Since my last post regarding the etched solar plates I was recently given I’ve been experimenting with different papers and colourways to see what effects I can get. The plates are several years old and some of the etching isn’t that deep and on occasion it’s been difficult to get the ink to hold and transfer onto a decent print but I’m enjoying the process.
Many of the plates are close-ups of the plant and therefore fairly abstract. However, here are some prints I’ve pulled from a larger plate showcasing a Banksia tree.
Even between these two pieces you can see just gently rubbing back excess ink can make a big difference to the result. This shows clearly on the second print in the centre where the Banksia pods have lost some definition.
The image above shows where significantly more ink was left on the plate, including the mostly un-etched portions. I’d hoped to pick up more of the very light trees in the background and that’s worked well. However, the front Banksia pods have lost some of their definition and seem heavy with no obvious detail apparent.
This highlights how important planning solar plate etching is and the reliance placed on the original imagery when assessing tonal variation.
The print above comes from a very small plate and, again, several prints had to be taken to understand how and where the ink would hold. Examining the etched plate it’s obvious that there’s no detail in the branch and rear right hand pod. The acetate image will have been fairly dense in these areas so no matter how much ink I wipe away I’ll not improve on this because it’s solidly etched into the plate.
Again it’s a good lesson for those inexperienced trying to understand what type of image works well with solar plates. It’s a perfect medium for working with detailed imagery: photography or drawing, as the detail will be picked up. But always keep in mind that where there is a density in the original image that will come across as well.
The next piece is from an etched zinc plate of my own making. The edges of the zinc have been filed back, but a little roughly, which has led to them holding some ink. A thing to watch for when filing if you want to avoid this.
Zinc plates are so smooth they don’t hold any ink where not etched and so plate tone is pretty much minimal, if not non-existent. In this case I tried to leave a little and I’m OK with the result but will likely print this another couple of times in a single sepia or grey tone, perhaps on coloured paper. I’m not thrilled with the colour scheme here. And I think some better filing will make a difference, just to get the edges smooth so I avoid those marks.