Tip 15: If you find it hard to carve, there’s an easier way

'Beach Bunnies' by Julia Wakefield

‘Beach Bunnies’ by Julia Wakefield

After watching David Fraser carving away at his giant linocut, you might be suffering from RSI just from empathising with him. Or you might be just impatient to get your image printed as soon as possible – or you might be wondering if there’s a way to get drawn lines to print in the same way as we can print carved lines. If you fall into any of those three categories, relief solarplate (also known as relief photopolymer) might be the way for you to go.

The Beach Bunnies print consists of three separate plates plus a bit of hand coloring on the surfboards. Plate 1 is the pale blue, plate 2 is the darker blue and the third plate is the black. The tricky bit is that I drew the images for all the plates in the negative – all the black lines became white, and vice versa. That’s because when you expose the image (drawn onto OHT film or acetate) onto the photopolymer plate (which you can easily do in the sunshine, you don’t need a UV box for this) all the exposed areas harden, while the black lines prevent the hardening process so the photopolymer under the black washes away when you develop the plate in water.

These are the three images I started with:

bb 3    

Go to Tip 10 for more information about the photopolymer process, but bear in mind that in Tip 10 I was creating an etching, which is printed by the Intaglio process. When we create a relief plate, the surface of the plate is printed. You don’t have to draw your image in the negative of course – you can draw a positive image on paper, scan it into your computer, invert it (i.e. make it into a negative) and print it onto an A3 transparency. But it’s also great fun to paint a transparency with black ink, scratch into it with a knife and then see what happens when you turn it into a solarplate.

These are two of the plates:

bb plate 4    bb plate 2

The first plate was the background image (note that the plates are of course the opposite way round to the final print):

bb plate 1

I hope you get the idea. Imagine how long this would have taken to carve! And it wouldn’t have looked half as as spontaneous.

If you’d like to learn about this technique, I’m running a workshop at Bittondi Print Studio on June 14.  Here are the details:

Relief Photopolymer workshop with Julia Wakefield

You can see more examples of relief solarplate on my website and some very different ones on Dan Welden’s Facebook page:

Dan Welden, 'Poached Kebab', solarplate relief print

Dan Welden, ‘Poached Kebab’, solarplate relief print

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