then add more water and then more ink and repeat quite a few times until the ink has built up. The first print will likely be pretty light and then you can go back and add more ink and they will get darker.


To use the Makerspace printing press, make sure that there are enough boards or sheets of paper raising the surface of the bed of the press so that when you place your plate down, it is level with the edge. Place your paper over your plate and then a piece of felt, and then roll the roller over your print. There should be enough pressure that you need to use a little effort to get the roller over the plate but not so much that the wood of the roller bends.