playing with solar plates

I’ve had a solar plate tucked in amongst my supplies for awhile now but this week I was inspired by our unusual winter sunshine to drag it out and use it.  I followed the directions in my new Print Workshop book and they were perfect.  It really doesn’t take that much sunshine, just a few minutes to develop the plate, then a half hour or so to harden it, but honestly, in the Pacific Northwest that amount of sunshine in the winter is a rare commodity.


solar plates 003

Okay.  Do you not absolutely love the color of this plate?  I felt like framing it, and not worrying about using it to print!  I used a photograph that I took at Ocean Shores of an old dock – just the pilings are left and they head out into the ocean for about a hundred feet.  This is my favorite place to beachcomb because it is always being moved around by winter storms.


solar plates 004I recolored the photo to just black and white then printed it onto an overheard projector sheet.  I put the plate on a piece of plywood then put the photo on top and on top of that a sheet of glass.  I put the stack in the sun for about 3 minutes.  You can’t really see anything much happening so you have to go on faith that it has developed.  Next the plate goes into a cool water bath for about five minutes. Then using a very soft brush I brushed the plate and low and behold my image appeared.  Magic!  Then the plate went back into the sun to harden.



I took the plate to printmaking class last night.  It took a few tries before I got an image I was happy with. I’m not that careful with the brayer so I kept getting ink where I didn’t want it.  I was surprised at the amount of detail that the plate captures.  I’m not sure where I’ll go with this print or if I’ll just frame the plate and call it a day. I’ll definitely try this technique again though.


Ocean Shores 008



PS  I bought my solar plate through McClains, their online shop is my “go to” place for many of my printmaking supplies particularly my shina plywood for woodblock prints.

Comments 2

  1. amy February 3, 2011

    I have a stack of solar printing pages that I’ve been saving to do something with my kids and then I just bought some more to do with my tiger scouts when we can meet on a weekend. We played with some in college a million years ago and it was all sort of meh because we had to do specific things with a limited field of objects and it didn’t help that our TA hated his job and most of us disliked him greatly…it was lovely…really just a semester of wasted opportunity. But I digress :). I love the original sun print – SO COOL.

    • dawnrogal February 3, 2011

      Oh Amy, I had some solar printing pages in my drawer too, can’t think how old there were and the package said “use within 6 months of purchase”, so I tried them at the same time and they are perfect! Perhaps not as crisp or as dark blue as they might have been but I love how they turned out. Of course, our sun has disappeared and the forecast says rain and/or showers for the next whatever many days… sigh.

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