Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Image Transfer, Part II

Next step - how to get the image transfers, which at this point are like thin rubber sheets, onto an actual clay piece?

Two problems to overcome. First, the transfers are translucent. So to make the image really "pop" it needs to be over a light colored surface. And since white is not an ink color but rather an absence of ink, any white in an image transfer is actually just an empty area that will go from translucent to transparent when properly heated. So to keep the white in an image, the surface you apply it to needs to be white. But what if you don't want your finished piece to be white? That would be pretty boring, if everything you made with transfers had to be white!

With that in mind, I decided to put a thin white backing on my transfers so that I can then apply them to any color surface and not lose the "pop". Or the white where it should be white. So first I made a sheet of Premo white, #5 on the pasta machine. After carefully trimming the transfers I laid them over the white sheet, cut out the background shape I wanted, then removed the transfers. I then baked the white pieces and sanded the tops, to get a very smooth surface to apply the transfers to.

To permanently adhere the liquid clay transfers to the cured white clay, I need to use a thin layer of liquid clay as "glue" to form the bond. Now here's where dilemma #2 comes in. The white backing bakes at 275*, any higher and it will most likely burn. (Will definitely burn, I should say, as I tried it at 300. I had to see for myself.) But the liquid Kato, according to the manufacturer's website, should be baked at 300* for 20 minutes to get a matte finish, then at 350* for another 10 minutes to achieve crystal clarity. What to do, what to do ....

I ended up doing it in two steps. First I brushed a thin layer of the liquid Kato onto the backs of the transfers, smoothed them onto the white backings and baked at 275* for 15 minutes. That gave me a bond without burning anything but left the surface of the transfers very dull and matte. I still need to get the liquid clay hot enough to clear it up and make it glossy. Without burning the white clay.

So I got the heat gun out and did a couple of pieces without applying any more liquid clay. That did not work out very well as the exposed white Premo clay areas burned. I was pretty sure that would happen but had to try it anyway.
With the remaining pieces, I brushed a layer of the liquid clay over the entire top, hoping that would protect the white Premo areas from the heat gun, and it did! Was able to clear up the liquid clay and get a nice glossy surface, with no burning.


The cured pieces are thin enough they can be still be trimmed with scissors if desired (though next time I will make the backings thinner, as thin as I can) and are ready to be made into ... somethings.

As I continue to go along, I am sure that I will be able to shorten this process, combine or eliminate steps, etc. But for now I am happily moving along, learning as I go. Which by the way, here are a few things I have learned so far.

#1) Most tutorials I have read re using liquid clay say to apply it in very thin layers, cure, and repeat if desired to build up thickness. When I brushed it on as thin I could, I did not get very good results. It ended up with a sort of crackly texture. I got better results applying it a bit thicker.

#2) I have also read that if you let the liquid clay sit for a bit (after brushing it on) before heating it, it will help it "seek its level". So I let a few pieces sit
for about 20 minutes. I did not get results with that; the liquid clay sort of contracted, leaving "naked" areas all along the edges. So I had to add a little more to work it back out to the edges.

I've experimented in the past but failed to note anything I did, assuming I would remember the do's and dont's I'd learned later. Not so! :( So this time I am noting what I am doing. Makes for very boring blog posts, but lets me remember what I did. ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Image Transfer Trials

Images were printed on an HP Photosmart Plus inkjet printer and I used Kato liquid clay. Except for as seen in #3 where I tried TLS. The Kato looks a tad bit sharper, and I thought the Kato was easier to brush on. Which is what I did - simply brushed a thin layer of the liquid clay onto the image, then baked on a cookie sheet.

With the first and second tries, after the clay cooled, I let the paper soak in water for about 10 minutes, and then worked on scrubbing the paper away. NOT fun. And not practical for doing lots of pieces. And took the ink off with the paper.

On the third try, with the Avery transfer paper, I dunked the papers in ice water immediately after removing from the oven. But I only let them sit for about a minute. I wanted them to cool quickly but did not want the paper dissolving into a mess that would be hard to remove. So after a quick dunk, I peeled the paper right off - no scrubbing and great color transfer. Hooray!

First TryRegular "multi-purpose" copy paper.
Set with heat gun.
Soaked & all paper scrubbed off.
Only a little black ink remains. :(
Second TryRegular "multi-purpose" copy paper.
Oven baked for ? minutes at ? temp.
Some color because the paper was not scrubbed completely off.
Nice & glossy surface. And bubbles. :(
Third TryAvery paper #3271
"Light Fabric Tranfers" for Inkjets
Baked 10 minutes at 275.
Paper was very easy to peel off.
Excellent ink transfer. :)
Third BatchAll of the third batch where I used the Avery paper.
19 of 20 came out great.
Can you spot the one that didn't?

The Avery transfer paper, I bought it at Walmart. Came in a pack of six 8.5 x 11 sheets for $12. At $2 a sheet, I didn't want to waste paper, so the hardest and most time-consuming part for me was trying to fill a sheet with multiple images, at the sizes I wanted them. I must have 30 different image-type programs on my computer but none of them seem suitable for this task. So after one test sheet I ended up putting the actual transfer sheet through the printer 4 times at different positions, to try to fill all of it. Gott'a be a better way.

Anyhow, that aside, I think this transfer method was pretty fast and simple. My next step now is to actually apply these transfers to cured pieces. That step scares me as I'm not sure of the proper baking time or temp to get them crystal clear without burning them. So uhm, suggestions/advice welcome ... ;)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tie-Dye For Tots

Some teensy little tee's and some "onesies". I did two pairs of baby socks, too, but they didn't come out. :( The dye did not take to them properly. Not sure why as I thought they were 100% cotton. But here's the shirts:

babyT_01How cute is that?! The perfect spiral tie-dye. :)

babyT_02Three color bulls-eye.babyT_03Another three color bulls-eye.
onsie_01Spiral onesie.onsie_02Bulls-eye onesie.
onsie_03Another bulls-eye onesie.onsie_04Pleated onesie.