Wheee! Every now and then I find a project that is simple, cheap, and turns out great. This was one of them. I had previously posted about using iron on transfers to make a cute framed print, but I’m not crazy about the glue left behind from the transfer. Then my husband told me that you could use a solvent to transfer laser printed images (I’m pretty sure his motivation was not entirely altruistic… I kept threatening to try the direct inkjet print technique and I think he was scared I would break the printer) and so I set out to try it.
Note: Only a laser printer will work for this. The solvent dissolves the toner, and then you rub the back of the paper to transfer the dissolved image on to an absorbent surface, like fabric.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Acetone or lacquer thinner* (I used acetone… we’re talking full-strength)
- Small glass bowl for the acetone/thinner
- Image printed on a laser printer
- Material you want to print on, like canvas or burlap
- Iron-on fabric stabilizer (optional, but it will keep the print from looking floppy)
- Fine-tip Sharpie marker for touch up (optional)
- Burnishing tool, or a spoon in a pinch
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Non-porous hard surface to work on, like a baking pan
*use in a properly ventilated area, especially if using the lacquer thinner! As always when working with chemicals, make sure you take protective measures and use safely.
1) Iron the fabric and figure out where you want to place the transfer. Tape it in place on all sides, and brush acetone over the image (the acetone will probably make the tape not stick super well, so be careful not to touch it and keep a hand on the back of the paper). If you have a large image, you’ll want to do it a section at a time, because the acetone will evaporate quickly.
2) Quickly burnish (rub) the image to transfer it from the paper to the fabric. Pay close attention to areas that are more finely detailed (like text). Stop burnishing once the acetone has evaporated.
3) If you want to touch up any areas, re-apply acetone and burnish again- just make sure the paper hasn’t moved. Then, peel and admire! If the image didn’t transfer perfectly, you can cheat and use a fine-tip sharpie to fill it in.
4) If using the fabric stabilizer, iron on the back of the fabric print. You could even hot glue it to a piece of cardboard. Cut to size for your frame of choice, and you’re done!
Compared to the iron-on transfer I did, it’s a little bit more faded. The transfer doesn’t go on with the same sharp, black lines. BUT there is no glue residue, and I like the faded look! It looks even more like a vintage grain sack this way.
Love it! What do you think, any other ideas for what I could transfer next? I have a lot of acetone left…