Thursday, October 14, 2010

My new UV exposure unit!

I recently bought a new UV exposure unit that I found by chance on Ebay. I'd never seen it before, or used one like it before, but at the price it was selling for, I just couldn't pass up a chance to buy one and try it out. Hey, if it didn't work, I figured, I could just sell it on Ebay.

It's surprisingly unlabeled and unbranded. In fact all of the information you'll ever get about this little machine is right there on the front panel:

Inside the lid is a spongy pad that helps create good contact between the plate and the negative.

I got a good tip from Kyle Van Horn that I would need to add a light diffuser to get good results, so I purchased a small sheet of Kreen from Boxcar Press which is specifically made for this purpose. I trimmed a piece to the size of the glass plate and attached it with double-sided tape to the underside before replacing the plate.

For testing, I used a small negative that I've already used before. This one has a good combination of thick and thin lines.

I exposed a separate plate for each setting, for a total of 12 plates.

I developed each plate using a washout brush, also from Boxcar Press, in a tray of lukewarm water for about 5 minutes each.

Then the plates were dried in my very home-made drying box (no need to keep frozen during this process).

After a second hardening exposure, I printed the plates on a Vandercook SP-20. Yippee, it worked!

You can see the progression from top to bottom, left column then right. For this particular plate, it looks like setting 5 gives the best results. However, the settings of the unit, labeled "Solarize Minute," don't exactly correlate with time. For instance, setting 1 only lasted 47 seconds, while setting 3 lasted 3 minutes 45 seconds. I plan on doing more tests with the timing to see if it's at least consistent. If not, I'll probably attach a dark room timer like the one used on the exposure unit I blogged about in August. I also plan on doing more tests using type, especially small and delicate type, before using it for detailed work. Until then, I'll probably continue to rely on the folks at Boxcar Press to make especially detailed plates, but use my new one right here in my studio for everything else!