Inkjet Heat Transfer Techniques : One-day workshop

Learn to make creative and unique artwork, crafts and gifts using heat transfers and your inkjet printer. We will explore several products and techniques to transfer images and text to a wide variety of surfaces. You will complete at least two transfers at the workshop.

Masdevalia orchid box

Masdevallia orchid box

Sunday February 21, 2010, noon to 4.  Canyon Trail Park & Art Center, 6757 Gatto Ave., El Cerrito. $40 plus materials

Swallowtail butterfly tile

Swallowtail butterfly tile

You can use heat transfers on fabric, wood, tile, metal, and many other surfaces.  It’s a versatile way to place your photographs and images onto things that you can’t fit through your printer!  For best results, I usually recommend using the  iron-on transfers that your printer manufacturer offers.  There is an exciting new product though, Transfer Artist Paper (TAP), that works very well for transfers.  You’ll have a chance to try TAP at the workshop. I made the frame for this lutradur piece with TAP transferred onto a canvas board.

Butterfly window collage lutradur and TAP

Butterfly window collage lutradur and TAP

Another heat transfer product I like is by Lazertran, the company that makes the waterslide decals that I use in many of my art pieces.  The top of this box is a lazertran heat transfer.

Lisianthus box heat transfer

Lisianthus box heat transfer

Here are some of my blog posts about using heat transfers:

Photos on wooden boxes, part 1

Photos on metal, part 1

Photos on tiles, part 1

For more information, or to pre-register, email me at heidirand@gmail.com.   For the complete list of my workshops and other events, go to the Calendar on my website.


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Workshop : Inkjet transfer techniques

Inkjet transfer techniques : one-day workshop

Sunday October 25, 2009, noon to 4.  Canyon Trail Park & Art Center, 6757 Gatto Ave., El Cerrito.

Masdevalia orchid box

Masdevalia orchid box

Learn several techniques to transfer images and text to a variety of surfaces.  We will explore using inkjet transfers to enhance your artwork and to create mixed media, collage and other works.  You will
complete at least two transfer projects at the workshop.

Swallowtail butterfly tile

Swallowtail butterfly tile

For more information, or to pre-register, email me at heidirand@gmail.com.   You can also pre-register at the El Cerrito Rec Dept., 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito, (510) 559-7000.


Photos on wooden boxes

I find boxes so compelling.  The old “I wonder what’s inside that box”, I guess.  I start with plain boxes.  I have gathered several wonderful empty cigar boxes, which are so popular with mixed-media artists, but I’m stymied by working around the design that’s already there.  I prefer an empty surface to start with.  Anyway, my first transfers to wood were with the regular Epson t-shirt iron-on transfers.  If you’ve read my other posts, you must be sensing a theme.  I use those iron-ons for so many things!  If you came here from the inkjet transfer yahoo group, you know that the listmom, Lesley Riley, has invented a new iron-on transfer that’s supposed to be incredible.  I ordered mine and can’t wait to get it.  It’s called transfer artist paper and you can get the instructions and order it from Lesley at  http://transferartist.com/

But back to my past experiences with iron-ons and wooden boxes.  Here’s one of the first ones I made,

Irises box / Heat transfer

Irises box / Heat transfer

This is a photograph of a stand of tall bearded irises in our garden.  I printed the photo onto the Epson iron-on transfer paper.  I placed the transfer face down onto the top of the box and held the iron in one place, picked it up and placed it down nearby, until I had covered the whole transfer.  It doesn’t take nearly as long to transfer to wood as it does to metal or tile, but as with those, you just have to peel up an edge and check to see whether the transfer has adhered.  I place the box on a hard surface rather than an ironing board, because you do want to press down hard on the iron.  I also always place a piece of parchment paper between the transfer and the iron, because a bit of the ink squishes out the sides and will get on the iron.  Sometimes the transfer leaves a little nubbly finish on the box – which I don’t mind, it adds texture to the piece.  I varnish over the transfer to protect it and add a bit of gloss. I finished this box by painting around the photo with some white paint.  I made the letters in front by printing the letters on inkjet paper, and gluing them to the clear flat-bottomed pebbles.  I think I attached the pebbles to the wood with very strong double-sided tape, but glue would work as well.

Here’s another:

Masdevallia orchid box / Heat transfer

Masdevallia orchid box / Heat transfer

I love this box.  The photograph is of a deep red masdevallia orchid.  I painstakingly excised the background so all you see is the great shape of the flower.  I did the transfer the same way as above.  The color and texture of the wood shows through.  I glued a ribbon around the sides at the top of the box, you can see a bit of it at the left side of the box.

This is one of my favorite boxes:

Zebra box - Heat transfer

Zebra box – Heat transfer

I took my photograph of a zebra at the Oakland Zoo and gave it an artsy effect by taking out some of the detail.  I cut the photo into pieces to fit the top and sides of the box.  I was amazed that it turned out great on the first try!

I’m adding this instead of starting a new post because it fits in.  My TAP paper, Lesley Riley’s brand new product, arrived yesterday!  http://transferartist.com/  It’s a polymer-coated sheet intended to be used with inkjet printers, and is ironed onto your surface.  I picked out a wooden box to print on first — told you I love those boxes!  I chose an unpainted rectangular box and then sized one of my new designs to fit on the entire top of the box.  I wanted to use it because the colors are very intensely saturated and it has good detail.  It’s a collage of a butterfly and a lily flower.

Golden butterfly and lily collage

I read the instructions included with the TAP package, which were pretty basic.  I had read on Lesley’s yahoo group that there were more instructions online, so I quickly logged on.  One detail that isn’t on the instructions with the package is which side of the page to print on.  It seems obvious once you realize that the side that has slight grooves in it is the coated side, but I’ve printed the incorrect sides of so many products that I wanted to be sure.  She does include that information online – actually she says to print on the white side — she made the back side slightly greenish to distinguish, which is helpful.

Lesley’s instructions say to print on the plain paper and medium quality setting.  I did use the plain paper setting, but deviated slightly and chose the best quality setting (“fine” on my Epson 2400).  I watched it emerge from the printer and was very happy — the colors were fully saturated and the detail was very good.   One of my ink cartridges is low and at first I thought that had caused some banding, but it turned out that it was just the grooves of the polymer coating.

I set the iron for the highest setting.  I cut the image out, put it face down onto the top of the box and covered it with parchment paper to protect the iron.  When the iron was ready, I placed it down and pressed.  I could hear what I guess was the polymer bonding or transferring to the wood very quickly.  I moved the iron to another spot and did the same, until I had covered the whole box.  I have an iron with holes in it, so I had to do some overlapping to make sure the entire transfer bonded.  The entire transfer (about 8″ by 5″) was done quite quickly, faster than I’m used to with the Epson iron-ons.   It turned out so beautifully!  The colors are really vivid, the detail is good.  I’ll try to get a picture up soon to show it off.

Photos on metal, part 1

I love using metal in mixed media works: beads, wire, wire mesh, metal embossed with designs or letters, brads, etc. …..   I used a couple of different techniques on this box:

Hidden treasure box

Hidden treasure box

The box has strips of copper sheeting on the top and bottom front which I embossed using a stencil.  The word “hidden” along the side is metal mesh which I embossed using metal letters.  I also put metal letters spelling “treasures” along the right side.  The image is a heat transfer of a double-exposure photo I took of myself awhile ago (pre-digital, when double exposures were harder but really fun).

Ah, but photos on metal — so many possibilities, but also difficult.

I started out trying some inkjet lazertran on metal.  I got a few rolls of copper and aluminum sheeting made by Artemboss.  You can find it at Michael’s, but I got it at a better price through misterat.com  This metal is soft enough to cut easily and I really like working with it.  I didn’t have much success with the lazertran, unfortunately.  With inkjet lazertran, if you want the surface of your substrate to show through where your image would be white, you have to clear the white with either turpentine or a substitute.  My aim in putting a photo onto metal would be for the surface to show through, so I did need to use the turpentine.   My results weren’t good – my edges curled, I used too much turpentine and some of the image dissolved, the end image was kind of chalky. 

I next tried using a heat transfer, the same t-shirt transfer material I wrote about earlier for putting photos onto tile.  I use Epson transfers with my Epson 2400 pigment printer.  The results were much better than the lazertran.  Here’s an example:

White phalaenopsis orchid

White phalaenopsis orchid

This is an Artemboss copper sheet with a heat transfer of my photo of an orchid.  I worked with the image so it’s softer than a straight photograph.  The heat transfer process doesn’t work well with sharp detail, so I chose a soft image, and I like the effect here.  The colors of the heat transfer aren’t as saturated as a straight photo, but here my aim was the contrast between light and dark, and that worked fine for me.  I also did some random embossing on the metal sheet and then attached it to a piece of wood with nails.

To print my transfer, I reversed the image (there wasn’t any type or lettering, but I decided to keep the orientation as I had shot the image).  I used the matte black ink and the enhanced matte paper and “best” settings.  I set the metal sheeting on a hard even surface (not an ironing board) and set the iron on its highest setting (don’t have water in the iron).  You really need some heat-resistant gloves to handle the metal, because it gets very hot.  Place the heat transfer face down on the metal, exactly where you want it — any movement will blur the image.  I put a sheet of baking parchment between the iron and the transfer, and held the iron down in one spot for a few moments.  Don’t move the iron – pick it up and place it on another spot next to the first spot.  If your iron has holes in it, make sure you’re overlapping so you don’t leave any spots untransferred.

It takes awhile to transfer to metal. You just have to peel up a little bit of the edge of the transfer to see how you’re doing, and you can then place it back down and keep ironing until you have as much transferred as you want.   There’s usually a small ghost image remaining on the transfer paper, as with the tiles.