Ever wondered how to create an image transfer print? Below are some basic directions.
STEP ONE: Create a color photocopy of the image you would like to transfer (above you can see my photograph of owl feathers I had printed on a laser copy machine- basic color copier at Staples). TIP: images transfer in reverse. You can set the copy machine to print in reverse to resolve this. Prepare a flat surface. In the photo is a wood panel wrapped with a map. I thinly painted the surface with white so that the map doesn’t compete with the feather image. You can get creative with the surface, as long as it is flat-ish (sand it smooth if necessary). I have even had luck transferring an image to a shell! Remember any white areas will be transparent in the process. This is why I used a map to add to the composition.
STEP TWO: Cut your color copy the same size as your flat surface (or bigger). Apply a good amount of glue to the color copy with a soft brush. I use Golden Matte Medium, but you may use any sort of glue (mod podge works too). If you are concerned about archival quality, use something a bit nicer that is acid-free so your image doesn’t yellow over time. This step is a quick one because you do not want the glue to dry. The wet glue allows the ink on the color copy to transfer to your surface. The more the better is my rule of thumb here. Turn the copy over so the ink side is touching the surface (for the transfer!).
STEP THREE: This is an important step! Take a brayer or other sort of tool to roll or press out the bubbles. In this photo, you can see a bubble right under my brayer. If I left that bubble, the image would not transfer in that spot because the color copy is not touching the surface. This is true for small bubbles too so I really take some time to add pressure while rolling. Keep a rag nearby because the glue will ooze out the sides (you added a lot of glue right?). After you have all the bubbles out, let it sit overnight to dry.
STEP FOUR: The LAST step! Take a clean cup of water and dribble it over your paper. Let the water soak in for a few minutes. Now get ready to put some elbow grease into this process. You must now rub off the paper. You will start to see your image peek through as you rub off the wet paper. My fingers get soar in this process, so I use a soft towel. Be careful to watch if some of the image starts to rub off- you may not have had enough glue there. You can correct this by slowing down and getting off as much as possible then apply a varnish. It may not be very smooth, but it is a good way to salvage the image. I add a UV/Light Sensitive varnish to all my transfer prints for archival purposes. You can get this at any art store (I use the Golden brand).
Good luck and let me know if you run into any issues I can help troubleshoot.
Below is the final result with my owl feather transfer print. This is in my SHOP if you want to purchase it. I added a touch of texture in the shape of birds. It needed a final touch. It also has a sawtooth hanger on the back for a quick installation in your house, or simply lean it like I have done in this photo.
Owls have a long history in mythology and folklore. The Greek goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom, had an owl as her symbol. This symbol of wisdom is common across ancient cultures. Because they are nocturnal they are often associated with the moon cycles and femininity. These particular feathers are from screech owls. Commonly found in the western United States, it is not uncommon to find them in forested backyards or public parks living alongside people.