Instructables

Transfer Photos onto Plexiglass

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I created these semi transparent plexiglass tiles from photocopies and laser printouts. Since each photo becomes transparent, you can layer several images to create one design. I also added some color and backing to give a more vintage feel. I picked a couple of ladies that I think are pretty awesome, Alfonsina Strada and Ruth Asawa and layered text and images that related to their lives and careers.

You can use any image as long as it's been printed with a laser printer or copied on a copy machine. Part of the aesthetic of this technique is that it isn't a perfect transfer, so it works great for vintage photographs or anything that could use a bit of detritus. 
 
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Step 1: Materials

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You'll need:
- A piece of plexiglass
- Photocopy or laser printed images or text (get extra copies)
- Clear gel medium (you'll find it at any art store in the paint section)
- Squeegee (or a small block of wood works too)
- Paintbrush

Optional:
- Semi-transparent paper
- Markers
Pat_Maroney9 months ago
I have another question. Are the papers with text printed on common printer paper, and
are the letters cut out or on whole sheets (meaning besides the cutout figure are you doing layers of intact sheets of paper)?
leftmusing (author)  Pat_Maroney9 months ago
Hi there! It's just standard printer paper and whole sheets. I cut out the figure since it was only on a small part of the page, but the other layers covered the entire surface. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the response it defintely helps! Now I understand why you advise netflix since you use whole sheets :p
I'm making one devoted to Ira Glass, I'll post a picture when it's done!
Pat_Maroney10 months ago
This is fantastic. I'm definitely doing this!
Lucky me I have some acrylic hanging around, will this technique work with glass as well?
leftmusing (author)  Pat_Maroney10 months ago
I don't see why not :) There is also another technique with glass that allows you to pull the transfers off of the glass for use on canvases or anything else. But that's a whole other project.
mzions10 months ago
Looks like an awesome afternoon project. I wonder what it would look like if the acrylic was edge-lit.
mommyhen4211 months ago
Will this work with regular printer ink?
I love it and want to do one as a gift for my husband
leftmusing (author)  mommyhen4211 months ago
Unfortunately, it doesn't work with an ink jet printer. The gel medium won't pick up the ink in the same way. I'd recommend making photo copies of your images if you don't have access to a laser printer. Good luck on your project!
thank you, this is such a cook idea, cant wait to do it
Closer11 months ago
I am thinking that it would depend on how thick the plastic is. It may soften but that might make the toner stick all the better. If the correct temperature is used, it would not take very long to apply enough heat. After all, it takes place in a fraction of a second in the printer's fuser.
Closer11 months ago
Since you are using Laser printer photos, try laying the photo directly on the plexiglass and running a hot iron over the back of the paper. The toner will melt and (may) stick to the plexiglass. - I have never tried this on plastic so I am not sure what would happen but it would make an interesting experiment.
leftmusing (author)  Closer11 months ago
Interesting idea. I know the ironing technique works for paper and fabric, but it might melt the plexi.
Cyncha22711 months ago
This is wonderful! Good job! As an artist I draw and have done other forms of printmaking. THIS is awesome, and I don't use this word much, if ever! This will give me new avenues of creativity and I'm very happy about this.
It strikes me that one could do their own drawing and photocopy it for one of the layer options. Really, one could do a number of layers they drew and have a very dynamic image in the end. I have one question regarding step four: Where are we rubbing, on the plexi, directly over the paper images that are being transfered, or something else. Sorry to be so dense about this, I just like to visualize a process before I do it and make sure I really it. Thanks!
leftmusing (author)  Cyncha22711 months ago
Thanks! It's a great idea to use original artwork. Sorry I wasn't super clear in step 4. You'll rub directly onto the remaining paper bits that are attached to the plexi. As soon as the gel medium begins to dry, the ink is no longer on the paper so you "scrub" it off without the image coming with it. The only tricky part is that if the medium isn't completely set, you might warp a little bit of the image. Hope that helps!
Cyncha22711 months ago
and make sure I really understand it. "Understand" was the word omitted.
poofrabbit11 months ago
Oh this is plain wicked. I did something similar to a ceramic pot when I was in college, but I love the idea of working with plexi! Going on my I need to make this list!
leftmusing (author)  poofrabbit11 months ago
Thanks! I like the idea of ceramic too. Good luck on your project!
crsdtet11 months ago
Can't wait to try this!