Thursday, October 1, 2009

Applying colour into a solar plate print

Lichen Formation
solar plate print with hand colour
edition size of 40

I finally got around to applying a bit of colour to this work which was originally featured back in my Feb. postings (without any colour application). This was derived from a photo I took and that was converted to a positive transparency and exposed onto a solar plate. Using my homemade UV exposure unit I used a two step process where the plate was first pre-exposed for about 3 minutes to a fine dot aquatint screen followed by an equal length exposure of the grayscale positive. Both the screen and the transparency positive were sandwiched tightly under a 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick piece of clear glass on top of the plate which was set on a dense piece of foam and wooden baseboard using plastic shop spring clamps.
The plate was developed using tepid water in a photo developing tray and using gentle scrubbing of the polymer surface with a soft bristle tooth brush.

It was then blotted quickly with newsprint and dried with warm air from a portable hand held hair dryer. The polymer was then set under the unit for about 10 min for a post exposure to cure (or harden) the surface coating.

I then inked the plate as you would a traditional etching and using Graphic Chemical Intense black oil base ink printed it into a slightly damp piece of Somerset Velvet 250 gsm off white rag paper.

The print was adhered onto a piece of board using gum backed butchers tape. I had set some aside into a storage bin in the studio and a few days back rediscovered those so decided to apply hand tint into the piece by first wetting the areas to receive colour and then allowing watercolour wash to bleed into the white areas of the paper to apply the colour tint effect.


  1. What a beautiful piece! The colour addition turned out very well. Great subtlety yet very powerful.
    Lichens have always held fascination for me too and I have many photos of them. They're like little universes and the one in your image looks very much like that. Almost galaxy-like...

  2. A great print. I haven't tried hand colouring my solar plate prints, but I will give it a go after seeing this....