Image transfer

This is a technique I read about in Embellish and have now assembled all the materials.   My sample fabric is  a fine twill, I think Rayon.  It’s a remnant from a beloved pair of trousers which were both comfortable and attractive. Before beginning the image transfer process I cut an 8×10″ rectangle from my fabric. I set up my work area by covering my cutting board with a plastic tarp. I don’t secure the tarp with tape, as I’ve seen some do. But I do smooth the tarp and smooth the fabric to be worked on.

I printed an design from Art Nouveau Second Series a Dover book with limited free use.  Since I have no intention of resale, I think I’m within copyright limitations by sharing it here:
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I printed this on transparency paper using a HP1401 Ink Jet printer set to “Best”. I wanted the richest colors my printer can produce. I didn’t print on the normal side.  Transparency paper has a very slick side and then a rough side.  You can’t see it, but you can feel it and normally you print on the rough side.  That’s because the rough side is a special coating which has been applied to the transparency to help it hold the ink.  I didn’t want the paper to hold the ink. I wanted the transparency to support the ink in a desired shape (i.e. the selected Art Deco design) just until I could transfer it to my fabric. I printed on the slick side.

I’m using Liquitex Matte Super Heavy Gel as my transfer medium.  I didn’t include a picture because this stuff doesn’t photo well.  It’s inside a white jar with a plain label.  The stuff itself (the gel) is a white thick cream.  It’s not quite modeling paste but I have seen some very soft clays about the same consistency.  I scooped it out of the jar and onto my pallet (I use a piece of trash plastic) and then used a brush to apply the gel onto my fabric.  I “painted” a square slightly larger than my design.  I probably used a full teaspoon full to coat a 3×4 rectangle.

I immediately place the transparency ink-side down upon the fabric where it was coated with the gel.

Several tools are suggested for burnishing.  I just bought a small brayer (even as I start this one, I’m thinking and acquiring tools for the next project.) I used the small brayer rubbing back and forth, across, up and down on the back of the transparency for about a minute.  I peaked at the result, by holding the transparency in one corner with my left hand, while lifting the opposite corner with my right.  It was look good, but there was still some ink on the transparency so I lowered the corner and burnished  for another minute before lifting the transparency completely off.

The result is a soft, elegant image. I was forewarned that it would not be a crisp hard image. It has the effect of what you would expect on a well-worn and loved item of clothing; or something vintage which has faded with time, sun exposure and laundry.

The gel medium itself adds a little stiffness.  I wouldn’t mind the stiffness on a garment if it’s only in one place. But I wouldn’t buy a fabric for garment use if the entire fabric was this stiff.  I would use it for craft, purses, home dec items.

I’m not displeased with my results.  This was easy and relatively quick.  I knew to expect the soft, worn-appearance. But I’m not sure I will use this technique exactly in this fashion.  I sometimes like a soft edge such as with sun-prints or splatter bleaching but I don’t often use those techniques.  At the moment, I can’t think of when I would ever use this type of a print as is.

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