Friday, October 3, 2014

Photo based polymer plate etching - small format

Single colour (black ink) print on white rag paper. Plate size is 8.25 x 10 cm (3.25 x 4 inches).                     Hand colouring will be added later to the image

I am currently translating a handful of photographs that I have taken over the past couple of years to intaglio prints on paper. This is part of my Small Wonders of the Boreal series of studies that examine flora and fauna of the region.

I am adapting the photos onto a thin light sensitive solar plates. I have cut the plates to a variety of small rectangles and squares that fall into the classification of miniature. First thing I do is resize my original photos (stored digitally on my pc) and using photo editing software convert this to grayscale. This is then printed onto a high quality inkjet transparency sheet using the grayscale (black ink only) setting and at 600 dpi. I call this transparency in grayscale a positive. The concept is simple. The ink printed from the inkjet printer creates opaque areas on the clear film. These will block out UV light and no chemical reaction will occur in the light sensitive polymer where it cannot penetrate. The polymer will be able to be removed from these areas using water and some scrubbing.

the original colour photo that I took of a pair of Bobcats in the winter snow

The plate has a very fine aquatint screen pre-exposed for a couple of minutes to the surface using an ultraviolet light source (ie. sunlight or articficially created from aquarium lighting). This is followed by a 3 min. exposure of the positive. The plate is developed using lukewarm water in a pan and gentle scrubbing with a soft bristle toothbrush. I then re-expose the plate to the UV light for about 10 min to harden the polymer and make it permanent.

I applied Caligo safewash carbon black to the plate and wiped it back with a bundle of tartalan fabric. Then I polished the surface using yellow pages from an old phone book. A piece of Canson Ed. 250 gm white rag was presoaked and blotted. The inked plate was printed onto the paper using my small hand turned etching press.

The next step will be to apply colouring into the print once the ink has fully dried (perhaps a week from now).

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