Solar Etching

Term: 4 Year: 2012

A Response to Kony

Solar Etching is a fabulous way for students to learn about intaglio style printmaking. It is fantastic because it does not require drawing (although you can if you want to), and students all feel a sense of achievement when their designs are printed through the press.

I have been working with a method of solar etching using collage as a basis for design. In this particular project students responded to the KONY Video that was big in social media earlier this year. They had to create a collage in response to the video. This worked so well, because the students were so passionate about the cause. We had heated class discussions about the validity and reliability of the short film. They had very strong opinions about the video, positive and negative, and the use of collage enabled them to express this, without the fear of drawing/drawing realistically.

The students were encouraged to fill the space of the collage, using text, or other designs from newspaper clippings. We looked at symmetrical and asymmetrical balance, and how depending on the mood of their print they could alter the composition. We looked at tone, particularly contrast and how a variety of tone, including greys could be picked up by the solar etching plate.  I have also used this method to have the students respond to alternative themes, including altered faces, issues from today’s news, and women in the media..etc.

The process of creating the print is as follows:

Step 1- Create a collage expressing your response to…….Make sure it is half A4 size.

Step 2- Transfer your design onto acetate, either print from a scan of the design, or just photocopy.

Step 3- Expose solar plate to UV light. See instructions from supplier. We have a UV light box, which makes life much easier! Between 1-3 minutes depending on the darkness of the image, another tip, use two transparencies, for greyer images, so the light is blocked more successfully!

Step 4- Develop plate in water. Again see instructions from supplier. You can get good prints, even though it may seem the image has not taken well.

Step 5-Pat dry with a lint free cloth. Depending on the plate you can use a hair dryer, or expose to more light to harden the plate.

Step 6-Print the plate!

Samantha Caddey
Art Teacher + Year 11 Coordinator
St Margaret’s School, Berwick
Suitable for Level 5