Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Week's Mission: Transfers!

"Everyone has a 'risk muscle.' You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don't, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day."

~Roger Von Oech

So this week we did transfers, which is pretty much like making your own iron-ons without buying anything too special. We did three kinds of transfers: Packing tape transfers, roller transfers and acrylic medium transfers. All no brainers, and here they are.

The first kind of transfer is a packing tape transfer. If you have any ideas of how this could be useful in anyway, please tell me. First of all, you need a picture taken from a cheap glossy magazine. Apparently trashy tabloid magazines work the best. I searched through tonnes of images of skinny supermodels, pictures of Britney, Lyndsey and Paris, and all sorts of ads, and eventually found this image that was graphic and cartoon-like.

I put strips of packing tape over the image, making sure not to make any creases in the tape. I burnished it down, then put it in a basin of hot tap water. A few minutes of soaking, the paper comes off and leaves the ink stuck to the tape.

Soaking in water.

The transfer held up to the light after the paper had been rubbed off.

Now what would I do with this? I'm not really sure. But this Grade twelve student made a packing tape Marilyn Monroe dress. Nice and see through and ready for a night out on the town!
Woo hoo! Who needs to spend lavishly on clothes for the bar?

Next, We did roller transfers.

Me and Juan, or Carlos, or Fernando, or Luis or whoever on the steps of the Capitolio in Havana.

We were told to come to school armed with two photo copies. for this first project, I used an image glued into my Cuba travel journal. There is a story behind it so please indulge me.

I went to Cuba in 2001, and it was the first trip I ever took by myself. In Havana, the only place to check email and let my parents know I was okay was at the Capitolio Building. On the steps of the Capitolio, there was an old man who would take your photo with a pinhole camera for a few bucks. He'd first make a negative, then a positive from that negative. The photos looked old and cool and so I decided I wanted one for the book.

So I paid the few bucks and sat down, and this Cuban guy walked over to me and sat down too. I asked him what he wanted, and he said, "You can't let people back home think you were completely alone in Cuba. I'll sit here in the photo with you and you can make up whatever story you want about me later." So we posed, we took the picture, and I ran away with the negative and the positive, which made him a little mad because he was hoping to make his own picture after I left. But I liked the negative too! (and I paid for the photo, so it's mine!)

That is actually the true story. I don't even know this guy's name. But the photo looked old and I thought it would be forgiving in case I screwed up the transfer. Which I did, so it worked out in the end!

My Cuban transfer on 100% Cotton.

How to make this transfer: put Opus gel medium (Like and acrylic glue- once it dried it's like waterproof stretchy plastic- the same consistency as acrylic paint) on the picture with a paint brush. Once it's even, stick it to some fabric that has a smooth surface.

The almighty brayer: useful for many, many things.

Roll it with a brayer (Roller) so the entire surface of the paper is stuck to the fabric. Leave it to dry about a week, stick it in water and gently rub the paper off and voila! You've got yourself a transfer.

My friend Marlene took a look at this and said, "Why are you wearing a big hat in this picture?" That's me, rubbing my head too hard.

I admit, I screwed this one up a little, because I got it mixed up with the next project. So I had started to put several layers of gel medium on this picture before I changed gears. Had it only had one layer like everyone else's, I don't think I would have been able to rub a little of the original image off like I did here. Live and learn!

Several Layers Glue transfer (sounds so Chinese!)

My uber-downloaded postcard.

This project started with my second photocopy. I made this image several months ago and posted it on this blog. Twenty billion people downloaded it for some reason, so I figured it might be a good image to work with.

Painting acrylic medium over the photocopied image. Apparently you can use water resistant varnish too.

I painted a layer of gel medium, and let it dry completely. then I painted it again with gel medium and let it dry completely. I even took it home and continued to do this. Finally, this morning, I put it in water and rubbed the paper off the back and had myself a paper transfer which I adhered with more gel medium to a painted piece of canvas. the idea is that we were making a floor cloth (Like a painted canvas carpet on the floor) but I am not too sure I'd make a floor cloth like this. First of all, I don't think it would be very washable. Bit some of the fine arts students in our class liked the idea because it would be an easy way to put a photocopied image on a canvas and have it be the same consistency of the paint. (Painting around photocopies always looks cheesy.)

My floor cloth with the transfer. If I had any acrylic kicking around I might paint the edges of the medium in to cover it up. But I paint in watercolour, which would be useless here.

Anyway, those are this week's experiments. Again, not sure when I would do this in my own life, but it is an interesting exercise to spark other people's creativity.

Next two weeks: Silk Painting! Then we break for Christmas and I can get back to painting and block printing for a little while.



  1. Your car - toon transfer wants to be a lampshade. I see it in an old Victorian house, sitting on the shelf above the radiator by the front door, shining down on the Indian brass bowl that holds the car keys.

  2. Lampshades! Good one!

    Seeing that I actually attended this one class, I'd like to see you try the cuban one on canvas again. It was quite cool!

  3. Yes, I will try that one. I just need to get a good image that will look good on Logwood purple. Scooter? Butterfly?

  4. I liked the photo with the young man and the story behind it. Did you really destroy it?

  5. I didn't destroy the actual image- that is still safely tucked inside my travel journal. I worked with a photo copy of it. The glue seemed to split a little after it dried and split across my face making me look like Ronald McDonald! Lol. So the story and the picture do still exist! ; )