By now you’ve read several informative posts on various image transfer techniques and some of the trials and tribulations related to the different processes. Hopefully you’ve been inspired to try some of them yourself. I know it sure has helped me overcome my transfer phobia, and I now have oodles of tips and tricks to help me on my way.
Our little “challenge” was inspired by a book called Image Transfer Workshop: Mixed Media Techniques For Successful Transfers by Darlene Olivia McElroy & Sandra Duran Wilson, which Glenda of TwoCoolTexans reviewed for us not too long ago. Included in this very informative book were a few techniques that some us felt begged debate inasmuch as calling them true “image transfers”. One of these techniques is called Homemade Inkjet Fabric (found on page 38). As for myself, my interest quickly waned from debating the issue, to realizing that for those of us on very limited budgets, this technique might prove quite useful. I’ve been infatuated with the idea of fusing paper and fabric, and the integration of different textiles in my mixed media work. However, fabric sheets marketed for use in printers, like many artist supplies, can be quite costly. This technique just may help me realize a new endeavor, as well as save my pocketbook from further abuse.
Excitedly, I quickly gathered the noted supplies: natural fabric, freezer paper, iron, etc. I decided to use images scanned from old Needlework magazines from the 1920s, since I had in mind a “seamstress” type theme for another upcoming challenge. Using Gimp, I reduced, edited for color and saturation, then imported all the images into one 8x10 inch file. I test printed on plain paper, and decided I was ready to go. Following the directions, I cut my fabric and freezer paper to just under the standard 8 ½ x 11 inches while I let my iron heat on the suggested medium setting. Fully gung-ho now, I placed my fabric over the shiny side of the freezer paper, put my pressing sheet over that, and ironed... and ironed... and ironed. The edges and corners of the fabric just would not adhere to the freezer paper as well as it did in the center. I removed my thin pressing sheet and ironed directly on top of the fabric. This seemed to work!
Well, as you can see by this first photo, it didn’t. As the fabric/freezer paper cooled down from the ironing, it curled. In addition, the fabric corners came apart from the freezer paper. Even manually feeding it through my printer didn’t help the situation. As you can see, the sheet curled and caught as it was run through the printer.
Okay, so I’m a very headstrong, stubborn, and some say my-own-worst-enemy sort of gal. I just tried over. I re cut fabric, freezer paper, and went to ironing. This time, I forgo the pressing sheet altogether and ironed directly on top of the fabric. And I ironed. And ironed. And ironed some more. As soon as I was done, I placed a heavy book on top of the little “sandwich” so it would cool flat. Again I manually fed it through the printer. Again, warped corners and an inky mess:
Now, the book suggests taping the corners of the fabric/freezer paper, but I’ll be darned if I’ll run that through my new printer. There just has to be way, I told myself. There’s certainly a will, third time a charm, and all that. I set to cutting more fabric and freezer paper. This time, I cut the pieces much larger, approximately 10 x 12 inches on the fabric, and the freezer paper about an inch smaller on all sides. I left my fabric face down on my ironing board, laid the freezer paper shiny side down on top of that, and ironed directly on the paper. Low and behold, the fusing began almost immediately, even the corners and edges. Again I let it cool under a book. However, not wanting to go through the hassle of cleaning my printer yet again, nor ruining more fabric, I hesitated. Then I spied a can of light spray adhesive. Aha! I cut through both the fabric and the freezer paper using a straight edge and a brand new blade bringing it down to just under 8 ½ x 11 inches. I flipped over my little sandwich, lightly sprayed the freezer paper side, then adhered it to a piece of copy paper using my brayer to run out any air bubbles. As you can see, the firm adhesion of fabric to freezer paper, backed by a bit of rigidity from the copy paper produced a nice clean image.
Very happy girl indeed. My intentions are now to cut out the images, fray the sides, and utilize them along with old patterns and sewer’s notions on tags I plan to swap. Here’s hoping those come along with far fewer mishaps. My advice after this frustrating experiment: sometimes when all else fails, disregard the instructions and follow your own inclinations. After all, art is an act of discovery and only through trial and error are those discoveries realized.