Friday, March 8, 2013

Freeform Friday: My take on transfers...

Do you ever have those moments, those smack-on-the-forehead moments, where you ask yourself - "Why didn't I do this sooner!?!?!?!?"

I had one of those last week. Loud and clear. It involved images, toner copies to be exact, and polymer.
(I apologize in advance if this is old news to the polymer people out there. I know I am writing about a versatile, oft used method, and I am not adding any new earth shaking twist on the technique...)

Two years ago - I had an aside conversation with Robert Dancik in his Faux Bone class. He mentioned how easy polymer transfers were to do - press, bake, peel. I was skeptical. His fabulous book "Amulets and Talismans" describes the process the same way. I always have toner copies  in the studio, sorted into folders;  I use them often in mixed media collages. So - I was working in polymer ( which I do in sessions as I have to set up the oven etc...) and I tried it.

Heavens! Press, peel, bake! (Smooth polymer surface, rub image onto clay to stick it down, cure in oven with polymer on top of paper. Peel while warm. )So clean, clear, easy to read! 
I am excited with the possibilities! I used up all the rest of my conditioned clay: 

Plethora of pretties!
Color copies work! Reverse your image if you have text... 
  •  I rubbed the dragons tail while it was hot from the oven and it smudged a bit. After cooling everything seems stable, but I am testing a few glazes. I cant use this technique in a piece for sale until I am confident that it will hold up to wear.
  • The polymer piece used for the mermaid had a few wrinkles on the surface. Those areas didnt transfer well. 
  • I tried an image that had grey halftones ( the hippocampus or mer-horse below) and it wasn't as sharp and clear as I would have liked. 
  • I tried labyrinth images on slightly rounded organic shapes - only transferred where directly touching.
  • I plan to test some images with watercolors and alcohol inks, as well as the acrylics and heat-set oils I usually use on polymer. 


I have since my A-ha moment googled "image transfer on polymer" and there are a million hits. People talk of Lasertrans transfers, and printing onto T shirt transfer paper, using liquid Sculpey or Modge podge & wet rubbing the paper off the image after transfer... During my next polymer session in the studio I plan to try Laurie Mika's technique found in this clip. It seems fair to test other more traditional ( yet more labor intensive) methods. I personally think that streamlining the process is good. If I am creating a polymer image cab to set in a metal bezel, and then bead/wire wrap a necklace... the longer a piece takes to create - the more I will have to charge. But I want it to be with-out-a-doubt stable...

I would love to hear any thoughts from people who have tried other methods.  What methods have you tried? What worked? Did not work? What do you use to seal your images? 

PS: the results from the three sealants pictured above. I like all three and can see them each being the right choice in different applications. From L - R: satin, glass, matte. They are each very secure - I scratched rather hard at each image with my thumbnail!



  1. Great post Jenny, thanks for sharing your process and for the link to the 'mod podge' technique... I see some PC transfers in my future. I just adore PC...I think it's one of the most amazing and versatile mediums around.

  2. Thanks for an informative article!

  3. Thanks for reading! I cant wait to carve out some studio time and set these PC printed cabs!

  4. Fantastic! I love "aha" moments! I'm looking forward to seeing what you make with these.

    1. Thanks Jo - I was talking to the dogs since no humans were around. Its nice to have a place to share discoveries and excitement!

  5. Extremely awesome!!!! I think I may just have to play with that myself someday!!!!!


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