I’m a lot slower getting this posted than I had intended…sorry about that. But here I am now, with the BIG SECRET TRANSFER METHOD (no, not really) that I promised when I posted about my French Chocolate Bar Stools.
I have had lots of fun transferring vintage French ads (courtesy of the Graphics Fairy) to various pieces of furniture, such as the French Chocolate table, Café table, the Postcard table, the Black Coffee table and French Twist table. I used an overhead projector for all of those, and I really love the look I was able to get.
…I had to choose my graphics very carefully, as I am limited in the amount of detail I can recreate with my paint brush. Plus…I simply don’t have the patience to do anything really teeny tiny, so that’s why I focused on tables!
So I wanted a way to simply transfer images without necessarily having to break out the paint brush. I tried Mod Podge transfers (there’s a good explanation here), but I had mediocre results. I shelled out the money for Citra Solv, and had good results—some of the time (this method is explained here). So I got discouraged.
But…the Citra Solv transfer PLUS the overhead transparency method gave me a new(ish) idea.
When I wanted to use my overhead projector, I had to print my graphic out on paper and take it to a copy store to have the transparency made. Ink jet printers (which is what most homes have) deposit ink on the surface of a sheet, so it will smear off if you touch it. Laser printers/copiers do something like injecting the image into the sheet, so they are permanent. (Yeah, I’m just shooting from the hip for this explanation. Just go with me here.)
Citra Solv transfers work because the Citra Solv re-dissolves the ink on your page, allowing it to re-deposit onto your project. (The issues I had with Citra Solv is that it DID NOT always re-dissolve the ink—maybe some toner cartridges are getting better??)
so one day I had an “aha” moment—if I printed on a transparency sheet using my ink jet printer, the ink was already “dissolved.” So…could I just transfer an image without any special solvents?
Well, let’s see, shall we??
Here’s a Citra Solv transfer onto a painted surface.:
…and an unpainted surface:
Here’s an ink jet transfer onto a painted surface:
…and an unpainted surface:
Pretty hard to tell the difference, huh?
I was majorly excited after this little experiment.
Like my cute little test board??
But then….I got stuck.
See, the real difference is that if you’re transferring from a laser copy, THAT ink is NON-water soluble (thus, you have to use the Citra Solv). If you’re transferring from an ink jet copy, that ink IS water soluble and it will continue to be so. If you wanted to wash your project at some point—the image would come off. If you try to use something like, say, Minwax Polycrylic (which is water-based) to protect your image—you’re going to end up with a big smeary mess which will cause you conclude that your grand idea is a huge failure and you might just hide your project board in the laundry room for the next four months.
But then one day (four months later) a new idea might finally occur to you—which you, being MUCH SMARTER than I am—probably already figured out!!
If you do an ink jet transfer, you have to use an oil-based protective coat.
That’s all there is to it. No water = no smeary ink!
For the stools, I used Minwax Hand-rubbed polyurethane, and I didn’t have any smearing problems. Such a simple solution, but seriously—it drove me nuts!!
Now, recently there have been some other projects in blog-land that have transferred ink-jet images using freezer paper. It’s the same principle, so you can use whatever substance you happen to have one hand (I promise I came up with this idea independently of those, and I have the dates on my pictures to prove it! )
The two slight advantages that I see in using transparency sheets are these:
- After you’re done with your transfer, you can wash the ink residue off of the transparency, making it completely reusable.
- Since the sheets are—you know, transparent—you can more accurately place your image on your project.
So here’s a quick run-down of the steps I use for a “transparency transfer,” using a cool old bread board for my project.
1. Slightly dampen your project to facilitate the ink transfer. I generally wiped it with a damp cloth, and then waited a minute or two for it to be nearly dry.
2. Print a reverse image of your graphic (I copied my images into Microsoft Word. Click on the image, and a new tab called “Picture Tools” will appear at the top of the page. Click on the tab and then on the “Rotate” option, and “Flip Horizontal”) directly onto an overhead transparency (you can buy individual sheets from a copy center; no need for a whole box). Tape it in place.
3. Using the back of a spoon (I have also used a bench knife), rub the image ALL OVER and HARD to transfer as much ink as possible.
4. Voila! You have achieved image-transfer-nirvana. If you want to protect your image, let it dry fully and then give it a coat (or two) of a non-water-based polyurethane.
That was a very long-winded explanation, so congratulations if you haven’t completely lost interest yet (image transfer----whaaa?? who cares??)
What do you think? Is this something you might try? Or is it so simple as to be…stupid, and everyone already knew about it but ME??
Note: The super-slick surface of the bar stools did not “take” the transfer quite as well as the softer wood of the cutting board, so I used a black Sharpie to darken up the image in places.
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