Fun in the Sun: Greeting Cards with Solar Plates
by: Curtis Taylor
This article will explain how to make fine art relief print cards using only the power of the sun. Unlike traditional printmaking methods that require dangerous chemicals or sharp tools and years of technical practice a solar plate uses the sun, some water, and a tooth brush to develop. This project will walk you through your first fine art creation with a solar plate avoiding years of art school not to mention the expense.
Solar plates are made with a special photopolymer that hardens when exposed to a UV light source. UV light sources can be purchased or made but I prefer to use a free source of UV light we call the sun. For our purposes solar plates are quite forgiving. You can work in normal indoor lighting conditions with incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs. There is no need for a darkroom. You just need to be careful to avoid direct sunlight until you are ready to expose your plate. Solar plates should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place until exposure. Solar plates are quite durable and will probably last a lifetime under normal hand burnishing.
This is a quick way to give a plain tee or tank a little upgrade! The best part is, you don’t have to screw around with buttonholes because that part has been done for you already!
If you’re looking at me funny and wondering WTF a henley shirt is, it’s a shirt with a partial button placket down the front. Like our finished project here:
Things you’ll need for this tutorial:
- sewing machine (or needle and thread, if you’re old school and mega patient like that)
- a t-shirt or tank (you can make your own, if you like)
- the button placket from another shirt
Gather your materials. Here I’ve got my henley and my fabric, with which I will make a basic tee.
I happened to have a a henley shirt that I cut up a while ago to make a pattern. This is why I can never throw things away… I knew it would come in handy!
If you don’t have a henley style shirt, you can use a button placket from any shirt, really. A full buttondown will work just fine for this, you just need to trim it to the length you want. I think a plaid button placket would look super cute on a plain tee!
If you’ve searched your closets high and low and don’t have a button placket handy, there’s a really great tutorial for making a henley tee here.
The cute button print fabric I used in this tutorial is from Purple Seamstress Fabrics.
Fun fact: I graduated from the same high school as pop-up book king, Robert Sabuda! You may have seen some of his books before- he’s done tons of pop-up versions of famous fairytales and other children’s books like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, etc.
The pop-ups make awesome cards for pretty much any occasion. I was in need of a Get Well card, so instead of buying a cheesy Hallmark card, I decided to make a pop-up card using the Bat tutorial here: http://www.robertsabuda.com/popmake/animals/bat/popmake_bat-step1.asp
Not only is it handmade (10 times cooler), but it’s THREE DEE (cool to the third power). So thats like Cool x 1000.
I’d suggest reading through the instructions before starting, and gathering all of the tools you’ll need!
Tools you’ll need:
paper – something heavy like cardstock works well for the base of the card. I used scrapbooking paper to “line” the base, though this step is totally optional. I used black construction paper for the bat.
scoring/folding tool – I used a knitting needle. You could also use a chopstick, bamboo skewer, and old pen, etc.
glue – I used a quick dry craft glue that’s similar to rubber cement. Glue sticks or double sided tape will also work well. White glue will work if you have the time and patience to let it dry.
printer or markers
extra decorating doo-dads – like googly eyes!
Here’s my finished card!