Solar plate printing

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day at the Leicester Print Workshop learning the fundamentals of solar plate photo etching. The photos here show a print made shortly afterwards using my own press. This is much more prosaic and less stylish than the huge, gorgeous Harry Rochat press at the workshop but has given some excellent results. In fact I found the prints to be equally as good as those made on the big press. Surprisingly the Akua Intaglio water-based inks I use produced far superior, deeper blacks than the oil-based ink used on the course.

This is such a beautiful, tangible method of printing. The smell of the ink, the texture of the paper, the weight of the plate in the hand whilst inking and wiping, the turning of the press handle, the scope for altering the mood of the print by over or under inking. the sensitivity required to produce a correctly balanced print: all these elements make this a fascinating and viscerally engaging process.

The plate after removal of the print.

The resulting print on cartridge paper.

Detail of the print corner showing the tonality achievable from an aquatint=screened (but not half-toned) plate.