A long time ago, I spent a lot of time making prints. My most favorite place to be was at Il Bisonte in Florence, Italy. I spent most of my junior year in college walking an hour each way through the historic city to get to the studio, which was located in a beautiful old stable on the far side of the Arno. Each press was located in a horse stall and there was a beautiful open courtyard in the middle of the building where we would rest after lunch. Life in Italy, in so many ways was lovely. Fast forward about twenty years. OK, more than that. I hadn't laid eyes on a press again until this winter. Being new to Maine, I met a woman who put me in touch with a printmaker who ran studio time down in Damariscotta at the Midcoast Printmakers, and there I revitalized an old love. Frances Hodsdon is a wonderful teacher, well versed in all kinds of intaglio printing that I didn't even know existed. One of the newer techniques I learned was a solar plate etching.
What you start with is a drawing or ink painting on a clear surface, In this case, I used a glass plate. The plate is set atop the special 'solar plate' and is exposed to a strong lightbulb. This in effect marks the skin of the plate, which you then wash in warm water. No acid involved! As a mother I guess I embrace this toxin free method. The plate cures under the hot lamp for a few minutes and it is then ready to ink as any regular intaglio plate would be.
Don't you love this part?