Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Acrylic transfers

As I've mentioned before, aside from writing, knitting and crochet, I also paint. One of my favorite techniques to use is acrylic transfer. In short, you make a photocopy of the image you'd like to transfer, cover it with gel medium, let it dry, scrub away the paper and voila! An acrylic skin is made, containing your image.

I learned this technique from two books: Rethinking Acrylic by Patti Brady and Acrylic Revolution by Nancy Reyner. I actually learned much of what I know how to do as a painter from these two fantastic books... I am totally untrained as a painter and have only been doing it for a year. I just made my second acrylic skin for a new painting, and I decided to post about it to help others that might run into the foibles that I did the first time I tried it.

First, you need your photocopy and an acrylic gel. I have tried using good old acrylic medium or gel medium, but with those, I found that my acrylic skins were lumpy and it was hard to get it to dry evenly. I did one where I made multiple layers of gloss medium, but the center layer never dried completely and thus remained cloudy. Oops. The best thing I've found to make the best acrylic transfers is Golden Tar Gel. It has a self-leveling capability that gloss medium and gel medium don't, which makes a nice, smooth acrylic skin.

So, pour some of that on top of your photocopy and let it dry for about 3 days.

Once it's dry, let it soak for 10 or 15 minutes in a dish of water, to soften the paper:

Then, scrub the paper off. I like to get it started with the rougher side of a scrubber sponge, BUT once the paper starts to scrub off, I turn the sponge around and use the softer side, a washcloth and my fingers to remove the rest of the paper gently. The photocopied image is adhered to the acrylic gel, not absorbed. I found that out the hard way the first time I tried this technique and ended up scrubbing away some of my image. Suck.

Once you have all the paper scrubbed off, let it dry for a few hours or overnight and there you are, an acrylic skin all ready to stick onto your painting wherever you want it. I use acrylic gloss medium to glue it on.

Before you stick it onto your painting, you can paint on the back of it for interesting effects. Since it's on the back, you can be pretty sloppy. Here's one I did earlier this year:

This is the first time I've shared my painting on my blog because somehow it's so much more deeply personal than writing, knitting and crochet. I don't know why. It's also the art I've been practicing for the least amount of time, so that makes it intimidating as well. Well, I've gone and opened that door, so expect more posts about painting!


  1. Wow! You are so creative! I am so impressed by all your projects!