Transfer Artist Paper on cotton

I previously wrote in my post about Photos on Wooden Boxes about using Lesley Riley’s new Transfer Artist Paper (TAP), available from her at   I just tried TAP on fabric.  I have resisted making t-shirts to sell because I was never sure whether the iron-on transfers would last, how they would wash, etc.  I have ordered some t-shirts made with my designs through my zazzle shop,* and the shirts are great.  They have a large variety of shirt styles and sizes.  I even sold a couple of children’t t-shirts the other day at the Pinole Artisan Gallery, so hooray for that!  Anyway, I bought some blank onesies (infant garments that snap at the bottom, very cute even to those of us who are childless) and decided to either sew some of my designs onto them, or to try using iron-ons.  Since I wanted to test out the TAP transfers anyway, I decided to use them for some of the onesies. 

Printing: I reversed the images because they’re transfers and you have to place them face down on the surface, of course.  I printed them with my Epson 2400, using Ultrachrome inks.  Per Lesley’s instructions, I printed on the plain paper setting and the medium quality.  The prints looked great – just as good as they would on normal inkjet paper, with full color saturation and detail.

Lesley’s website says to either wash the fabric right away (after transferring), in which case the colors will likely fade, or to wait a couple of days, and possibly the colors will fade less.  At least that’s how I read her instructions.  She also mentions that when she waited a couple of days, there was a line through the image where the cloth folded during washing. 

I pre-washed and machine dried the onesies.  I printed 6 images on 2 sheets of the TAP paper.  Following Lesley’s instructions, I cut out the image close to the edge to avoid having excess polymer transfer to the fabric.  I set my iron to the cotton setting.  As instructed, I used my ironing board which has a thin pad.  I put a piece of parchment paper on top the TAP transfer and placed my iron on top of it.  I held it there for about 10 seconds without moving it.  Then I peeled up an edge of the paper, saw that the entire transfer had worked, and peeled the backing entirely off.

On a couple of the transfers the edges were a little rough.  I think that’s because I didn’t hold the iron in that spot long enough, and the transfer was a bit incomplete.  My fault, but nothing that will affect the finished shirt too badly.  I was surprised that the holes in the iron didn’t cause a problem. Lesley mentions that the holes MAY leave untransferred spots, and I’d assume they would — but I did pick up the iron and place it in different spots, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have a problem. 

The transfers aren’t too stiff, just a tiny bit, but Lesley says that the stiffness will decrease as the item is washed.   I decided to wait until maybe tomorrow to wash them.  I really like the saturated colors and don’t want them to fade too much.  Here’s a photo of one of them taken right after I did the transfer:

Lars, photographic transfer to cotton using TAP paper

Lars, photographic transfer to cotton using TAP paper

I was very impressed that the shades of grey throughout the photo were transferred, as were the vivid colors of Lars’ eyes and ears, and his collar.  I’ll let you know what happens after I wash and dry the onesies tomorrow.

Okay. I machine-washed and dried the onesies.  Consistent with Lesley’s results, the transfer faded a bit, and the hand is a bit less stiff.  The colors are acceptable, and I would feel confident selling items I made with the TAP paper.  I’ll continue to test them.  I’ll make a t-shirt for myself and see how it fares after normal wear and washing.  Here’s the onesie with Lars on it, after washing and drying:

Transfer with TAP, after washing

Transfer with TAP, after washing

Photos on tiles, part 1

I’m going to add photos to this post, but for now I’ll just write, so please check back to see samples of what I’m writing about. 

I’m intrigued by placing my images onto unusual surfaces.  Tiles are attractive to me because there are so many uses — they can be hung individually or as a set, displayed on a shelf, used in a backsplash, etc.  I guess professional tiles are generally made by dye sublimation, but without that expensive technology, I explored ways to get my inkjet prints onto the tiles. 

First about the tiles — I started out with plain white enamel tiles.  I next tried the larger clay tiles, and then tumbled tiles, which were a little harder to find.  Home Depots have some tiles, but I’ve found that different stores carry different products, so you’ll have to check.  I once found a tile store pretty far from my house that had the most gorgeous marbled tiles.  Click here to see a photograph of a naked lady lily on a marble tile.  Lesson to me – when I see something I like and am pretty sure I’ll use, get enough!  The tumbled and marbled tiles are slightly smaller but thicker than the normal enamel size, so you may not be able to fit them into some of the products made for the standard sizes, like boxes, ready-made frames, stands, etc. 

Okay, now for the fun part. The best way to get an accurate image (one that looks nearly like it would on a piece of inkjet paper) onto most surfaces you can’t get through a printer is by using lazertran.  It’s a great product, basically a waterslide decal.  They make different kinds, but I use the inkjet.  Much more about lazertran in another post, coming soon.  And by the way, you can get a lot of information from their website

A fun but less accurate method for transferring to tiles is by using heat transfers.  I need to go back through my books to let you know where I learned about this.  Please check back, because I always want to give credit to my sources.  You can use the heat transfers made for t-shirts.  I use the epson transfers, because they work best with my printer.  I know you can get cheaper generic ones, but you might want to experiment to see whether the results are as good as the ones that are made by your printer manufacturer.  You just print the image onto the heat transfer (backward if there’s type or you care about the original orientation of the image), and place it face down onto the tile (put the tile on a hard surface, not a soft ironing board).  Cover the transfer with a piece of parchment paper to protect your iron from any ink that squishes out the sides, and hold the iron (highest heat) on the paper, pressing down hard.  You don’t want to move the iron around because the image will smear.  If you have a normal iron with holes, you should pick the iron up and move it so the holes are in a different place.  You’ll need to hold it there quite awhile.  The tile will get VERY hot so use an oven mitt or heat glove if you need to touch the tile.  After a few minutes, pick the iron up and peel a tiny piece of the edge to see if the transfer has adhered to the tile (be very careful touching the hot tile).  You can put it back down and keep pressing until as much of the transfer adheres as you want.  There will be spots that won’t transfer, and I’ve found that a slight ghost image always remains on the transfer paper.  You’ll have to experiment with the kinds of images that work best with this method.  For myself, I like to use photos that I’ve softened for a dreamy effect.  Details don’t transfer very well.

Here are some examples of the heat transfers onto the tumbled marble tiles.  You can see that there are gaps in the image, which as I said works well with some images. 

Four examples of tumbled marble tiles with inkjet images

Four examples of tumbled marble tiles with inkjet images