Shelley and I spent an afternoon playing with image transfer. It’s a technique that had interested both of us and we finally set aside a bit of time to try it. Cursory researchoin the internet provided the information we needed to get started and we were fortunate to already have the materials we needed.
We worked on white Stonehenge drawing paper. I was also going to try illustration board, but I didn’t get further than the Stonehenge in this first attempt. We used Golden Clear Gel Medium (Glossy) for the transfer medium and images from magazines and greeting cards.
The basic process is to coat the image you’re transfering with the gel medium then burnish the image right side down into the Stonehenge. Once the gel dries, you dampen the back of the paper with the original image and gently rub it away. The idea is that the ink adheres to the gel medium and the paper can be rubbed completely away leaving the image. The image transfers in reverse, so if you’re transferring anything with letters or numbers and you don’t want them to be backwards you need to reverse your image on the computer first.
The image I tried from a greeting card was printed on very heavy and textured paper and I wasn’t successful in removing all the paper. Perhaps it would have worked if I had made a copy and worked with that.
For magazine images we selected magazines printed on nice heavy paper, specifically Martha Stewart and Architectural Digest. These images transferred quite well. The biggest problem I had was rubbing parts of the image away with the paper. I think this was because I didn’t get a good bond between the gel medium and the image. This may have been because the image tended to buckle once it got “wet” with the medium or it could have been due to brushstrokes in the medium. I tried putting gel medium on both the Stonehenge and the image. I got a more even transfer, but when I was burnishing the image to the Sonehenge, I inevitably got gel medium on the back of the image which made it harder to rub the paper away. I don’t know what to do about the buckling paper. On the other hand, I like the look when some of the image rubs off.
On the piece in the photo, I painted interference paints and sprinkled mica powders on the Stonehenge before I did the transfer. I wanted to see if the iridescence would should through, and it did – especially where the colors were lighter (and the ink presumably thinner). This is a look I really like.
Shelley did better than I did in getting evenly transferred images. We’re not sure what her secret was!
We didn’t try transfering any photocopies or injet printer copies and the ink would be completely different from the magazine inks. Also, some of the internet articles I read suggesting using self-leveling gel for a more even coat. I didn’t think we had any, but later we found some in with mother’s art supplies so we’ll have to remember to try it.
I don’t know what, if anything, we will do with image transfer in the future, but it was fun and definitely worth playing with some more. Shelley’s interested in mixed media and collage so I think she may be more likely to use it than I will, But you neveer know when you’re going to use a technique that you have learned.