Sunday, November 17, 2013

Want to hear a secret?

Since the new laptop has arrived I've been trying to organize my photo collection. After all this time I found the search spot on Piscasa so I could put it one word and find all the different folders I had made with the same pictures. Some times I amaze myself. With this new found skill and knowledge I have been able to gather ALL of my wonderful barn pictures into one place. Do not smirk. 
My problem often arrives with a photo like this one. Does it stay in Barns or move to Texture? I just love this photo. I can't tell if the yellow is a result of the early morning sun or if somebody thought they would do a test run on painting the barn yellow and then stopped. I think it was the light since I can barely make out what appears to be more yellow on the lower part of the barn.
Anyway, I discovered lots of old favorites that I remember where and when I took the picture. I plan to develop a series in the new year using my barn photos in my artwork. 


Pssst, come here, come closer.......I'm going to pass on a technique for photo transfer that WORKS. Well, let's just say that so far it's worked for me. I haven't had a lot of success in the past with gel medium and photo transfer.  I would rub off the paper pulp and get tiny holes in the "photo skin". I experimented last week and I think I came up with what works for me and might very well work for you. 

I used copy paper a grade up from the usual stuff in copy machines.  At home I use recycled paper and it's not as smooth on the face of the paper as the next grade up. I printed my photos at the print store in black and white.  I had already done all my editing of the photo at home before I had printed off my B&W copy to take to the print shop.
Back up in the studio with my print shop copy I let it sit for a couple of days. And, no I can't explain my thinking on this except to say I wanted to make sure that the "ink was dry".
Then using Gel Medium Matte, the kind that comes in the JAR.  It's thick and when you use matte you will get a haze over your photo. And, that depends on how you are going to use your photo. I could have just as easily used Gloss and then if I didn't like the shine coated the finished photo with matte.
I spread the gel medium THINLY and I can't stress this enough, THINLY across the photo face. The right side up of the photo. I used an old credit card to do this. For the ridges that the credit card made in the spreading I went back with a little foam brush and spread those out. Then I let the picture DRY.
Go do other things. Give it lots of time to dry. Don't rush this whole process. Frankly I think it's easier to set up a space and do a bunch of photographs at one time.  I work on my plastic covered, used and flattened USPO box. Then I put a piece of wax paper on top and then my photograph.  That way I can easily lift the wax paper and photo and move them to their drying space. Also, down the line when you get to removing the paper from the back of the photograph you will find it's easy to turn the wax paper to do the removal.
The next day I turned the photograph and worked from the second side. I did the exact same thing a thin layer and then let it dry.  I did this process four times from each side of the photograph.
Each time I let it dry thoroughly.
I may be off on my reasoning but one of the problems I found in my previous approach of just spreading the gel medium on with a foam brush or any kind of brush was that I was getting uneven layers of gel and if there happened to be a tiny air bubble under a thick part of the gel that's what would end up tearing during the rubbing process.
With these thin layers coming from four different directions I felt like I got a relatively even layer covering the face of the photograph.
When the last process was DRY I took a large plastic container (I was working with 8x10 size photos) and just put the now coated photograph face down in the water.  I didn't worry about water temperature. I made sure that the paper on the back of the photograph looked saturated and then I lifted it out and placed it face down on the wax paper. 
Now, you need to remove the paper pulp. I start in the middle of the photograph and rub with my index finger pad until I get an opening in the wet paper. Then I start to rub it away from the middle. Usually, it will just start to roll up and off the back. 

This gets old very quickly.  And, your finger starts to feel uncomfortable depending on how big your photo is. I got the first layer of paper off and then switched to AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, a small piece of yellow sponge.  The kind I use to paint with sometimes.  I buy the large sponge in the paint department and have John cut it up, with his power saw into little pieces.  I think they use it to smooth plaster? Anyway, it's not expensive, cleans up well if you get it in water right away when you are using acrylic paints.
I did NOT experiment with scrubbers and other sponges. That's up to you to try. This sponge worked and I am a firm beliver in not fixing something if it ain't broke. 
My end result was to produce a photo skin without holes.
When you think you are done and all the paper pulp is off...................wait until it dries or blast it with a hair dryer..................SURPRISE!  See the white haze? PAPER PULP, grrrrrrrrrr.
I'm telling you this process is tedious. Put on some good music, listen to a good book or hum to yourself as you do this. 
When I got down to what I was sure was my final layer I let it dry an then looked at the front of the photograph.  I decided what part of this entire picture I was actually going to be using and then I concentrated on just that part.  I used a little spray bottle filled with water and my sponge and I gently just kept scrubbing away. 
If you go at this whole process too hard even with these four layers of medium on the photo you can tear it. Be gentle. Coax that wet paper off. When I say scrub I mean I was usually going in one direction with the sponge, not rubbing back and forth.
When you are done the photo skin edges can be torn or cut.  You can sew through this skin, easily.  If you apply it to a painted canvas piece remember to apply the gel medium to the canvas AND to the back of the photo skin. Place it where you want it and carefully smooth it out.  I then use a credit card or room key to gently work out from the center to the edges, wiping away gel that squeezes out from the edges. I make sure that the edges have all be adhered to the canvas with gel med. I usually use Gloss knowing that if I want to take away the shine I can easily do that with a coating of matte later.

I hope this helps anybody that has had trouble, in the past with making a decent photo transfer skin.
Experiment with my technique, maybe I do overkill, maybe less will work for you. I just know I've been frustrated, in the past and this actually worked every time for me. Good luck and have fun!


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