Printmaker Dan Welden visits art classes

Jake Knatz, Sports Editor

AP Photo students and AP Drawing and Painting students recently had the opportunity to work with master printmaker Mr. Dan Welden. Welden is the inventor of the Solar Etching Print process. Students were able to print their own work using this unique process with help from its creator.
Welden’s printing process is unique because, unlike traditional development, it does not use grounds, acids, or solvents. Instead, it uses UV light and tap water. It is a safe, simple process that is better for the environment than usual methods. Welden invented this process in the 1970s. The Solar Etching Print process produces high quality, rich prints.
“My print came out amazing,” said junior Amy Zack. “I loved how I got to use my hands and utilize the sun. The whole process was really interesting and I felt blessed to be able to work with such a famous artist.”
To make a print using this process, students expose a negative print of their photo or piece of art onto light sensitive, polymer plates. Whenever UV light strikes the surface of the plate, the polymer hardens. The plate is then scrubbed with water, and the water dissolves the unexposed portions of the plate. The plate is then covered with ink, and the impressions in the plate hold the ink. The plate is then placed on paper and hand rolled through a pressing machine. The pressure from the machine makes the ink in the grooves of the plate transfer to the paper.
“Holding the plate and being able to touch impressions of my artwork was really cool,” said junior Kayla Shafkwoitz. “It was a more engaging experience of printing that was more organic and rewarding. Dan was really sweet and I felt so lucky to be able to get his expert opinion and assistance.”
Earlier in the year, the Chinese government paid for Welden to come print enormous pieces in China using his process. Some pieces were 30×60 inches. They supplied him with eight assistants. This is considered a prestigious honor for an artist.
“It is an extraordinary experience for our art students to work alongside, and be mentored by, a world renowned, expert artist and teacher,” said AP Photo teacher Ms. Kris Murphy. “The students worked really well with Mr. Welden, and they both really enjoyed the workshop.”
The workshop was made possible by Helping Enrich Arts (HEArts). This is the fourth time Welden came to Schreiber to work with students, but the first time HEArts sponsored the workshop. The workshops were previously sponsored by the Port Washington Education Foundation.
“This printing process is so different from what I’ve ever done,” said junior Juliette Vasquez. “I learned so many new unique things and had a great time doing it. Dan’s process requires more thought than simply printing a photo from the computer or developing film in a darkroom.”
The process also allows students to etch their plates. Etching is a technique in which artists engrave their artwork.
“I thought it was really cool that I was able to change my photograph using my hands, rather than using Photoshop,” said Vasquez. “Dan showed me a lot of different things I could use to make markings onto my plate to make the print more creative. He encouraged me to take risks and try whatever thoughts I had. He told me not to second guess myself, and showed how he liked to use sticks to make
marks on his plates.”
When art teacher Ms. Miranda
Best thanked Welden for working with Schreiber students, Welden replied, “Thank you for your kind words and also for providing such a wonderful group of kids! I really mean that. They were fantastic.”