How were the holidays for you? I had two 4-day weekends, bliss! Between the nature walks that my husband and I took, a couple of holiday parties, and a lot of cleaning-up of my workspace, I only managed to get a bit of artwork done. While organizing my towering piles of craft books I unearthed an 8×10″ gessoed wooden art board and decided to transfer one of my digital collages onto it.
I had designed the collage a few weeks ago. I started with a photo of a fallen tree with insect trails etched into it. I took the photograph on Albany Hill, a small local hill where monarch butterflies overwinter. We went in November to see whether any monarchs were there. We only saw a few, sadly — we had seen many more there in previous years.
This is the photograph of the tree:
I blended the photo of the tree with a photograph of a fern that I took during a walk we took in Muir Woods.
In blending the photographs, I worked to make the colors vivid, and kept the fern image subtle so you only see a tracing of it.
Fallen tree fern collage
I liked the collage, but put it aside and hadn’t decided what to do with it. When I pulled out the art board, I thought it might work well. Before printing it though, I had an idea. There are a number of designs I have produced from elements of my photographs with a great kaleidoscoping program called Kaleider. I mostly use them for my Garden Design Fabrics that I sew into fabric vases, purses, light switch plates, etc. I generally don’t use them in my mixed media artwork or digital collages, but I wanted to see if blending one of them with this collage might work. I found one of the designs that had strong simple lines. Coincidentally, the one I chose to try first was a design that I made from a photograph I took on the same walk we took on Albany Hill, of another fallen log.
This is the kaleidoscoped version of elements of that photograph:
Log Albany Hill kaleidoscope
I very much liked the effect when I blended them!
Fallen tree fern collage with Albany Hill log
Okay, enough explanation about how the blended collage came into being (people often ask me how I make my designs and it’s hard to explain without showing the originals, so I wanted to go into some detail here where I could show them). On to my process for the transfer to the board. I’ve written much about using transfer artist paper (TAP), a polymer paper that I’ve had very good results with transferring onto several different surfaces. This would be the first time I’ve tried to transfer onto a gessoed wood board. I printed the collage onto the TAP using the recommended settings: plain paper and medium quality. I printed it on the Epson Workforce 500, which I use for the workshops I teach. The durabrite ultra inks are pigment and have worked well with the TAP. I forgot the first lesson of printing a transfer: REVERSE the image. Oops, but the collage is abstract so it didn’t really matter. I placed the TAP on the wood board and began to iron it, using the iron’s highest setting. I could hear the transfer hissing a little, which I’ve come to learn means that it’s working. I peeled up a bit of the TAP and checked, and was delighted to see that the transfer was indeed transferring. After a few more passes of the iron, the entire transfer had completed. As with my other TAP pieces, there’s a very pleasing texture caused by the polymer. To protect the print, I applied two layers of varnish and then went searching for a frame. I unearthed an old wooden frame of exactly the right size that I had found at an estate sale. I think it complemented the collaged board beautifully! Here it is, see what you think:
Albany Hill digital collage