More on lutradur, Digital Ground and TAP

I have so many ideas about how to use my images and designs on lutradur, and I wanted to get more clarity on the difference between printing on it with Digital Ground and transferring onto it with TAP (Transfer Artist Paper).  Building on my earlier attempts with these two products, I decided to print the same images on them and see what happened.

Since it’s springtime I’m surrounded by butterflies in our garden and our house — we’re raising some monarch butterflies from eggs that were laid on the milkweed in our garden.  I’m going to put up a blog post about that, but if you want to see my closeup photographs now, visit the Monarch Butterflies gallery on my smugmug site.

It seemed natural, then, to do the experiment with some butterfly images.  I took my photographs  of a swallowtail butterfly and a monarch butterfly, and fashioned designs from one wing of each.  First I printed the wings on lutradur that I had coated with white matte Digital Ground (see my prior posts for detailed instructions).  I printed on the enhanced matte media and highest quality settings.  Next I printed the same files onto  TAP, using the settings that Lesley Riley recommends: plain paper and fine quality, and ironed the TAP onto the same weight lutradur.

The results are quite different. The monarch butterfly wing image on the right is the one I printed with the Digital Ground-coated lutradur, and the one on the left is the TAP transfer.

Lutradur printed with Digital Ground and TAP

Lutradur printed with Digital Ground and TAP

The DG print is much sharper, you can see more detail, whereas the resolution of the TAP wing is blurrier.  The colors on the TAP transfer are more saturated than the DG print.  I had the same results with the swallowtail design. You can see more vividly the difference in the color saturation.

Lutradur printed with Digital Ground and TAP

Lutradur printed with Digital Ground and TAP

This time, the print on the right is the TAP transfer, and the other one I printed using Digital Ground.

Another difference is how the back of the wing looks.  In this photo, the back of the swallowtail wing on the right is the TAP transfer. As you can clearly see, the image is much more visible from the back than the one on the left, the DG print.

Back of swallowtail wings on lutradur

Back of swallowtail wings on lutradur

Another difference I can’t photograph is how the wings feel.  TAP transfers are made of polymer, and the wing just feels a bit thicker than the DG print.

I haven’t priced out the difference in using TAP and DG, but in terms of time and effort, using the TAP is easier and quicker because coating the lutradur with Digital Ground takes longer to do and is more work than just ironing on the TAP.

Overall, I would choose one or the other method depending on what I wanted my end result to be. The main benefit of the TAP is that you can just print it and iron, no need to prepare the lutradur. However, the resolution of my images is extremely important to me.

I’m starting to post some earrings I’ve made from the wings on my artfire or etsy store, if you’re interested in checking them out.  I also have an online class that will teach you how to print on lutradur yourself.

Transfer artist paper on lutradur

Some people on the inkjet transfer yahoo group (inkjet_transfers@yahoogroups.com) were wondering about using Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) on lutradur.  Lesley Riley’s new book on lutradur says that TAP works on lutradur (and she invented TAP, so she should know!)  Since I’m having such a great time experimenting with lutradur,  I had to try these two interesting products together. I picked one of my current favorite photo collages as my first attempt.   I took a photograph of koi swimming in a pond at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, and blended it with my photograph of a bonsai wisteria tree. This is the digital image:

Koi and wisteria collage

Koi and wisteria collage

I printed the image on TAP using the recommended settings (media set for plain paper, resolution at fine quality).  The TAP print looked great, pretty much what like the image looks like on treated inkjet paper. I cut an untreated piece of lutradur inches larger than the image, because if it turned out well I figured I might do something fun with the edges, like use a heat gun to curl them.

I heated my iron to the highest setting.  I put the lutradur on my ironing surface, which is relatively hard and not as padded as a normal ironing board.  I cut the excess TAP from the edges of the image, as recommended. I positioned the TAP printout face down onto the lutradur, and placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the TAP. Pressing down firmly, I held the iron in place for about 10 seconds, then moved the iron to another spot until I had covered the entire surface. I peeled up an edge and saw that it had transferred completely. I checked the other edges and had to place the TAP down and re-iron a few spots.

After making sure the entire transfer had adhered, I peeled the TAP paper off.  I think the transfer is beautiful! The color and resolution are nearly as perfect as an inkjet paper print. I love the way the translucency of the lutradur allows light to shine through the image, and how the filaments and texture complement the image. I also think the abstract nature of the image, with its rich tones, worked really well on the lutradur.

This is the result:

Koi and wisteria on lutradur

Koi and wisteria on lutradur

This is a closeup of the bottom left edge, to show the filaments and texture of the lutradur, and how well the rich color transferred:

Closeup

Closeup

And another closeup of part of the transferred image:

Closeup

Closeup

I think if you pick the image carefully, a TAP transfer to lutradur is a great option. I’m not sure how well fine details will transfer, but I think that this abstract image with its rich colors worked great.  Considering that in order to print this image directly onto the lutradur I would have to coat it with Golden’s Digital Grounds (see my other blog posts on that subject), using the TAP was certainly quicker and easier.  When I decide how to finish the piece I’ll post an update.

Printing with Golden’s Digital Grounds on Lutradur

I made a blended photo collage from my photographs of a hen’s feather and a white phalaenopsis orchid. The end design is abstract, although you can see the feather shape repeated three times in the center of the piece. I shifted the colors to get subtle golds and shades of blue.

Phalaenopsis and feather collage

Phalaenopsis and feather collage

I prepared a piece of lutradur for inkjet printing by coating it with Golden’s Digital Ground matte (see my posts about lutradur and digital ground), and printed the collage. I backed the print with thick Pellon interfacing, and sewed along some of the lines of the image.

This is the printed/quilted piece (it’s 5 by 7 inches):

Phalaenopsis and feather collage

Phal/feather collage on lutradur

This is a closeup of part of the lutradur print, to show the quilting:

Phal/feather collage printed on lutradur and quilted

Phal/feather collage printed on lutradur and quilted

I decided to finish the lutradur print by mounting it to a 9 by 12 inch canvas board.  To enlarge the phal/feather image so it would fill the blank portions of the board, I printed segments of the image on Transfer Artist Paper (see my posts about TAP).  I transferred the segments to the canvas board with my iron set on the cotton setting.

Phalaenopsis and feather collage

Phal/feather collage, TAP on canvas board

This is a closeup of one of the corners.  The TAP transfer to the cotton board resulted in a pleasing texture, and the abstract nature of the design worked well with the transfer, I think.

Phalaenopsis and feather collage

Phal/feather collage - TAP on canvas

When the weather permits, I will spray the piece with fixative (probably Golden’s new archival varnish because that was designed for use with digital grounds prints).

The end piece, with the lutradur adhered to the center of the canvas board, will look like this:

Phal/feather collage, lutradur and TAP on canvas

Phal/feather collage, lutradur and TAP on canvas

To hang, I will probably drill two small holes near the top of the piece and string with metal chain.  Alternatively, I might put the piece into a frame.    I finally decided how to hang the piece!  I  drilled two small holes near the top.  I wanted to reinforce the holes, but normal eyelets aren’t long enough to go through the canvas board and grab onto the other side.  The only grommets I could find were much too large for the effect I wanted.  I finally found some slightly longer eyelets and set them.  I debated stringing decorative chain or wire, but dug out some raw leather cord I have, and decided it worked well with the tone of the piece.  I’m very happy with it now, see what you think.

Upper corner of piece with leather cord as hanger

Upper corner of piece with leather cord as hanger

Completed piece, with leather cord as hanger

Completed piece, with leather cord as hanger