by Elaine Luther

Have you heard about Photopolymer Plates? If you’re a part of Metal Clay Gallery (see links) you already know about them. They are an alternative to having rubber stamps made. Sure, you can mold lots of cool textures with products like Quick Sil (Silicone RTV Mold Making Compound), or you can carve your own polymer clay texture plates.

But what if you want a texture plate from your own line drawing? Lots of folks are making their own with Photopolymer Plates. Here’s how to get started. First, I’d suggest reading the very clear instructions by Maggie Bergman, who presented on the topic at the 2006 PMC Conference.

Okay, so you’ve read, and you’re ready to buy the stuff. What do you need?

– some photopolymer
– a washout brush
– a transparency
– something to hold your transparency close to your photopolymer (such as glass and clamps)
– a UV lightsource (purchased or homemade)

You can buy “blank” photopolymer from Art Clay World and PMC123.

PMC 123 also sells a kit with the glass, bulldog clips and a washout brush. Sure, you could assemble all those things yourself, but sometimes it’s nice to get everything in one place.

Now you need a light source. You can build your own, quite easily, using black lights and a lighting unit from your local home center. However, if you have no building or wiring skills, the folks on Metal Clay Gallery recommend a unit used for manicures.

You can find them on eBay, prices mentioned on MCG range from $12.00 to $60.00. Here’s a link to a new one at $81.00. I want to show you this one because the unit is mostly enclosed, to better protect your eyes.

You really don’t want to expose your eyes to unnecessary UV lights, so please take precautions, wear UV protective eye wear, cover the unit with a box while it’s on.

The last key to know about photopolymer plates is that the transparency you make of your drawing is really key. It’s got to be dark. Make it as dark as possible, and if you can, double up, using two of the same one, layered.

If you want to see a completed Photopolymer Texture Plate, you can see the ones I make on my professional equipment

(c) Elaine Luther 2007-2008 All Rights Reserved

Update: here’s a how-to video by Tonya Davidson:

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