Recently I have been working on a new commission.  I provide a service for clients who want an artwork that encapsulates key parts of the character of a loved-one, as a personal momento or as a gift.

We discuss and sift through a staggeringly large array of photos, certificates, maps, crests, coats-of-arms or items specifically poignant to the person being represented – for instance, in this latest commission there were betting slips, recipes and postcard messages to be considered.

100_5672     Alien registration booklet - FdR    Map 1    Alien registration 8

The job of choosing the items to be represented is very important.  It is vital to choose what is relevant and sentimental, whilst balancing that against the more artistic aspects of these documents.  Handwriting works well, as does linear artefacts like crests and coats-of-arms but a jumble of disparate bits and pieces will detract from the visual success of the finished piece.

For this commission I chose a good photo of the subject (of the print) that was of high quality and had good contrast of light and shade, to be the base image.  For the second image I cropped and altered the faces from a stack of photos depicting loved ones covering four generations of this family.  These faces were then arranged as a grid that would be printed over the darker base image.

 photos pixilate      Many phils

The third plate was to carry most of the various additional ephemera provided by my client.   I started by arranging things into some order and scanning in a pile of the birth and marriage certificates.  Then I picked out bits of meaningful written messages and dates.

Certs pixe             Stamp of nationality               writing

 A further third meeting with the client resolved what to include and what to exclude from the third plate, the things that would carry the real emotional punch – looking through past commissions it was agreed to include some crests and appropriate ones were chosen.

Once the content of each plate was agreed it was necessary to create an image onto acetate (OHP) film in the right size, black & white and with good contrast, often posterised using a Photoshop Filter – this is important for the Solar Plate process.

Photo      Dad over the years 2 posterise        FdR certificates

The acetates were positioned in close contact with the Solar Plates and exposed to ultra violet light.  The plates then needed to be developed and light hardened.  Once they were dry the edges and corners were bevelled so as not to cut the paper when passing through the printing press.


Each plate was then inked-up with oil-based Intaglio printing ink; the first plate was passed through the press with the dampened 300 gsm Cotton Rag paper.  Once through the press the first plate was removed and the second plate – inked in gold – was put in its place.  Then the second was removed and the third – inked in silver – replaced the previous two.  In this way three images were printed one on top of the other creating a three-plate layered etching.


Nonno           Nonna beige, grey,black

Marjellen               Final Print






Just to let you know, the commission was a great success and both mum and dad loved the works. It turned out we had used one of dad’s favourite pictures of mum, and when we handed it over (Saturday evening as Sunday was going to be a busy day), mum realised that the image had been taken exactly 40 years ago, probably to the minute, as the photo was taken 2 days after the wedding at an evening drinks do arranged by my nana! Very strange! Another strange thing was that mum said she used to sign her name very much in the style in which you titled the pieces!

Mum and dad seemed keen on framing it and hanging it in the sitting room so it’s definitely going up soon!

Thank you so much for all your efforts. We all love the work very much.

Karyn & Jules

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Just to let you know, the commission was a great success and both mum and dad loved the works. It turned out we had used one of dad's favourite pictures of mum, and wh...

Karyn & Jules

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