There are so many ways to transfer images to your collages, altered books, and other mixed media projects. Every artist has favorites, and I thought that I would do a series of tutorials for you on the 7 methods that I like the best. I invite your input and comments during this short series: please share any additional tips that you can think of, your favorite products, your successes and failures. Or send me pictures of your work using transfers!
Polymer medium transfer films are fun to use in your work. Since they need to dry overnight, it’s a method that you can’t use when you’re in a hurry. But it’s a great method for preparing batches of images to store for later use. Magazine images and fully saturated printouts work well, and the process will not reverse the image, so writing can be included. Store them between sheets of parchment, freezer, or waxed paper.
1. Liquid polymer medium (the gloss style) works best for this technique. Use a sponge brush and apply 5 thin coats of medium, alternating directions of application and letting each coat dry thoroughly. Be very careful not to bubble the medium if you use a heat gun to speed the drying time. Personally, I don’t recommend it.
2. Let the image dry overnight. This part of the process really can’t be rushed. The medium needs time to absorb the inks and dyes.
3. Soak the image in water. If you’ve used a glossy magazine image, let it soak a good long time. Turn the image over and gently begin to rub away the paper from the back. Hot water will help the paper break down more quickly, but it also softens the image, leading to distortion if you are not careful. (You can use distortion to your advantage if you want though!) Cold water stiffens the polymer film back up. I find that alternating hot and cold works best for me. It will probably take several passes before all the paper has been removed. Once the film dries, you can see where more paper is still clinging. During this part of the process, the image turns milky. Don’t be concerned; it will dry clear again.
4. Use hot water to soften your image if you want to deliberately stretch and distort it now. Let the image dry thoroughly before using it in your work. You can store images for future use as mentioned above.
5. Apply a layer of polymer medium where you wish to position your image, and place the image with the ink side down. Since the image itself is also polymer medium, this creates a complete bond. Work out any trapped air bubbles. You can always stick them with a pin later, but it’s usually easier to deal with it now. If the image is too shiny for your liking, top it with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry.
Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.
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