Solar Plate printmaking course
A couple of months ago I did a course at Leicester Print Workshop on Solar Plate printmaking (aka Photopolymer printmaking and photo etching) with Nick Mobbs. I have only just now started doing my own such printmaking and thought, before posting work-in-progress reports, I’d post a couple of pics and a few notes from the course.
We were sent the usual preparation sheet for the course and this contained the following summary:
Solar plate is a photo-etching process using photopolymer plates that are developed and ‘etched’ in water. Simpler than traditional photo-etching, the process captures very fine detail and can produce beautiful prints from photographic or drawn imagery. During this day course you will learn how to apply your design by exposing and developing the plate, then ink and print your own photo etchings.
and were asked to bring ‘a selection of black and white photocopies or computer prints of your subjects on acetate’. I edited half a dozen of the pics I took in Australia using Lightroom to turn them into black and white images of a quality I thought might print well then had these printed onto acetate at Staples in Loughborough (they did a good job on them).
The plates we used were A4-sized Toyobo Printight Solar Plates from Intaglio Printmaker: the ones with 0.73 mm polymer coating, I think.
Nick helped us choose images that would work and we then exposed everyone’s acetates onto two A4 plates (a two-stage process involving first exposing the whole plate to an ‘aquatint’ sheet then to the image acetates) using the LPW UV unit. Each plate was then developed in water at 22° C for 1-2 minutes, blotted with newsprint and then dried with a hairdryer after which we cut out our own plates using scissors and filed the edges down.
The inking and printing was then the same as for etching. The plates were cleaned afterwards in White Spirit and we then had time to expose and print another plate each.
My two plates were:
and the resulting images:
I was very pleased with the results of this course and think I’ve found a technique that fits well with my love of photography (not to mention my inability to draw) and the great satisfaction of getting inky with an etching plate.
Many thanks to Nick Mobbs for his excellent teaching on this course. I had a great time and learned much.