One of the great things about printmaking is that no matter how deep the roots go, there is always something new to stimulate your imagination. While technically not new, I thought that a little piece on Solar Plates and other photopolymer processes would be in order.
Those of you that have followed this blog probably recall that I mentioned after the SGC show up in Madison, WI, that I had Dan Welden as a house guest. Dan and I go back a long way, and it is great to see what Dan has done with Solar Plates.
Some techniques are very much like a flash in the pan. They're hot for a short period, and then gone. Solar Plates have proven to have staying power, having been around since about the 1970's. It is an affordable, quality technique that brings photo work to even the smallest of studios. Solar Plates are a light sensitive steel backed polymer material that offers alternatives to more traditional techniques for both etching and relief. Exposure is accomplished by almost any UV light source and developing uses ordinary tap water.
In general, a transparent film with artwork on it is used in the exposure - positive film for intaglio and negative film for relief printing.
While exposure time can and do vary with the intensity of the light source, a test strip can resolve that problem in short order. When using the sun as a light source, exposure times can vary as the day progresses. A traditional light source will be less subject to change.
Safety tests have shown Solar Plates to cause no harm to the human body when used under normal circumstances or conditions, but, as with any technique, you should always wear appropriate safety gear - particularly gloves and eye protection - and have adequate ventilationNeedless to say - at least I hope it is - Graphic Chemical & Ink carries all Solar Plate materials, including the Printmaking in the Sun DVD and book. If you are located in Europe or elsewhere that uses the format, we also have the DVD in PAL format. It's a must addition for any printmaking library. Please feel free to contact us regarding Solar Plate workshops. Dan puts on numerous workshops all over the world.