Sunday, December 18, 2011

Image Transfer

I was teaching in Saskatoon last month and one of the classes was my popular Tasters Choice, where students get to try a number of different surface design techniques, including paint sticks, Angelina, foils and more. My personal favourite is using Gel Transfers to put images onto fabric.

I made this little hanging using gel transfer onto silk noile. I had indigo-dyed some linen for the outer border and also fused on a piece of batik as the inner border. Then I hand quilted the piece with some dyed perle cotton. It was a great take along project, simple but effective. Just remember its close to impossible to hand stitch through the gel transfers!

To make image transfers such as this you will need:
  • a photo copied image -not inkjet
  • soft gel medium - I prefer the matte finish
  • a brayer - any size
  • fabric-white or light coloured 
  • brush-I prefer bristle brushes-get them cheap at the hardware store

 Apply gel to copy, covering image. It may take a little practice to get the right amount, make certain the surface is covered but not gooey. Do the same of the fabric. Cover the same size area as the image.
Place gel covered copy face down onto the fabric. Sandwich in between layers of wax paper to protect your table surface and run the brayer over several times, using a medium amount of pressure.
Brayer over all the area in one direction. Flip over and do this again. Remove the wax paper and let dry for 24 hours. Do not iron.
To remove the paper: soak in a tub of medium hot water.
Starting from the centre, gently rub the paper off in a circular motion using your finger tips. Blot dry with a towel. Don't put the paper fibres down the sink, they will often clog the drain!

After the transfer dries, you may find some excess fibres showing up. Soak again and rub gently to remove them, repeat if needed.

The Koi fish in these pictures is from this book, I highly recommend Dover books, have a look at all the possibilities at

Keep in mind that images will be reversed in this technique, so you will want to make a mirror image of any text and such.
Make several transfers at one time and you are ready to use them when the mood strikes.

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