Saturday, August 7, 2010

Digital Experiments

In the last couple of days I've done some interesting experiments with digital imagery -- interesting in that as I often do, I've been mixing metaphors...or in this case, doing things "you're not supposed to do." AKA, breaking the "rules" for how products are supposed to be used.

This third image in this first series, just below this block of text, is a photo of an early quilt, Skipping Stones. I took a lot of images of this quilt, and one in particular intrigued me. That image is just above -- a piece of a photo, cropped, blown up, digitized. I've printed this image on several kinds of fabric and used pieces of it in other quilts.

The image on top is of a piece of linen I just printed with the same image on my Canon ink jet printer. This time the image was printed on a sheet of Lasertran and then transferred to the fabric with a 50/50 mix of acrylic matte medium and water. The medium was brushed on the fabric with an even coat, the printed side of the Lasertran was turned over onto the medium, and the image was burnished onto the wet fabric.

The mixed metaphor part of this is that Lasertran is made to be used with laser copies and this version of Lasertran was meant to be used on silk. Normally the way you use the product is that you iron the printed image on your fabric with a hot iron, then you soak the fabric face down in a pan of water until the backing paper falls off, then carefully lift the silk out of the water and iron again until it's dry. Lasertran has never worked for me...although truth be told, I've never tried it with laser color copies -- they're too expensive, I have to go elsewhere to have prints made, etc., etc.

So I've kind of been wanting to use this stuff up by trying any which way I could to get the printed image from the Lasertran onto fabric. The result: transferring to fabric with acrylic medium worked better than I imagined and I'm happy with the final image on fabric.

Another product I tried this week is T.A.P., or Transfer Artist Paper. This stuff enables you to print an image onto a sheet of coated paper, turn the image over onto fabric, and iron on hot until the image has transferred from the paper to the fabric. The result was so bad, I threw it away! My apologies to Lesley Riley who developed T.A.P., but it just didn't work for me. The ink colors shifted quite a bit from what they should have been, not all of the image transferred to the fabric despite the amount of heat, and the fabric was stiff with the plasticky feeling that image transfers often -- usually -- have.

I did a second experiment, though, with Lasertran. After the image was printed, instead of transferring it to fabric treated with acrylic medium, I transferred it to a piece of fabric that I had previously treated with Bubble Jet Set. In lieu of medium, I sprayed the dry fabric until it was damp, turned the image side of the Lasertran onto the fabric, and burnished. The resulting image is rather ghost-like, but it still works for me. And the fabric is mildly stuff, but not as much as with medium.

The top piece of this set is the Lasertran to bubble-jet-setted fabric, the image below is my original digital image of discharged fabric with minor manipulations including a sepia filter in Photoshop Elements.

And the bottom image is of the quilt that the original discharged fabric became.

A caveat ~ burnishing is very hard on the upper body. It definitely hurt my wrists, hands and arms because of the pressure necessary to get the image to release from the backing and adhere to the fabric. And one transfer can require 10 or more minutes of burnishing.

Upshot: I still vastly prefer Bubble Jet Set for digital imagery. But I'm glad to have options in my toolbag.

Friday and Saturday's Sketchbook collages are on my collage Page.


maggi said...

Great tips about the Lazertran. I have had some for along time but not used it, apart from once, again like you because of the cost of getting it printed. Must get it out and try your method. TAP is not my favourite either because f the plastic feel, although I have had no problems getting a clear image.

Rayna said...

Yikes! This all sounds like too much work to me - but the results are very cool. I never could get into putting fabric through my printer but these almost make me want to try it.

P.S. - use products the way they are "supposed" to be used? hahahaha - we'd never discover anything that way.

jackie said...

Have you tried Ink Aid at all. I have found that it works much better for me than Bubblejet. Your results look great.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

These are fabulous!

The Idaho Beauty said...

I too am not a fan of TAP. I was very disappointed that it was advertised as not changing the hand of the fabric when it obviously does. Like you, I had problems with the ink, the transfer process...I still can't understand why everyone raves about it.