Friday, May 25, 2012

New Image Transfer Trials

A few years ago when I first got into surface design, I experimented with ink jet digital transfers on paper and cloth.  My experiments were limited because I didn't have all the ingredients then to really make an informed decision about what works best.

Fast forward to the present ~ now I do have everything recommended by countless others for doing digital image transfers.  I want to share with you what works and what doesn't.  Yeah, this is my experience, but it's hard for me to believe that a lot of what's purported to work for others really does, because of the nature of the materials.  More on that later.

The primary elements recommended -- and these are by many people in books, in online groups, and via googled links --
  • gel medium (not regular acrylic medium, but specifically acrylic gel medium)
  • JetPrint Photo brand Matte Imaging & Photo paper (used to be Great White brand)
  • Apollo brand ink jet transparencies

Here's what I found...
  • It doesn't matter what brand of photo paper you use, it won't work.  Because acrylic medium is a glue, therefore putting two pieces of paper together with medium between and brayering over is going to make the papers adhere together.  You try to pull off the backing paper with your printed image from the receiving paper, and the papers have been glued together!  Photo paper to fabric also didn't work for the same reason.
  • Transparencies are the only vehicle that work for transferring an ink jet image, because the ink stays on the surface of the film, even though the image dries.
  • You can transfer an image printed on transparency film with water.  In the photo above, the top images on the left were transferred with water onto paper.
  • You can also transfer images with acrylic medium, but it doesn't have to be GEL medium.  In fact, I prefer regular matte acrylic medium over gel matte acrylic medium.  The bottom photo on the left was done with Blick Matte Medium (transferred to muslin), the images on the right (top on paper, bottom on fabric) with Golden Soft Gel Medium.  The gel medium left a more plasticy finish on the paper and cloth.
I haven't tried any other brand of transparency than Apollo, so I can't tell you whether other brands work.  Apollo is not quick drying, which is good for image transfers.  Although I'm not sure what difference it makes since the image will have dried anyway by the time you transfer it.

The JetPrint Photo paper was difficult to find.  I purchased some at eBay a week or so ago.  Although I'd never use it again to attempt image transfers, I can say that images printed on it are quite lovely, and I'll use them in their own right for mixed media projects.

I hope this is useful information.  If you're adept at image transfers I'd be willing to bet your experience is different than mine.

Oh, and one more tip I learned this week ~ you can print images on tissue paper ironed onto freezer paper (like you would do to print directly on fabric).  The images are about as transparent once they've been adhered to a substrate as they'd be if the image had been transferred using the above methods.


Aussie Jo said...

I will have to try using overhead transparencies, I wonder if it would work with any transparency brand.
I have used Dylon imagemaker which gives a nice distressed transfer finish on fabric using good quality photocopies.

Jan said...

You're speaking a language I recognize but haven't learned... :-)

I do love the logical way you approach new techniques--such a contrast to your intuitive, creative side. Both are so strong and powerful.


Judy Sall Fiber Art said...

I haven't tried transferring images much... the one time I did, I noticed the fabric felt really rubbery, but I did get a good transfer. Think it was bubble jet. Thanks for sharing your experiments!

Sandy said...

Thanks for sharing your experiments. I haven't done that much with transfers and it's been a while. Some worked, some Didn't.

jenclair said...

I've had success printing directly to fabric adhered to freezer paper, but it depends on what I'm transferring. I bought some images from an Etsy shop that you download, and they worked beautifully. Have you tried Lesley Riley's TAP? I have some, but haven't tried it yet.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Thanks for the info, Connie. I got good results from the Jet Print photo paper I had but haven't done anything for ages.