Solarplate Online How to:

Step One – Prepare Artwork


Artwork may be created with liquid opaque paint or ink, light-stopping making devices, rubylith films, lithographic crayons and certain black pencils (Stabilo 8046), or found objects. Photographic images can be created on transparent acetate, mylar, or compatible film for your inkjet or laser printer or photo copier. Glass surfaces are also very suitable, however plexi tends to resist UV light and is unpredictable. This “transparency” is used as a contact positive or negative for either intaglio or relief. Artwork can be created by hand drawing, computer printout, or with photographic methods.

Step Two – Expose plate to UV light


When exposing with the sun, set up your Solarplate indoors, and away from direct sunlight. If the artworks contains large areas of black, subtle grays, or is photographic, it is advisable to use the aquatint screen and do the “Double Exposure Technique.”

Before exposing make certain to REMOVE THE PLASTIC COVER SHEET FROM THE SOLARPLATE. Place the Aquatint Screen, emulsion (matt side) face down, in direct contact with the plate. Sandwich the plate and screen between thick plate glass and a foam cushion on a flat, rigid board. Clamp the entire unit together in the center and expose it to the sun perpendicular to the rays. Best results are achieved at noontime in strong sunlight, an average time would be 45 seconds for the aquatint screen in northeast United States summertime. Once the plate has been exposed to the screen, bring the entire unit indoors and replace the screen with the artwork. The exposure is repeated with the artwork replacing the screen. General exposing times will work around 25 seconds, however the time may differ according to the density of the art. Delicate art might be 10 seconds, whereas more intense work would be 30 seconds or more.

When exposing with artificial light, exposure times will vary according to the wattage and type of UV bulbs and the distance from the light to the plate surface. When using the lights manufactured by us, the exposure times reflect the same times as with the sun.

NOTE: The darker or more dense the transparency—the longer the exposure; The lighter or more delicate the transparency—the shorter the exposure.

REMEMBER: Keep the aquatint exposure with your time consistent. For darker results DECREASE the art exposure time; for lighter results; increase your exposure time.


Step Three – Rinse plate in water

WASH OUT (etching)

The washout process is a substitution for the “etch” process In traditional Intaglio. Cool water is used instead of acid. Gently, scrub the entire image with a soft Solarplate brush for about 1 minute for the double exposure; two minutes or longer for a single exposure (without the screen), or 5-10 minutes for a relief plate. During the washout, the image will be removed from the surface, creating an intaglio surface. You can control the washing time and stop at any desired moment. After completing the washout, quickly blot with newsprint or phone book pages.

Step Four – Harden plate


Post Expose the plate for 5-10 minutes; longer post exposure will not harm the image

Step Five – Filing the plate

Before inking, eliminate the sharp corners of the plate with a file and remove the burr from the steel backing.

Step Six – Print plate


Printing may be done in either relief or intaglio. Plate thickness is less than standard zinc or copper and presses should be adjusted accordingly. Although hand printing may be accomplished by traditional rubbing techniques, a press is more desirable for ease, consistency and quality. Any quality printmaking paper may be used.

The ease in inking is enhanced by using a magnetic vinyl under the Solarplate. The steel backed Solarplate stays put on the magnet making the wiping or rolling action extremely simple.