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Tag: encaustic

How I Do Parchment Paper Image Transfers on Encaustic

I’ve had a few artists contact me with questions about parchment paper transfers on encaustic so I thought I’d write a post about how I do it.

Parchment paper transfers use toner. Some people claim to be able to do parchment paper transfers using an inkjet printer, but I haven’t had any luck with that at all. I use an inexpensive HP LaserJet CP1025nw color laser printer to do both parchment paper and water transfers.

I use plain old parchment paper from the grocery. Nothing fancy or particularly expensive. The beauty of parchment paper is that you can print multiple times on both sides.

Parchment Paper

In my experience, fine lines are a bit more difficult to get with parchment paper transfers; I’ve had more success with water transfers. But parchment paper releases the toner onto the wax very quickly and easily, with little pressure, and it works well with both color and black and white images. Another great thing about this type of transfer is that you don’t need any solvents or water.

The parchment paper I use comes in a roll. I cut an 8.5×11-inch piece and put something heavy on it to flatten it. I usually let it sit overnight so it’s nice and flat, otherwise it’s difficult to get it to run through the laser printer. I’ve tried using a carrier sheet by taping the parchment paper to a plain piece of printer paper and running it through the printer, but it jams every time. Sticky tape residue on the rollers is a nightmare to get off.

Cut parchment paper to size needed

Once the parchment paper sheet is nice and flat, I load it into the printer’s feed tray just like a regular sheet of paper. With my image prepared in Photoshop, I send it to the printer and keep my fingers crossed!

Image being prepped in Photoshop

Don’t forget to flip your image in Photoshop before printing, otherwise your transfer will be facing the wrong way. This is especially important if you’re including text in your transfer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to flip the image before printing it.

Image printed on parchment paper

For this piece I’m using a 6×6-inch panel that I prepped with two coats of R&F encaustic gesso and at least four layers of clear encaustic medium. I try to make the surface as smooth as possible so the transfer will go on easily.

Smooth surface

I warm the surface slightly with a heat gun. You could also use a torch. It depends on which you prefer to use. The surface should look shiny and be a little sticky to the touch. You don’t want it to be completely melted and liquified.

Placing the image face down on the wax surface, I start by burnishing with my fingers. The toner will start to come off almost immediately, so you don’t want to burnish until you’ve got your image placed.

Start burnishing with your fingers

After burnishing with my fingers, I move on to using the edge of a metal spoon. You’ll be able to see the toner coming off the parchment paper and sticking to the wax, which makes it easier to see areas that might need a bit more burnishing.

Gently burnish with the edge of a spoon

After thoroughly burnishing the entire image, I pull back the edge of the parchment paper carefully to see if there are any little specks of toner left on it. Don’t pull it off completely! If there’s toner left on the paper, put the paper down and burnish again. When all the toner has transferred, the parchment paper will be blank.

Pull back the paper to see the transfer

If something transferred that you don’t like or want, you can use a scraping tool to remove it. Just be sure to remove whatever you want before you seal the transfer with clear medium. I use a lineoleum cutting tool for cleaning up small areas.

The next step is critical. Before sealing with clear medium, I fuse the transfer VERY, VERY LIGHTLY, just enough to push the toner into the wax. I find parchment paper transfers to be extremely delicate. They’re much quicker to slide around and separate than water transfers when heated. Heating the surface before sealing helps keep the transfer from smearing when the clear medium is applied.

At this point I let the piece cool down before putting on the layer of clear medium so there’s no danger of the wax being too soft and the image being dragged across the surface with the brush. Make sure your brush is hot and keep it moving over the transfer. I tend to do a fairly thin layer of medium.

When you fuse this layer, be very careful. Too much heat will melt the wax under the transfer and the image will start to disintegrate and slide around. It just needs to be heated until it goes shiny. Sometimes there are still brushmarks in the wax around the transfer. I wait until the piece has cooled and then I’ll gently fuse again.

Finished transfer

You can put more than one layer of clear medium over the transferred image if you like, but I usually stop here, leaving my transfer at the top of the layers of my encaustic piece.

Here’s the original photo for this piece:

Girl Picking Berries

Are you experimenting with parchment paper transfers?

Found Film in a Brownie Turned Into Photoencaustic Art

Last summer I was in a thrift store in Ohio when I found a Brownie Hawkeye Flash camera. I had to have it — it still had film in it!

I developed and scanned the film and these are the photos I found:








I made the two exposures that turned out the best into photo encaustic pieces. Each image was printed on a laser printer and transferred onto a cradled board coated with clear encaustic medium. I enhanced the transfers with oil pastel, watercolor, and encaustic paint.

Here are the two finished photoencaustic works:

Mists of Time I - photoencaustic by Susan Stayer

Mists of Time II - photoencaustic by Susan Stayer

Hot Off the Palette: Two New Photo Encaustic Pieces

Shady Side

Photography is my first love and I enjoy it immensely, but sometimes it’s fun to expand on photography and take it in new directions.

Recently I’ve been working a lot on combining photographs with encaustic. I’ve been printing photos on Hosho paper and then embedding them in clear encaustic medium. I’ve also printed them on watercolor paper and used acrylic gel medium to adhere them to the board before covering the photos with encaustic medium.

Neither of those processes excites me much.

Summer Glow

Then I tried transferring a color laser print of the photo onto the wax surface and fusing it. Called a “water transfer,” in this process the toner becomes part of the layer of wax. After a couple more thin layers of clear encaustic medium, I enhance the piece with watercolors and oil sticks.

Now that’s a LOT more exciting!

So for the past couple of months I’ve been experimenting with photo transfers and encaustic. I’m calling them “photo encaustics” for lack of a better term.

A New Encaustic Photo Transfer: This Time It’s a Rooster

I’ve been working on some new encaustic pieces during the past two weeks. Inspired by the image transfer demonstration I saw at the encaustic conference back in June, I’ve been trying my hand at a few of these “water transfers.”

The process requires patience, which isn’t really one of my strengths! It’s worth it though when the paper is rubbed away and the image has transferred nicely into the surface of the wax.

I started with a cropped version of one of the photos I took during the 2011 Fields Project. I added layers of wax, oil stick, and even used a paper doily to add texture.


Grant’s Roosters, I, will be included in the Power of Color III show at Gallery West. The show opens on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, with an artists’ reception on Saturday, August 13, from 5 to 8 pm.