Stage 2: Elian and the Vortex

Plate 2:

Solar Plate

This plate will be printed underneath the previous zinc plate.  That was made first to enable me to assess correct placement of the components that will be etched into this layer.

running-away-72-x-175The aim is to have Elian running towards a vortex, so the plate will show his back view.  I tried drawing him in various positions, quickly realised that my artistry wasn’t up to the challenge, so I downloaded some pictures from the net.

Drawing isn’t my number one skill, so to help me understand how to portray movement I first traced the outline of my internet photo.  This enabled my hand and eye to concentrate on the detail of the shape, the angles of legs and arms when running, the movement of clothing and creasing.  I find this a great learning exercise.  After this I copied my tracing by hand and added detail.  The outcome wasn’t too bad, and usable.v6

I placed him and the vortex onto several photocopies of the first plate to get correct sizing and placement.  Happy with the result shown here because, even in black and white, it has some depth.  I’ve successfully started to create back, mid and foreground.

The next step was to isolate the imagery, draw it very accurately, with all detail, on to clean white paper and then transfer to acetate.

Due to time constraints, the hazard of too much sunlight on my solar plate and the process of washing the plate after exposure I was unable to photograph the process of etching the plate (my hands and mind were otherwise very occupied!).

solar-plate-exampleHere’s a quick rundown of how it works and a sample etched plate to the left:

  • The solar plate is made in two parts.  The underside is a very thin sheet of steel.  On top of this is fused a photosensitive polymer with a clean plastic coating for protection.  The plate is kept in the dark until ready for use.
  • Imagery is transferred to acetate ready for etching. Highly contrasting (light/dark) images work well and extensive detail can be achieved.
  • The clear film is removed from the polymer plate and the acetate is set in place.  The acetate is first lightly coated with talcum powder to avoid it sticking.  This is ‘sandwiched’ and clamped between sheets of glass to remain stable.
  • The whole sandwich is placed under a UV light in an enclosed area – a tented box shape works well – but beware of the heat!
  • Depending on the image type and the depth of etching required the plate is left for a fixed amount of time.  In my case, 3 1/2 minutes.
  • If required, an aquatint sheet (aka solar plate screen) can be put over the sandwich for a further 3 1/2 minutes etching.  Note: the use of these sheets will be further explained in detail in a later post as it can be rather involved.
  • I used the aquatint sheet, then removed the sandwich from the light and separated the components.
  • The plate was then rinsed in a warm water bath for 5 minutes, lightly brushing with cotton wool.  It was dried with a hairdryer (to avoid water drops remaining), and cured in the sun before use.

Note: There are some variables in this type of etching and it can be done by leaving the plates to etch in the sun instead of using a UV light.  Some of the details of how and why the plates etch will be explained in future posts.

Preparing the plate the way I did – using the aquatint sheet for the second part of the etching – ensured that my plate ‘grabbed’ the ink right across the surface very easily.  So my results, I feel, are quite dramatic.

v7v8It was then time for one last trial.

Could I add colour to selected areas only without getting a sharp outline to the inked sections?  Could I blend my colours out to nothing across the plate?

And here it is.  A great plate.  The imagery I wanted and good colour placement.

Now all I have to do is prepare both plates, get the chine collé ready and register them exactly.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
This entry was posted in Elian and his world of fantasy, My Creative Pieces, My prints and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stage 2: Elian and the Vortex

  1. kath says:

    both of these (part 1&2) look great Claire. looking forward to seeing the final outcome

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