Vid #77: How To Photo Transfer Instructions Using Sculpey Clay and Your Photocopied or Laser Printed Images:
One of the coolest polymer clay techniques you can learn, is how to do an image transfer onto clay. There are many techniques for doing this, but the toner transfer method is by far the simplest one. It’s cheap and easy because you use images produced by a regular photocopy machine or laser printer on regular paper.
If you are have access to a color laser printer or a commercial color printer that uses toner ink, then you can even do this technique in color. Please note that the toner image transfer method doe NOT work using an ink-jet, bubble-jet, desk-jet or any liquid ink printer.
Here’s the Step by Step Instructions:
1) Prepare the clay by conditioning some white or light colored polymer clay and roll into a flat sheet using your pasta machine at the thickest setting. Place sheet on a smooth ceramic tile that can be baked on.
2) Cut out your toner based photocopy or laser printed image to a manageable size. Since only the ink from the paper will be transferred onto the clay, you don’t need to worry about cutting too neatly around the image.
3) Place your paper image face down onto your prepared polymer clay where you want the image to be transferred. You can cut around the image later so the positioning does not need to be perfect at this time.
4) Using a small piece of paper as a burnishing tool, gently rub the back of your image to be transferred, until you know that it is in full contact with the polymer clay. You could just use your fingers here, but the paper slides nicely on the surface and keeps the surrounding clay clean.
5) Now you need to get the paper and your clay wet. You can do this under cold running water. Make sure to NOT use warm or hot water as the image will smear.
6) Now very lightly with your fingers, rub off the wet paper in a circular motion starting from the center and then working outwards. The paper will start to ball up under your fingers and can be easily rinsed away. You will continue with this gentle removal of the paper until all the paper is completely gone. Try not to leave any traces of paper, because it becomes hard to remove after it is baked.
7) Now that the image is clean and paper free, it can be trimmed. It is important to leave the clay stuck to the tile and not to try and move it. Moving the clay will stretch and distort the image … something you probably do not want.
8) Bake your image transfer pendant directly on the ceramic tile. Make sure to bake your piece as soon as possible after transferring the image onto the clay. Do not touch the image surface of the unbaked clay, especially if it has been sitting for awhile as it will smear easily.
9) After baking, sand the edges and the back of the pendant really well using several successive grits of wet-dry sandpaper. But be careful not to sand the image transfer surface directly, since this would quickly erase the thin layer of ink on the surface of the clay. Buffing the photo transfer surface by hand with a cloth is much safer than sanding it
For more info, here’s some additional resources about doing image transfers onto polymer clay using the toner transfer method:
>> Polymer Clay Tutorials <<
The full version of the “Image Transfer“ preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-006 Back Issue Package.
In the “Image Transfer” video I walk you step by step on how to use the toner transfer method to apply images from a regular photo copier or laser printer to polymer clay.