Saturday, June 25, 2011

Easy Image Transfers

I have been fascinated by image transfers for a very long time. They allow for the most beautiful layering, providing a ghost-like image on the surface with any number of interesting patterns, texts, or designs showing through from beneath.
{recent journal page using two image transfers}

I read about them for at least a year before trying one, daunted by such “specialized” tools as toner-based photocopy machines, heating tools, blender pens, and water slide decal paper.

One of the earliest methods I tried used clear packing tape, and while it was super-simple, I felt really limited by the narrowness of the tape, and I wasn’t a fan of a vintage-looking transferred image with a high-gloss surface.

And then I discovered clear contact paper.

The image transfer technique I am describing here is probably covered in any book that talks about image transfer, so it is definitely not something I came up with. But I’ll share how I do it, because I think it is so incredibly fast and easy, and has surprisingly good results.

To make an image transfer with clear contact paper, choose whatever images you want to transfer. I have always used pictures from magazines and catalogs.

You will also need clear contact paper (which can be found at your local Target or Target-like store, where they sell shelf paper), scissors, and a bone folder (though really you can just use the handle end of your scissors in place of this tool).
{My husband asked me incredulously, "What are you taking a picture of???"}

All you have to do is take the backing off the contact paper, and place the pictures you want to transfer face-down onto the adhesive side of the contact paper. You use the bone folder (or scissor handles) to rub, rub, rub (also called “burnishing”) against the back of the picture. I probably rub more than is strictly necessary, but I like my results, so I stick with it.
{Notice that these are the BACKS of the images I want to transfer.}

Then you drop the pictures (now attached to the sticky contact paper) into a dish pan of water. (I cut each image apart, just so it fits in the pan better.)  I just turn on the faucet and pour it in, without any concern for temperature.
{I usually put in three or four to soak at a time.}

Let the pictures sit for a couple of minutes. Seriously, I am an impatient crafter; I’ve let them sit for maybe one or two minutes, and it has been enough to make a great transfer.

After a couple of minutes, take a picture out and rub your finger against the paper side, peeling away at the layers of paper.
The image has adhered to the sticky side of the contact paper; you’re just trying to remove all the remaining paper pulp.
Don’t get impatient and use your fingernail, or the image will scratch away too (unless, of course, you are going for some sort of scratched effect for your transfer!).  Sometimes I hold them under a running faucet to take the paper off.

Then you just lay them out to dry on wax paper.

You can see some white areas on these transfers; those are places where a little more paper pulp remains. I just run them under the faucet and rub a little bit more. Oftentimes, it’s so little that you will find that it doesn’t take away from the “look” of your transfer once you layer it onto your work.

I just did these transfers about 30 minutes before writing this post, so I haven’t used them in any work yet. But I’ve put them on top of some different papers—text, graph, decorative—so you can get an idea of the effect.

To do a single image transfer takes ten minutes at the most. To me, the impatient creator, this is far preferable to techniques that require, say, multiple coats of gel medium with time to dry between each layer. Tedious!

The only “specialized” equipment you need is contact paper, and that’s readily available. The results are pretty great!

Just remember to store your image transfers on wax paper until you are ready to use them. They’ll stick to regular paper, and pull off additional pulp if you try to take them off to use somewhere else.

Have fun with these! They are an amazing addition to art journal pages and other projects.

There is a good chance that I won't be posting to my blog next week, because I will be teaching a class that will keep me super-busy most of the day.  Many of you are employees/moms/artists/bloggers all at the same time, but I'm not used to that kind of workload!  During my one-week of the year as a working mom, I 'm not sure I'll be able to give much time to my art or my blog.  But I'll be back the following week! 


Janet said...

Thanks for this easy transfer technique. I've never done much with transfers for the same reason you said....too many special things needed and the few times I used gel medium it didn't work for me. But this looks like something I can do! I'm getting some contact paper tomorrow and giving this a try.

Michelle said...

Thank you for this. I can't recall ever hearing about the contact paper image transfer. I love it!!!! Off to get some clear contact paper.

NLT said...

You are re-inspiring me to make some new work....I too prefer the look of contact paper vs. the packing tape...Hey I had my husband bring home weird xerox errors from his job, they were in the recycling bin...those are fun to layer as well if you want to add some abstract texture to the mix! Can't wait to see more of yours!!

J.A. Martin said...

This sounds like a transfer technique I can do! I'm going to have to add clear contact paper to my next shopping list. Thanks for sharing! :-)

VivJM said...

Ooh, I think I could try that! Like Janet, haven't had any luck with gel medium and too scared to try other things lol!

Would contact paper be the stuff you use to cover schoolbooks? Sometimes the terms are different here in the UK.

Anne said...

Remember when we tried this on one of my visits? I loved the effect and even did a few after I got home. So-o easy ... and effective. I really liked your woman/leaf branches layout. Good luck this next week. Hope the girls do well with the child care and you have fun with your work.

shawn said...

This was just what I was wondering how to do!!! Thanks for the info :)

Andria said...

I'm glad so many of you are interested in trying this! I look forward to seeing your results.

Viv, I'm not positive that the book covers are the same thing, but I bet they are. Someone just today made a reference to "covering books with clear contact paper," so that sounds like it is! :-)

Dianne said...

great tutorial, and really cute tags too! thanks for stopping by my blog & leaving a comment. it's so appreciated.

milkcan said...

Awesome! I love tape transfers! Yours turned out fabulously!

Elizabeth said...

I have always done packing tape transfers because of their ease but they do limit me in way. I can't wait to get clear contact paper tomorrow and transfer away!!!! THANKS for sharing.

Parabolic Muse said...

Oh, WOW! I didn't even know there was any such thing as clear contact paper! I was also bummed about the narrowness of packing tape.

I am going to try this, you bet. Thanks for the really clear tutorial!

clear. hehee!

Beansieleigh said...

Love this technique, and as soon as I can purchase some of this contact paper, I'll have to give it a try! TFS! ~tina

Kezia said...

THis is So easy and awesome too! Thanks a lot! My name is Kezia and I'm 13!

Katzkradyll said...

but what do you use to adhere the contact image transfer to the background? that is not mentioned? do you iron it on, glue it and if so what type of glue do you use? medium?

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Wailea Dive Co said...

I didn't see the answer to how to adhere the image to your project. I want to do this with my 3rd grade art class next week. Any comments?

Andria said...

With this type of transfer you will want to adhere it to your projects using gel medium.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering the same thing? What do you do after the image is transferred, it's not mentioned? Did you ever get a response? I want to transfer to a t shirt.

Unknown said...

just found this tut, yes, how do you adhere to your project once transferred?????

Unknown said...

After you have soaked the image and rubbed away the paper, you then let it dry. To adhere it you just stick it on your item like a sticker (the contact paper is sticky). If you are ironing it o to fabric, you lay the image down where you want it, cover it with parchment paper and iron it on.

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