Solarplate Online How to:


Step One – Prepare Artwork      


Artwork may be created in may ways.   

  1. Directly on the Solarplate with mark making materials.  This is the easiest way and will acquaint you with the process…Draw with non-water soluble materials such as Litho crayons, etching inks, oil paint, Stabilo 8046 pencils, wax shoe polish and anything that is opaque.  You can also use objects, string, yarn, rubber bands, lace, leaves, cheesecloth but try and keep the same material height or thickness throughout.  Creat a sandwich with objects, placing thick glass on top and clamping.  
  2. Work indirectly using film, acetate or glass.  Films, such as mylar come clear and frosted…either material works however frosted mylar will hold drawings best, whereas clear mylar can be used for liquids such as paints and india ink.  Try 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 from your inkjet, laser printer or photo copier. Frosted or ‘Grained Glass’ surfaces are also very suitable. (See enclose article on Grained Glass) Avoid plexi since it 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, 3/4″ rigid board.  Clamp the entire unit together in the center of each side and expose to the sun making certain that it faces and is perpendicular to the rays. Best results are achieved between noontime and 2 PM with strong sunlight.The average time would be 3 minutes for the aquatint screen. 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 two and a half minutes, however the time may differ according to the density of the art. Delicate art might be shorter, whereas more intense work would be longer.

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 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 “Deep Printing” (Intaglio). Ordinary cool tap water is used instead of acid. Gently, scrub the entire image with a soft Solarplate brush for about 1 minute on an 8×10 plate with the double exposure; two minutes or longer for a single exposure (without the screen), or 5-10 minutes for a very ‘DEEP’ bite plate. 

During the washout, the image will be removed from the surface, creating a deeper area. You may not witness anything until the blotting.   After completing the washout, quickly blot with newspaper or phone book at lease three times. 

Step Four – Harden plate


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

Step Five – File the corners of the plate

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

Step Six – Print plate


Printing may be done in either HIGH PRINTING (relief) or (DEEP PRINTING) intaglio. Plate thickness is less than standard zinc or copper and presses should be adjusted accordingly. Although hand printing may sometimes 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.