Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TRANSFER ART? A mis-nomer!! When we were first doing this about 35 years ago, we simply called it "making transparencies," and it was done by applying coats of acrylic polymer medium to a picture, and then adhering the resulting "decal" to whatever surface we wanted to decorate.
As I have mentioned so many times before, my love of beautifully made artisan crafted decorative accessories has led to what has been my passion/obsession and livelihood for many years. I was standing at the kitchen sink this morning and got the giggles at what I was doing - soaking eggshells and peeling out the membranes and stashing them in an old coffee can. Also washing out used tea bags to add to my "stash." (for collages). This is SSD at its worst - only mine isn't seasonal, but chronic. (seasonal stash disorder according to Jane Thornley of the beautiful knitting.) Mine also includes beads threads, yarn, fabrics, and anything else "crafty." My children are going to know for sure when they clean out my house that poor old Ma was a bit deranged - but they have probably suspected this for years. I also hoard graham cracker and cereal boxes for the cardboard. I will explain this one at a later date. Anyway - I was thinking back to the mid '60's when I first started doing these things "for serious" and selling my work. I used the money to hire a housekeeper. There were no chain craft stores and no "canned crafts." (kits) The activity was much more satisfying and materials used were not mysterious and expensive. There was a French papier mache artist whose production center was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - beautiful, exquisite work, mostly on wooden boxes, waste baskets, mirror frames - that sort of thing. Those items were sold in this country and probably in many others in fine boutiques for very high prices. I decided while living in Mexico City to drive over to San Miguel to investigate and learn the process if I could - and to my amazement, it was a lot of cotton cording, torn up newspaper, split peas and lentils, acrylic paint, and Elmer's glue. "Antiquing solution glaze" was instant coffee. Best of all, the "porcelainizing" was done with layers of glue and a coat of clear, high glss acrylic glaze. WOW!!! I studied a lot of crafts in Mexico, and came back with enough material to start my newspaper column, which soon became syndicated. The materials used for some of the fniest items were so simple - just things found around the house, and the knowledge of how to use them to make something beautiful. The illustrated glass vase doesn't show up well in this photo, but I found it at my son's house - a project for Christmas several years ago. I think the process is now being called "transfer art" and requires a bottle of something called "transfer medium." For the almost 40 years that I have been doing this, it has been a simple matter of making a transparency by coating a picture from a Christmas card or note card with Liquitex acrylic polymer medium/varnish, soaking in water, and rubbing the paper off the back. In this case, I applied the transparent "decal" over gold leaf (on a glass vase) which glows through the picture - GORGEOUS!! I also do candles this way, and the light glows through the picture, illuminating it. Instructions are given on my web page under "JOURNAL" - Go there and take a look!! and enjoy this art yourself and see what you can create.