Friday, August 14, 2015


My head is still buzzing from the week I spent at the Passionate Pen Conference.

"Seismic Shift" solar plate print   Photo by my husband Bill

I chose two classes to fill my week: Sharon Zeugin's one-day art journaling class and Louise Grunewald's 5-day offering, Letters from the Sun, which used solar plates for printmaking. Every afternoon I came away from the classes completely worn out -- your brain is a muscle too -- and boy, did I work that one!

By the end of the week, I realized I'd found the answer to a problem I had been wrestling with for a long time. I wanted to combine letterpress with my own artwork. Though I had learned how to make  photo polymer plates to duplicate images that I had created, the techniques and machines used in the process needed more time than I have been able to find to embrace the procedure easily. With a solar plate, all I needed was the sun and some water.

The project below, They Would Have Been Cowboys, was printed using a letterpress and photo polymer plates. In order for me to accomplish this printing I needed access to machines that I don't have at home.

The transparency of my sketch

The photo polymer plate ready to print

This is a project done the traditional way setting type one letter at a time, with my sketch printed at the top.  To print the sketch, I first made a negative transparency of the sketch, and exposed that on top of a polymer plate in a light box. The polymer plate is then put through a washing machine that eliminates all of the exposed polymer leaving behind the image. Washing the plate also can be done by hand with a soft brush.

The solar plate process is different. A light box can be used to expose the plate, but the best solution is the sun. I put my plate outside for just a few seconds to expose it. I then took the plate to the sink and washed off the exposed polymer, leaving the image I wanted. I then let the plate harden in the sun for a short time before I placed it on the press, ready for printing.

The transparency of the sketch and the solar plate ready for printing.

Printed image

A 'ghost' print from the plate after the first printing

During the solar plate making class, the group collected plates made by class members and laid them on the press ready to make a group printing.

The plates are arranged on the bed of the press. A piece of dampened paper is positioned on the plates. Felts are laid on top and then the press is rolled over the plates. Louise Grunewald holds the finished print.

Louise Grunewald is a kind and encouraging teacher and allowed us access to the breadth of her knowledge. I walked away every day, first, tired, but also full of joy, knowing that I had found another true process for myself -- one that I could accomplish at home (that is, once I find a press).

Check out Louise's website at

Next week I'll take you on a short walk as we observe the world around us in an artist's journal.


  1. Sounds like a very creative and productive week. I love learning new techniques, and more often just enjoy watching and participating...sort of therapy.

  2. Thank you, Letty, for your comments. I really enjoyed being with a group of creative people working hard all week!


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