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Topic: My problems with Transluscent Liquid Sculpey transfers  (Read 1549 times)
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mgodby86
« on: April 25, 2007 02:05:26 PM »

Hi everyone

I am new here and have just recently started working with polymer clay. The first mini-experiment I tried involved TLS and a Dover coloring book. I traced a square on a coloring page, cut it out, colored it with colored pencils, and painted it with TLS and baked it.

I ran into problems while removing the paper backing. It was difficult to rub the paper off, and I tore the transfer in some places. At first I thought I wouldn't mind, but for a larger project this is very time-consuming.

So, I tried copying a color page and then trying the same process. The paper was a little easier to remove, but not by much.

I am trying to take these square transfers and put them onto same-sized baked polymer "tiles". When I bake the transfer, it never lays smooth on the clay, so this is another problem. When it is finished it is all bumpy and I end up getting incredibly frustrated.

Just last night I took a piece of computer paper, colored a small design using only colored pencils, and tried TLS with that. The paper backing peeled right off, no problem. If only I could achieve this result with the coloring page!!

Any ideas?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008 12:34:55 PM by something_wierd » THIS ROCKS   Logged
Diane B.
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2007 12:38:22 PM »

Hi,

First, just be aware that there are a lot of ways to "transfer" images onto polymer clay, using lots of different materials, equipment, and methods.  And some of those materials/equipment/methods won't work interchangeably. 
(There are also other variables that can be at work, including temperature, humidity, etc.)

Rather than explain all the possibilities you mentioned (and since I couldn't tell what some of them were... for example, you "traced" onto paper with what?), it would be best if you just check out some of the parts of this Transfers page at my polymer clay encyclopedia first:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/transfers.htm

If you want to use colored pencils in particular, click on the Colored Pencils & Graphite Pencils category, though there may be other places on the page where they're referenced or the same techniques would work.

You might also want to look at the Transfer Papers category for use with colored pencils.

(and there's specific info on getting the paper off too in under the Transfer Liquids category
> Liquid Clays > Basic Instructions > Getting the Paper Off...)

(Also I wouldn't begin with a large project ...practice on some smaller ones until you figure out which combination of materials/equipment/methods work for what you want to do.)

Quote

So, I tried copying a color page and then trying the same process. The paper was a little easier to remove, but not by much.

Quote
I am trying to take these square transfers and put them onto same-sized baked polymer "tiles". When I bake the transfer, it never lays smooth on the clay, so this is another problem. When it is finished it is all bumpy and I end up getting incredibly frustrated.

I'm also unclear as to whether you were doing decal transfers (to be placed onto clay with more liquid clay as an adhesive, or making direct transfers to clay using liquid clay, and that could matter too ("direct" transfers and intermediary "decal" transfers are two basic methods for getting an image onto clay using liquid clay).  Generally the paper is not baked on the clay like a decoupage or baked for very long with it either.



HTH,

Diane B.
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POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
mgodby86
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2007 07:36:55 PM »

Hi

Thanks for your response but I would like to say I didn't appreciate the way you came across. I thought that since I am a complete newbie, have no experience with the terminology, etc., and this is my first project, that you'd be a little less condescending.

Quote
Rather than explain all the possibilities you mentioned (and since I couldn't tell what some of them were... for example, you "traced" onto paper with what?)

First of all, when I say that I traced a square on a coloring page, I think that makes perfect sense. I traced the outline of a square...

Your encyclopedia was a bit helpful, I appreciate the link. I don't mean to sound rude but I was offended by the tone of your response.

Meghan
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Diane B.
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2007 08:57:53 AM »

Gee Shocked, I'm really sorry I came across that way to you.  I didn't intend that at all.  (Also, sad defense, but my cat has suddenly become very ill and has thrown up almost continuously for the past day and a half, so a lot of my mind has been focused on her.)

Actually though, the whole question of doing transfers on polymer clay is so complicated that a good answer would have to be pages long to really cover the topic, especially if some of the possibilites weren't narrowed down first (like the things someone did, the materials/equipment used, or the look and use they might want to get from the particular transfer).

"How to do transfers" on polymer clay is a topic that comes up a lot in polymer groups too... probably the most asked question in many of them.  Newbies asking about transfers generally have no way of knowing that the method they may have seen on TV or read about somewhere is just one of the many-many that clayers use, or that it may be an old method or a method done by someone who isn't a clayer (e.g., stamper or painter) which clayers don't use or have found easier/better ways to do, or they may have just not known one little tip about how to do one part of any of the method they were trying.  There are just so many possibilities that giving a short answer is hard to do (that's actually why I created my polymer clay encyclopedia in the first place --so people could get full answers to all aspects of any topic, in one place).

As for terminology, I usually do try to define the words I use.  In this case, were you wondering about the "decal" vs. the "direct transfer", or was it something else?  Just let me know which terms they were and I can try again (a lot of the words are defined on the Transfers page too).

Btw, here's one thing from my page that might explain the extra trouble you had maybe with getting the paper off (though it's usually not easy if not using one of the "special" papers):

"...I've found that any areas left uncolored (on my own colored pencil transfers) stick terribly to the paper . . . "
There are other tips under the category on colored pencils too.

Quote
Rather than explain all the possibilities you mentioned (and since I couldn't tell what some of them were... for example, you "traced" onto paper with what?)

Quote
First of all, when I say that I traced a square on a coloring page, I think that makes perfect sense. I traced the outline of a square...

Oh, I though you meant that you'd traced one of the square graphics that Dover has in their books (of an image or a fancy letter, etc.)  I didn't realize you meant that you traced only a square outline? <confused then about why the Dover book was important... had you not also traced the lines of the image?>.
What I had originally meant by asking "with what" was which implement you'd used to trace the image with? (presumably you'd also wanted to transfer those marks as well as the colored pencil, though maybe not if you just used the square as a guide for cutting out a plain paper square) -- a graphite pencil, a ballpoint pen, a marker, ink?
 
(Other things used for doing transfers that would also make a big difference in the results, as well as in the problems one might encounter along the way, are things like the type of paper used --transfer paper, photo-quality paper, glossy paper, matte paper, vellum, transparency paper, etc.-- and also smoothness/porosity of even regular papers; whether ink or toner was used; whether a printer, copier, or laser were used; etc.)

I was also confused as to which steps you did, the order they were done, and how long they were done for (for example, had you simply painted the liquid clay onto the paper image then baked them together, or did you place the liquid clay covered paper image face down on a sheet of glass first? --liqiud clay "decal" transfers can be made in both ways, but if the glass is not used then several coats and curings are usually necessary to make the decal sturdy enough.


HTH,

Diane B.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
mgodby86
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2007 09:17:04 AM »

Hi Diane

Thanks for your response. I figured that you didn't mean to come across like that. I appreciate your apology and advice. It's easy to take things the wrong way when they are in print.

This is basically what I've been doing:

1. I said it was a Dover coloring book because I thought it might give insight as to what type of paper it was. I realize it probably isn't the best paper to use. I use a square template to trace and then cut out a section of the coloring page, so I am left with a 2.5"  square.

2. I color the square with colored pencils, and then paint on a thin layer of TLS. I bake it at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.

3. I then soak the paper for awhile, and then rub it off. It is time consuming and I must be careful not to tear the transfer, but I'm pretty sure this is because of paper type.

4. I let the transfer dry. Meanwhile, I take a 2.5" baked square of white Sculpey clay, and paint it with TLS for an adhesive.

5. Once the transfer is dry, I apply it to the baked Sculpey square. This is where I run into the most frustrating problem. I try to be as meticulous as I can, but no matter what the transfer is wrinkled in some places, bumpy, etc. during and after baking. (I am not sure if this will always be the case or if it is a flaw on my part. Perhaps I am painting the TLS for adheisve too thick?)

Last night I tried using the method where I paint TLS onto Sculpey, and then place the image on top of that and bake it. I tried it with some magazine images and it turned out okay. I couldn't get the transfer to stay perfect on the Sculpey though. It came up in parts.

Your encyclopedia has been helpful in helping me sort out some problems. Can you offer any other advice?

Thanks
Meghan
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Diane B.
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2007 04:12:09 PM »

Quote
1. I said it was a Dover coloring book because I thought it might give insight as to what type of paper it was. I realize it probably isn't the best paper to use. I use a square template to trace and then cut out a section of the coloring page, so I am left with a 2.5"  square.. . .
2. I color the square with colored pencils, and then paint on a thin layer of TLS
3. . . . then rub it off. It is time consuming and I must be careful not to tear the transfer, but I'm pretty sure this is because of paper type.

Oh, so you're using the Dover coloring book page itself to create your transfer image with.  The problem there is that the Dover paper is probably pretty porous and rough compared to many other papers so it may hold onto the liquid clay more than a slicker paper would (there are various types of smoother papers, like the ones I mentioned before).

Then there's are the black lines I presume you drew-between with the colored pencils.  Those lines generally won't transfer very well unless they're toner-based (unless using a very few special papers/methods). 
So the usual way to do what I think you're wanting would be to make a photocopy of the Dover black and white image, then color in the photocopy with the colored pencils.  (Photocopiers use "toner" which is much easier to transfer than the ink used by an inkjet printer, or probably whatever Dover used to make their lines.  Laser printers and some of the newer computer printers also use toner  instead of inkjet ink and they'd work the same way). 
You could use a b&w photocopier, but also use a color copier (some people even feel that a color copier gives a more easily transferrable black, but color copies are more expensive).

Quote
4. I let the transfer dry. Meanwhile, I take a 2.5" baked square of white Sculpey clay, and paint it with TLS for an adhesive.
5. Once the transfer is dry, I apply it to the baked Sculpey square. This is where I run into the most frustrating problem. I try to be as meticulous as I can, but no matter what the transfer is wrinkled in some places, bumpy, etc. during and after baking. (I am not sure if this will always be the case or if it is a flaw on my part. Perhaps I am painting the TLS for adheisve too thick?)

Here are some possibilties that may apply from the Transfers page (and may also apply to the TLS in your adhesive step):

...You can defeat the air bubbles (that we can't see) by letting the TLS sit for 20 minutes before putting in the oven... or by tapping the underside gently ...or running a needle tool slowly thru it. . . . sometimes I do all three: needle tool, tap, and then let it sit.  Pat
...I've had air bubbles occur ... from the liquid clay. . . .the fault is the method used in pressing the transfer down into the liquid clay ...I start from the center of the transfer and GENTLY press in a circular pattern outward toward the edges of the transfer ...but if you press too hard in one area more than another, you can trap an air bubble into place. Need2Bead
......you can also "squeegee" the liquid polymer over the image to be transferred using a credit card, and this, too, will help minimize bubbles. Meredith
.....I heat the paper a little with my embossing gun to dry it thoroughly before applying the liquid clay...especially if f the weather is damp because sometimes bubbles form from water vapor in the paper. Diane C.
... Baking the piece under a weight such as a small tile will help the transfer avoid bubbles. Susan
...decals may sometimes adhere better with the shiny side smoothed side down against the clay.


Also if you try the glass method for making the decal, it may not end up with as rough a surface which could I suppose trap air bubbles?

Since you got to all but the last step without the bumpiness/bubbles, you could also just use a different adhesive between the decal and the TLS/baked clay, one that would air-dry and not need to be baked... a few possibilities would be (permanent) white glue, a clear acrylic like Varathane or Future, a clear acrylic medium, etc.

Quote

Last night I tried using the method where I paint TLS onto Sculpey, and then place the image on top of that and bake it. I tried it with some magazine images and it turned out okay.
 

(Magazine page images are the probably the easiest ones to transfer, whether using decal or direct method.)

Quote
I couldn't get the transfer to stay perfect on the Sculpey though. It came up in parts.


Not sure what you mean by this... do you mean that some colored areas of the transfer come up with the paper and don't transfer well, or what?


Diane B.
(whose DearKitty will probably make it  Grin Grin, though we may have to deal with this problem every so often from now on out, says the vet  Tongue Tongue)

« Last Edit: April 27, 2007 04:17:26 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
mgodby86
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2007 06:58:49 PM »

Hi Diane,

Thanks again...hope your cat is doing better! I really appreciate your website, it gives me lots of ideas. I checked out some of your work too and it's very impressive.

Yes I didn't think that the Dover paper was the best to use. I photocopied another page today on much smoother paper and hope that it works!

About the last part of my post... when I tried the direct transfer onto clay, at first I had trouble with it being discolored after I peeled it off. After decreasing cooking time a bit, and allowing more time to cool, I solved this problem. But when I peel it off, parts of the transfer didn't stick. I just did a few for experimenting, but maybe it's because the squares I made aren't completely flat. I hand rolled the clay because I don't have a pasta machine (yet).

Thanks!
Meghan
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Diane B.
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2007 09:43:09 AM »

Quote
But when I peel it off, parts of the transfer didn't stick. I just did a few for experimenting, but maybe it's because the squares I made aren't completely flat. I hand rolled the clay because I don't have a pasta machine (yet).

It could be that one of the reasons is because your clay isn't totally flat (leaving air underneath), but it's also true that getting everything to transfer is frequently a problem with most all transfer methods!  If you want to make sure the clay is flat without a pasta machine, one good way is to use "guiderails" when rolling it out (more info on doing that here:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/pastamachines.htm
... click on No Pasta Machine?...Other Ways...)

Also just be careful to really rub and/or squeegee the paper image down really well ...sitting a while together will help, but pressure and heat are the best helpers even after one has gotten a right paper, ink/toner/etc., and other-stuff combo right already  (sometimes rubbing the back with a "solvent" like plain water can help too.)  You might also want to try vellum as your paper; it's supposed to release well and doesn't cost as much as regular "transfer papers."


Diane B.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
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