Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Using Images in my work

First I will tell you a little about my background. I started in theatre and my degree is in oil painting. My painting was always centered on still life. I loved arranging those little objects like characters on a stage. As I continued my painting I found I enjoyed working in a very small scale and this aspect has carried over into my jewelry design.
I love working with stones and shells but recently I have been fascinated with this idea of incorporating images in my work. I think what pushed me explore this was a couple pendants my husband found for me. One is a Frida Kahlo pendant (she is a major source of inspiration) and the other is a wonderful Asian figure embedded in resin. Through experiments I have found a number of ways to incorporate images. For now I will focus on image transfer.
In some pieces I use the image directly on the object. I will just cut out the image, place it on the support (whether it is metal, bamboo tile, a button) and then apply a clear protective coat finish. I also like to be able to layer images. My penguin piece is an example of this.
I like to use OMNI-GEL you can get it from Fire Mountain Beads http://www.firemountaingems.com. This transfer gel dries clear so it can be used as a protective coat and glue as well. Cut out the image you would like to use, but leave a little edge surrounding the image you can remove this later. I like to prep several images at once. I cut along the seams of a plastic bag and lay it open for my surface workspace wax paper works too.
Apply the gel in three coats with a brush. First coat brush across the image horizontally and then let this dry. The second coat you brush vertically, let it dry. The last coat you brush in a diagonal direction and let this dry. You can brush thick or thin - I like the thick because it adds a painterly texture. After the three coats I usually let it sit overnight.
Typically the paper gets stuck on the plastic so in the morning I just slide an exact-o under the edge of the paper - otherwise the image can stretch. Soak the images upside down in warm water for 10-20 minutes. Take them out one at a time place face down and begin to rub the paper off the back of the image with your finger or a lint-free cloth - I like to use a dishtowel. You can decide how much paper to remove based on how transparent you would like your image to be. Let them dry. Once they are dry you can remove the extra edging you left when you first cut out the image. I usually use scissors for this as the exact-o can sometimes pull at the image and stretch it.
Now you can apply your image to the desired surface. It can either be placed in the original orientation and have a glossy finish or upside down and have a mat finish.
As for images there is a great free ephemera website http://www.art-e-zine.co.uk/ephemera.html and of course the collage websites are awesome. Some of the collage sheets are on thick paper so you really need to commit to rubbing off the back. But if you print from a free image website or royalty free book (Dover has a great series) then plain printer paper is pretty forgiving.

Additional photos of work in progress can be seen below...

1 comment:

  1. Wow.. thanks for all that info! It's such an intriguing process that I've always wondered about. I think I'd really enjoy doing some image work as well. So let me get this right... you put 3 coats of the gel just on the image side, leaving the back uncoated so that it can be rubbed away later?
    Yey! Something new to try:)


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