Contemporary, Early 20th Century, Etching, Prints

Yvette Lucas Explains Solar Etchings


(Left image) Lace. By Yvette Lucas. Solar etching, 2010.
(Right Image) Ecstatic Tree. By Yvette Lucas. Solar etching, 2010.

The Old Print Gallery has a show of etchings now up on view. Because the prints span from 1909 to 2012, ETCHED highlights both the use of  traditional methods and a newer trend among contemporary printmakers- a playful exploration of the medium with novel materials, resins, and acids. Yvette Lucas is a perfect example of a printmaker incorporating technological advancements into her creative process. She works with Solarplates™ to create beautiful photo intaglios- two of which are featured in the show.

Solarplates™ were created in the early 1970s by Dan Weldon. Not only are these plates more economical and faster to work with than traditional copper or zinc plates, they remove acid baths from the etching process-resulting in an environmentally friendly printmaking process and safer working conditions for the printmaker.  The plate is “etched” by the sun, which appeals to not just printmakers but also photographers and multi-media artists.

Below, Lucas has written about her experience with Solarplates™ to create Lace and Ecstatic Tree just for our OPG blog readers. We hope you enjoy this look into her creative process and methods.


So many of us are drawn to the natural places that exist outside of the heavily populated towns and cities. They engage our senses and calm our mind. I chose these images for their quiet but powerful presence to be enhanced by the process of ink pressed into paper. There is a depth and dimension that is achieved with the intaglio process which is different from a pigment print. Though not as sharply detailed, its softness and warmth pulls in the viewer to experience and linger in those places.  

These intaglios are printed from Solarplates™, steel plates coated with a light sensitive polymer. The plate is exposed with a film positive using sunlight or other form of UV light to burn the image onto the plate. The plates are processed in water then inked, hand wiped, and printed on an etching press in small editions. In this series I use raw sepia for its large tonal range and warm brown color.

Thanks to Yvette Lucas for the explanation! OPG blog readers can view the ETCHED prints in person at our Georgetown gallery or online here.  The show is on view until April 5, 2014.



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