Sunday, September 23, 2012

Solarplates Printmaking

I have started a new class this past week; Solarplate Etching Basics with AkuaKolor at the Pullen Park Arts Center.   The instructor is Gretchen Morrissey; you can see her work in the following link:
In this class we used solarplates for Relief and Intaglio printing techniques without the use of any chemicals.   This is very exciting because more and more printmakers are looking for alternative ways to print without chemicals and I am looking forward to learn those techniques.   I do all of my prints at home and I am for not using any harmful chemicals.  
The plates are made of light sensitive steel coded with polymer material and printing with them is an environmental way to create prints using Ultra Violet light (sun) and water instead of toxic materials such as ferrous chloride or nitric acid. 
The process is to expose the plate to an Ultra Violet light box or the sun and wash it with running water. That’s it!   We use the light box in the studio but we can also use the sun during a sunny afternoon.

The materials used are:
The plates
Packaged solarplates
Cut solarplates
Solarplate are kind of expensive so we cut them into smaller sizes.

An aquatint screen is used first to prepare the plate. It provides the dot pattern which is like a base in preparation for the second exposure of the art work.  More info on the aquatint screen in the link below:
Art work on transparency: you can use photos, digital images and even draw directly on transparency.
This technique offers a lot of flexibility; I used a picture I took during a trip to the beach as the image for my first print; it’s a green seaweed on the sand. I use India ink and a small brush and copied the image on the transparency.



We started with the Intaglio technique: the plate is first exposed to the light box with an aquatint sheet for 1 minute and then my art work on the transparency was then exposed for less than 1 minutes (depending on how much lights or darks are on the drawing).   If there are very light tones; the exposure must be shorter; I had some grays on my work so the exposure was around 50 seconds.
The plate is then washed with water and a soft brush, and dried with paper (old phone book paper or newsprint). The plate is exposed a second time for at least 10 minutes.   After the second exposure the plate is ready for inking and printing.
Plate after second exposure
Ready to ink
This has been our first day and next week we will ink and print the plate. More fun to come in the coming weeks; Stay tuned!  
I have included below a link to more information on the solorplate printing technique I found on the Internet:

Thanks for following Pascale's Studio!

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