Solar Plate Printing with Kate Desforges

Solar plate printing
On Saturday we had the lovely Bianca and her Dad in the workshop to do a bespoke tuition session in solar plate printing with our technician Kate. This technique is sometimes also referred to as photoploymer gravure or flexo printing. The plates have a steel backing and are pre-coated with a light-sensitive emulsion. Photographic or hand-drawn images can be used which makes it a really versatile technique. The image is outputted onto a transparent film, (our new large format printer comes in very handy for this and produces high-res images onto transparency up to A1 size), and exposed onto the plate in our UV exposure unit.  The plates are then developed in water, then hardened with more UV light. Prints are taken in the same way as an etching – the plate is inked up with oil-based ink, (we use Hawthorn Printmaker stay-open inks), and printed onto damp heavyweight paper, (in this case Somerset Satin – lovely stuff). The resulting prints have a wonderfully soft quality to them, with a large tonal range, rich blacks and loads of detail. Bianca and her Dad are both photographers and wanted to explore different ways of taking their photography into print. They produced beautiful prints and we managed to cover all the basics in a 5 hour session.
Our bespoke tuition sessions cost £35 per hour, and are a great option if you cannot attend a particular course date, or want to learn a technique which we don’t offer in our course programme. We have a pool of tutors who offer a range of different techniques, and tailor the session to your individual needs. Email us on for more details.
Kate Desforges
Density test strips for Solar Plate/ Photo Etching
Solar Plate Printing process
Solar Plate Printing example

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