Solarplates were first introduced for sale about 20 years ago by New York artist and Master Printer, Dan Welden. Dan immediately saw the potential for these plates that developed with UV light and washed out with water. He pioneered work with the manufacturer beginning in the early 70’s, sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with other artists. In 2001 he co-authored the book “Printmaking in the Sun” with Australian artist Pauline Muir.
I personally got interested in photosensitive polymer plates in 1998 and took classes using image-on film and z-acryl film. I met Dan Welden at the Southern Graphics Conference in Miami and got some samples. Originally I wanted to use this process to color-separate viscosity monotypes, which I had been making for 20 years. Of course, solarplate generated it’s own excitement and I never color-separated one monotype, but I did go on to make hundreds of Solarplates and begin teaching others how to use them. It was obvious that Solarplate was easier and more consistent to use than other brands, and more expensive. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Dan Welden tells me I am an expert with Solarplate, so that is high praise indeed.
I have been a printmaker for 40 years and an artist all my life. I always loved etching, but hated the chemicals. I had children at home and taught a lot other children and I did not want the chemicals around. To say Solarplates changed my work is an understatement. I can safely make intaglio work with no chemicals except tap water, a heady thing for a printmaker. I am past president and current Education Chair for Print Arts Northwest, a regional printmaking professional organization in the Pacific Northwest. I teach several workshops a year at Atelier Meridian in Portland, Oregon using Solarplate and occasionally I travel to do a weekend workshop in another area.