Not always the best option

I took some time this week, for some “playful” experimenting. I read an article by Ana Buzzalino in the Quilting Arts Magazine (Spring 2023) and was curious about her process of “Paper Lamination” (page 82). Her technique is a method of transferring a printed image onto sheer textiles. I’ve read similar articles in the past and even had some of the acrylic medium products she referenced. However, I couldn’t remember if I ever really gave it much consideration before. Her article inspired me for some creative play.

Acrylic medium is a glue-like substance which is frequently used by artists to adhere things to a surface or use as a top coating (e.g., paper collage). Someone discovered that you could put the medium on the ink side of printed paper (lazer or ink-jet) and use it to transfer the ink onto another surface (wood, fabric, etc.). Years ago, this was a technique artists used before printer transfer papers became popular (I remember those days!!)

Initially, I followed Ana’s directions explicitly. However, I wasn’t very happy with my results (e.g., bluebird image, upper left corner of photo). The color of my bluebird was “off” and there was “something (?)” I didn’t like about how the medium looked when it dried. I had to think about this… I looked online for similar tutorials by other artists and I tried a few more attempts. This was no longer play…this was a true experiment, trial and error, plus making adjustments to techniques after I thought about the results. At times I wondered is it me “failing” or something else? Should I give up and go back to my tried and true transfer papers. I was determined to conquer this…or at least get to a point that I succeeded or exhausted all my options (and admitted defeat).

A week and many attempts later, I got the results I was looking for (e.g., bottom 2 bluebirds in image). What I discovered was, the gel medium I was using was too old and thick and I had to tweak the image in Photoshop to get the colors I expected. I also discovered the “mystery” fabric I tried to use (looked like painter’s canvas), probably had a coating on it that resisted the ink transfer process. Every attempt I had with the fabric resulted in the same awful mess because the ink never fully adhered to the cloth.

With new medium and some known source cotton muslin, I tried again and had a successful outcome. I also tried again using a sheer fabric like Ana recommended; success again!

Experiments always provide some type of lesson. In this case, I learned what did and didn’t work, that not everything is under my control, and I reminded myself that giving up is not always the best option.


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