Acrylic Transfers

Acrylic transfer of digital collage to canvas
Bamboo © 2010 Liz Ruest. Based on Shelter.

Digital photographs, composition, and manipulation are great fun, but I do miss the hands-on aspect of art. I’m playing with acrylic transfers as a way to combine both worlds.

I’ve tried transfers before, as a way to incorporate imagery into collage pieces. But this article posted by Blue Mitchell reminded me that I could use it for the complete image.

These pieces are some of the items I’m submitting to the artEAST holiday show today. The show requirements were 6″x6″, so I bought some small canvases, cut down some sample prints from my current portfolio (click each picture to see the original work), and reacquainted myself with the transfer process.

Liz Ruest: Acrylic transfer of digital collage to canvas
Bark © 2010 Liz Ruest. Based on Verdigris.

First, and most important, is knowing that the image will be reversed. Text just doesn’t translate, and I’m so good at forgetting that important reversal step.

Next, the transfer medium affects the work. I like a fluid matte medium, as it’s not quite transparent and adds a sense of age or mystery, but the layers can build up too much and obscure the work. Gloss gel dries clear and might be better for the actual transfer.

So: I get an image that I like and coat it with an acrylic medium. Building up at least a few layers leads to a sturdier piece. I coat the destination (here, the 6×6 canvases) with more medium and place the image face down, smooth it out, and let it dry overnight.

Acrylic transfer of digital collage to canvas
Mirage © 2010 Liz Ruest. Based on Dry.

Now for the fun and magic! I rough up the back of the image paper with sandpaper, then soak it under warm water. I gently scrub it with sandpaper, a rough sponge, or my fingers, until the paper distintegrates. As the paper rubs off, the image appears, embedded in the acrylic medium!

The acrylic is delicate and can rip. Removing the paper seems best when I use my thumbs, but they can get quite raw, as Blue warns in his article. The first round never seems to get all the paper off, so I get plenty of hands-on time.

Final touches usually involve dealing with any mistakes: ripped acrylic, rough edges, or paper that refuses to go away. Another layer or two of paint and sealant finish off the work nicely.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Pingback: Liz Ruest » Birch
  2. Pingback: Liz Ruest » Bark
  3. Pingback: Liz Ruest » View

Chime in!