Friday, June 18, 2010

Transfer Notes from 4th Annual Encaustic Conference

Here are some notes and observations on doing transfers based on my experience and seeing what other artists do. I use a lot of images and text that I transfer and want to do it as perfectly and quickly as I can-you may have found other ways but so far this is what I feel works best. Doing a transfer can seem like magic but by paying attention to a couple of details it is a straight forward process.

What is the difference between lazer and ink jet copies? Laser (toner) printers heat a powdery toner that is applied to the paper. An ink jet sprays ink dots and uses either heat (Canon, HP) or electricity (Epson) to set the ink.

What to transfer-
Photocopy, laser copy, toner copy in B & W or color, newspaper copy. Ink jets don’t work well but are not impossible.* but why bother? They are often not waterproof.Remember to “mirror” text so it will be right reading.
Graphite, color pencils, charcoal, pastel (not oil), carbon or Saral paper,metallic transfer tapes.
Color from magazine pages.
Lazertran ink jet paper-more of a combination of techniques as the image is actually collaged in.

How to: the basic technique
Note:there is no need to use any kind of solvent
Fused, smooth surface-the smoother the surface the more perfect the transfer will be. I like some or all medium on the surface that the transfer will be on-medium is more tacky. Medium will also prevent pigmented encaustic paint from seeping into the image when you fuse. This is especially true when using charcoal.
Warm the surface-between 80-110 degrees. The transfer is harder to do if the surface is too cool and you will just push into the wax if the surface is too warm. Feel it and/or use a digital thermometer.
Place the transfer face down. Rub with a metal tool-a burnisher works best. You need the hardness of the metal tool-it works much better that wood, bone, etc. This usually takes around a minute.
Spray with water and rub over the paper. It may need several applications of water. Let the water do the work! Then rub off the paper pulp-fingers, old towels, sanding blocks, kitchen scrubbies-all these work.
Even though it looks clean add a little more water and rub with you fingers to get that very fine layer of paper off. It is easiest to edit the image at this time , removing any parts of the transfer you don't want to keep.If it is a keeper, lightly fuse. Of course if you fuse too much you will move the image, sometimes you might do that on purpose for the effect.
Cut the image out completely, put face down and cover with wax paper, then burnish.
Leave some of the paper pulp on or around the image which can add softness, some dimension.

To transfer a graphite, pencil or pastel drawing -no water.
Most artists don’t use heat for this but I prefer the surface to be just slightly warm.
The transfer will work best if the drawing is done on a non- absorbent paper.
Place face down on surface, burnish, lift up edge to check transfer, slowly pull off the paper.
Often you can do another softer transfer from the same image-a shadow.
lightly fuse.
*Ink jet printed on parchment paper will transfer easily.

Color magazine images-with water
Not all magazine pages will transfer-you need those that are printed on a clay based paper. Use same basic technique although when doing a large page I like to use a flat metal tool to get more coverage. If you hear or see air bubbles your paper is not attached to the surface and will not transfer.

Experiment, push the boundaries, take risks-that’s what art is all about.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Inspirations

i'm just back from the 4th Annual Encaustic Conference held at Montserrat College in Beverly, MA, just north of Boston. This was my third conference as a presenter and participant and each year this conference gets better and better-congratulations to Joanne and the college staff. over 240 artists from the US, Canada and S. America, speakers and even vendors created an informative, exciting and inspiring atmosphere. those of you who were on the fence this year about going-sign up next year. asap i will be posting the notes from my demo on transfers and will also add my notes from my previous demo-warp, weft and wax.

a sad note-German artist extraordinaire Sigmar Polke died last thursday at the age of 69 from cancer. if you don't know his work you should-he is considered one of the most influential artists of the last 40 years and worked with all types of media probably even encaustic-an artist alchemist, an inspiration.