When I heard that Lesley Riley's TAP Transfer Artist Paper took the Innovations prize at CHA last month, it didn't surprise me. Image transfers have been popular among mixed-media and collage artists ever since I can remember, and from what I understand, this product makes them easier than ever.
But part of the beauty of transfers, as Lesley herself would say, is that they are not perfect. As she wrote in Part I of her "Transfer Master Class" article in the Summer 2005 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, "If you want perfection, forget transfers and print the image directly on paper or fabric."
But while what makes a "good" transfer is often up to chance and in the eye of the beholder, you can up the odds of getting a usable result with the following tips:
If you're transferring onto fabric, use one that has a tight weave that yields a smooth surface. Otherwise, the ink will hit the high, nubby spots and miss the low spots.
You can get some interesting results with patterned fabric and paper, just be sure to position your image so that the pattern won't interfere with the image, as it will show through.
To get a soft, "lost edge" effect, use less pressure as you work out to the edges of the image.
If you get white spots where the inks didn't transfer, don't despair. Try adding color to those spots with fluid acrylic paint, oil pastels, or even instant coffee granules.
You can transfer images onto aluminum flashing (available at hardware stores). Use freshly made toner (not inkjet) copies of black-and-white images and a combination of ironing and burnishing the copy onto the metal.
Another way to make transfers is to use Translucent Liquid Sculpey, a bakeable liquid polymer medium. This medium gives the resulting image a crisp and yet still "dreamy" look, and can be used in collage or fiber art.
We covered all of these techniques in detail in the first five issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. Alas, these issues are out-of stock as stand-alone print copies. However, they just became available in the new Cloth Paper Scissors 2004-2005 CD Collection. The collection contains everything from the original issues, just as printed, including "Transfer Master Class" Parts I & II by Lesley Riley, "Metal Heads: Image Transfers on Metal" by Janette Schuster, and "Translucent Transfers" by DJ Pettit. You can easily skip from issue to issue and article to article, and even print them out.
Just looking at these articles again made me want to grab some photos, fabric, paper, and metal and head for the studio. There are so many variations!
Tell me, how do you like to make and use image transfers? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below.