Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Solarplate intensive with Barbara Mason

This is a 5"x7" test solarplate intaglio printed on Rives Lightweight. The yellow stripe down towards the left is from the scanner (I despise this all-in-one scanner/printer/copier).

I got a RACC Professional Development grant to do 20 hours with Barbara Mason, and today was my first session. For the first session, I prepared several tests—

1. The above, which is collection of various line thicknesses from 0.5pt to 20pt, various fonts (serif, sans serif, italics, etc) at different sizes, ultra fine sharpie, fine sharpie, black oil pastel, brown oil pastel and gray oil pastel.

2. A sheet of mylar painted with ivory black at different density levels. We test printed just a small strip of this.

3. A sheet of mylar painted with an image in bone black (which is more transparent than ivory black). But this was NOT dry after 12 hours, so we did not test this today.

3. A high contrast photograph. We did not test this today, as the laser printer output showed a visible grid, which would image on the solarplate.

4. A low contrast photograph. We test printed just a small strip of this.

5. A B&W positive and negative of a painting. We test printed one of these, although I don't remember which.

Here are a couple of details. Again, the yellow stripe is from the scanner.

I'm pretty sure the fuzziness is from the wiping (this is intaglio and not relief printed). The Rives Lightweight gave the 'cleanest' print as far as the fine lines and texts go. Rives BFK was a little fuzzier (both of these were printed dampened). The Arches 88, printed dry, gave the fuzziest result. Although, both the Lightweight and the BFK showed the slight 'woven' pattern that is visible on the backs of these papers when unprinted, ie, the 'weave' became visible on the front of the paper in the print. And the ultra fine sharpie is barely visible at all.

I love the lines drawn with the oil pastels!

We're scheduled to meet next on Sunday, that will give me a chance to create a few images to print for real (rather than just tests). I'm thinking that I will do intaglio for the first half, and then relief for the 2nd half. I'll be trying the relief plates on the letterpress and also the sign printer that Catherine loaned me. (Yes, I just have all kinds of presses here, on loan from other artists!)


gl. said...

nice! and kudos to you for getting grant money to test all this out.

Julie said...

I am looking for information on doing solarplates and I ran across your blog. It is great how you devised these experiments to show what is possible with this technique. I would be using relief, with a letterpress process, so maybe it would be crisper that intaglio. I'd like to try ink painting on transparent media, reverse it in Photoshop, print out on inkjet transparency and then make a plate, or possibly just use the first transparency directly.
I don't see a follow up blog about your session. How did it go? Did you get good results, and are you planning on doing more of this technique? Any further pictures would be much appreciated!

fingerstothebone said...


I did try making relief plates and text worked out much better. I have been remiss in taking care of documentation.

The relief plates were printed on an etching press w/ very little pressure -- no blankets just a heavy board. I think if you mount it type high, you should be able to print it letterpress.

I think you can use your first, directly painted on transparency and not have to go through reversing and then printing out another transparency.

I'll dig up my prints and try to catch up w/ the documentation. I was waiting for my prints to dry before I sent them through the scanner, but then I let it slip by.

Julie said...

When you find your prints, that would be great to see them. No rush if other things call.
For a relief process, it is the higher areas of the plate which get the ink. So, if the exposed parts are hardened and don't wash away, they are the printing surface. In a positive, it will be all the clear areas that are higher, and thus, printed. So, if I want to make a print that looks just like my ink painting, I will have to reverse it so that it becomes like a negative. Unless I want to think in reverse while I am painting!
Anyway, hope to see some of your final images when you get a chance.

fingerstothebone said...

Yes, as soon as I finished writing my note to you, I realized what I said made no sense if you were doing relief. But anyhow...I should be digging out those prints soon, so hopefully you'll see them next week!

fingerstothebone said...

Julie -- my documentation on the solarplate experiments are all up! I hope they're useful for you. Let me know if you have any questions.