Using inkjet transferred imagery in
mixed-media collage by Bobbi Studstill
For almost 10 years, I have been using transferred imagery in both my textile and paper collage work. For some time I used scanned images and text, until I acquired my first digital camera and now prefer to use my own images. Originally, I used heat transfers, employing Avery T-shirt transfer paper, even though it embarrasses me to admit to using something so "crafty"! The Avery product, especially cool-release is, in my opinion, the superior product. Once, I tried to save a few dollars by purchasing the Office Depot brand...I used one sheet and took it back with a complaint! It was more shiny and plastic than anything I had ever used. I supposed, if an oilcloth look would have been desired, then it might have been useful. It would not adhere to paper at all, only fabric.
I researched other techniques of transferring imagery, acetone or wintergreen oil on copier images, or that citrus-y stuff (Citra-Solve). There was a time I used some Heat-and-Bond-type product with color copies, and once used some acrylic medium with color copies. It took hours to get all the residual paper off. Tedious! And messy.
About 5 years ago, I heard others were again transferring images (inkjet, not copier) with acrylic medium and rolled my eyes. Been there, done that! I studied the technique used by Lesley Riley, wherein she uses inkjet transparency as print medium, applies acrylic medium to surface to be transferred to, then places the image face-down and burnishes and voila! Transfer! Similar to a Polaroid transfer. Hmmmm....my studio-mate and friend, Traci Bunkers and I, spent many days in the studio trying this and I was very displeased with the results, as if there were a secret ingredient or step missing, that I was not allowed to know. Eventually, with much waste of materials, I managed to create some fairly presentable images. The color was also not pleasing. All images from the transparencies had a blue tinge and were shiny. And it was a VERY insecure process. But somehow I was drawn to make this technique work for ME.
One night I came into the studio and Traci yelled, "I think I figured it out!!!" She had purchased some of the now-famous "Great White" paper and had been experimenting all day with Golden Matte Medium. She had produced *perfect* transfers with just a bit of grunge. We experimented all night, but I still did not feel successful until I began to use the Epson Heavyweight Matte Photo Paper and the Golden Soft Gel Matte Medium. We each had different printers and I think mine just preferred the Epson paper. Later, Traci generously shared her technique with Lesley's Inkjet Transfer group on Yahoo and Traci's paper technique has become one of the standard transfer techniques, with variations, of course. There are now different variables to work with - new inkjet dyes and inks, an incredible variety of papers and and print medium. It is all great fun.
Lately I have had most transfer success using Office Depot inkjet transparencies, but then I am on my 3rd printer since beginning to use this technique. I also use the paper method still, with Jet-Print matte photo paper, but I note the technique works best if the prints rest one or two days before transferring. With the Epson Durabright inks, the image does not "slide" off, as it did with the older inks, a little finger-rolling to remove paper debris is required. but once the image is under varnish or wax, it is not really an issue.
The joy of using transferred imagery is that you have a means of working with transparency, which is an ongoing goal for me in my work. yes, I love photoshop and the things it can do and i have learned to do them well, but still there is nothing as gratifying to me as manual art made with my hands with materials that I can touch. However, I love depth and layers, illusion and hidden secrets (only in artwork, thank you very much). I like to try to create a dreamworld with both digital and traditional media.
These days, as time becomes less available, and I often don't have the patience for experiments and failed transfers, I have begun to adhere the entire transparency into my collages, or to tear apart polaroid photos. I have been using tissue and transparent acrylics and beeswax. As my "studio" has become a 6' square corner of my living room, my work has become smaller and I am working with limited materials in serial artworks or books. The leftover scraps end up in the visual journal or into "rebel art cards" - NOT to be mistaken for ATC's! as I am too rebellious to use a standard size.
Most work will include transferred imagery (my own photos), gesso, stitches, dressmaker materials. The possibilities are endless and nothing is sacred. Current imagery includes self-portraiture, cemetery sculpture, pairs of chairs, architectural elements, found text and ghost trucks. Rather than mounting, matting, framing, I have been investigating the construction of stand-alone paper objects.
Paper constructions (collages) seem to be my primary artform these days.Ê I will cut up and glue anything I can find -Ê foreign travel books from the library sale...fashion and feng shui magaziness...my photos...pieces of paper...pieces of words...stuff I find on the ground or hidden in library book pages....wrappers from the items my daughters bring home from visiting dad in Taiwan...scans of my textile constructions...things I find at sales. If something feels too precious I will scan it and print it maybe in odd colors and then whack it up.
I seldom buy art materials other than the luscious Golden Soft Gel Matte, an occasional Staz-On or Brilliance stamp pad, glue stick, gesso, inkjet transparencies and canvas board. Oh. And of course...LOTS of Epson ink cartridges. Everything else is scrap or found papers or art supplies I have too many of already. I am coming to enjoy working within limitations, so perhaps this experience of the small space has been a good one. I know it has not stopped me!
Mixed media work is a way for me to communicate an idea or words that I can not create with the language I have been taught to speak and write.
bobbi studstill: 06 05 see more of her work here. .