Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Inkjet transfers with Australian materials

On Monday I decided to get methodical about a technique which can be challenging at best. For some reason, I love the idea of transfers. It offers so many options for working with imagery - both my own and "found images" from the public domain. So in order to sort out what I needed to do, I decided to test out some methods until I found one that I could get to work for me reliably.

Part of the issue with this is that while there is a lot of information and advice out there on the net and in books it all tends to be with American products. Some of those are available here but many are not, and by the time you order things online and pay postage, well... and besides, call me strange, but I like supporting Australian products.

I should explain that inkjet transfers seem to be more temperamental than those using laser copies or xerox/toner copies. There is a lot of variability between printer inks, gel mediums,transfer papers and method used. I bought a new photo printer before Christmas with one of the goals being to be able to use archival inks so that I could incorporate transfers into my artwork. After research I came home with a Canon Pixma i5200. The quality of the photos is great - I could not be happier, but I discovered that while the ChromaLife 100 inks it uses are just as archival as the ones used by Epsons, they are not waterproof. Luckily for me, this hasn't actually been the problem I thought it might. Surprisingly, you can spray the image with fixative or even hairspray (I prefer Cedel for that scent of the 60s....) and it will still transfer but it doesn't run. Go figure, as They say. So it should be known that after printing, each of the following transfer images were sprayed, in this case, with Micador fixative.

So here we go.

First I tested out Jonathon Talbot's method, which you can find here in its original form with full US supplies. I had used it successfully with a colour image in a work which appeared in an earlier post (thanks to Kelsey for her advice on this.)

You can see the problem I had - the green and red inks transfered separately. This was the same for both, although you can work through the green and achieve the sort of reddish brown you see here. The Golden definitely gives you a clearer image, which may or may not be what you are after with a transfer.

Next test: DJ Pettitt's method.

This method has been circulating furiously on the internet of late in the groups I frequent anyway, as has this modification. For some reason, I started with the modification but I just could not get it to work at all. It leaves a layer of gel on the receiving surface, and I could not pull off the transfer without pulling all or most of the gel right off the page. Obviously I was doing something wrong, but I moved on to the original method and here are the results. First I should discuss the issue of sandwich/deli paper. Just what is this? Well it is a very lightly waxed paper used to wrap sandwiches in deli's. It doesn't really look or feel waxed but it is greaseproof. You can't seem to get it in supermarkets in Australia. In the end I did a Yellow Pages search for catering supplies and found a lovely Queensland company who couriered me a very generous sample! Did I feel guilty! So I suppose I should give them a plug. You can find them at and I tried the Caxton Greaseproof Unbleached. However, these two transfers were done using Glad Bake which is available is supermarkets. You have to cut it to
size, which is a hassle, and feed it through your printer very carefully, but it will work. One tip though - make sure you use a nice sharp blade for cutting because any slight defect in the paper edge seems to send the printer mad.

Both of these were done with Golden soft gel (matte) which has proved the most hopeful in the test with the "modified method". I was really happy with this result. It's a little grainy - that's from the fixative spray, but I like the way the brush strokes show, there's good colour and good responsiveness to burnishing.

On Tuesday my "real" sandwich paper samples arrived, so I gave them a try.

And this is the result: Now this is onto canvas, and I have to say I was thrilled!

Well I hope this little review is of some help to someone, especially if you are in Australia and like me are finding the hunt for comparable materials a bit of a drag.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Thanks Amanda. This is very helpful for us Aussies. The paperboys site is a gold mine as well. I'm off to my local catering supplies place.