Printmaking 101: Solarplate

I have been noticing a lot more solarplates of late in the gallery, and so have visitors!  My number one question last month was, “What is a solarplate?”

Carolyn's Solarplate of the Wharf in the printeDCircuits portfolio, made from a photographic negative

A solarplate is a photo-sensitive etching process developed by Dan Welden, with whom many WPG artist have studied directly (Rosemary Cooley, for one).  Instead of using acid to etch a plate, a light-sensitive polymer backed by a steel plate is exposed to the sun (or other light source) and then rinsed with water.  Artists use either a photographic negative (like Carolyn Pomponio’s print to the left) or a black and white drawing on acetate or other clear material (like Matina’s print) to make their image.  Anywhere that isn’t exposed (the black parts of the drawing or negative) are washed away and create the traditional etching depressions that hold the ink.

"Foreseen," solarplate etching by Matina Marki Tillman.

As you can see from the two prints, solarplates can look very different!  Drawings, of course, will look different from photographic works, and then if an artist prints it in a special way (using two or more colors, for example) or combines it with other printing techniques (see some of the works by Terry Svat on our website) the possibilities become limitless.  We have two prints hanging in the members show this month that use Solarplate, and many more in the perusal bins.  Come in and see if you can find them!

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One response to “Printmaking 101: Solarplate

  1. I’d like to contact Carolyn Pomponio regarding here photos. edc