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The secret of getting bright color transfers onto the clay lies in the paper you use. Inkjet ink does not transfer, as most of you know. And copy shop copies make very pale images. But with the right paper both inkjet prints, right from your computer printer, as well as copy shop prints, will give you startlingly bright copies.
Two of Dotty's pins made with the Picture Perfect technique.
First of all, for the brightest color, use white clay as the base. Second, buy a pack of T-Shirt transfer paper made especially for ink jet printers. Canon and HP both put out excellent papers. The cost is approximately $15 for ten sheets. There may be others that work just as well, but my experiments have all been with the Canon and HP papers.
Examples of a regular color transfer (left) and the "Picture Perfect" method.
Cut out the print, leaving one edge that can be turned up to make it easier to remove the paper from the clay. Lay the print out on the clay and very carefully burnish the surface. Don't miss any area. If the paper doesn't touch the clay, that area will not print, leaving it white.
Be careful when you pick up the clay that the paper does not lift anywhere. Place the piece into a PRE-HEATED oven. The temperature should be the one that is recommended for your clay.
Leave the piece in the oven for only five to seven minutes. You may want to experiment with this timing, a minute or so either way, to get the best results. Take the piece out of the oven and carefully remove the paper. You'll see your bright image, but it's not finished yet.
Place the piece back into the oven and complete the full baking time. Let the piece cool in the oven. The result will be a brightly colored transfer that will be water proof.
You will get this result with both the copy shop print and the inkjet print. This was the only method that I tried which gave me a nice, smooth, waterproof finish. Inkjet ink is not waterproof in it's original state, but this method appears to heat- set it.
Remember, your final transfer will only be as good as the picture you use. If your photo or picture print is dull, then your transfer will be also. However, with this method, the transfer does tend to come out a bit brighter than the print on the paper. One way to tell if your transfer has worked the way it should is to look at the paper after you remove it from the clay. It should be clean, with no ink left on the surface. All of it should transfer to the clay. You may, however, find a bit of ink here and there around the edges, which is normal. After doing this technique with white clay as the base, you'll find it interesting to experiment with various other colors of base clay.
I hope you find this technique valuable. If you have any questions or problems feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org