This project is me exploring decorating a military dogtag shaped wooden blank.
The wooden blank is laser cut, I made it at TechShop.
I used an image from the comic book "One Piece" of a pirate ship.
I have seen several good how-to's on laser printer transfers... but I don't think I have seen anybody color one in, and why the heck not! Coloring stuff in is something I got straight A's in all through elementary school.
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Step 1: Supplies
-item you want to decorate (wooden? but a lot of things could work for this)
>>If you don't live near a techshop, you can buy a blank wooden dogtag from my etsy shop =)
-acrylic medium or gesso (modge podge probably too? it just needs to be not water soluble and pretty adhesive)
-laser print out (NOT INK JET) you can use all black OR color
---so, taking your favorite comic to the kinkos to make laser color copies would be awesome
!!!!!!Your image transfer will result in a mirror image of whatever your print out is, so if your image has text, or you are picky, you will need to flip your image over (ie with your computer before printing or with a smart photo copier). So when the transfer process flips it, it will flip back to its original state.
-nice paint brush or foam brush to apply medium or gesso
-acrylic paint (optional)
-detail brush (optional)
I am using a dogtag shaped piece of wood cut with a laser, so I sanded the piece pretty well to get the burn marks off. Depending on what kind of thing you are transferring an image to, you probably also want to sand it a little to give the surface some 'tooth' to accept either gesso or acrylic medium (or similar).
In this example I used gesso as my base, because I intend to color in the black outlines with paint. But if you are happy with just black or you have a color laser print image then the acrylic medium is all you need. (I need both, the gesso as my base to paint on and the acrylic medium as a sealer.)
Because placement is a one shot deal with this method, you need to plan your image placement. In my case, I drew an outline from my dogtag laser scraps and cut out the piece of the image that I wanted.
Make sure your surface is clean of dust etc, and then paint a nice thick even coat of the non-water soluble base of your choice. (I used clear gesso here.)
Then quick before it dries at all smash your image face down onto the surface. Make sure it is exactly where you want it, then do your best to get out any air bubbles. Give the whole surface a good rub but be careful not to shift the paper. Any part that doesn't contact the base you painted down won't transfer.
Now.... you have to wait. I only waited a few hours, and set this little guy next to my laptop fan to speed dry. But for a large piece, and if you don't want to be a sad panda, you really should let your piece dry 24 hours.
If you attempt the next step and your piece hasn't finished drying you will have bits of your image coming off =(
Once the piece is dry, start to gently wet and rub the paper. This will start to give you little bits of paper pilling and rolling off your piece. You need to be very, very delicate and patient. If you are not you will rub away your image. I am using a small cup of water in my lap in these pictures for my water source. Since this is such a small piece I had to stop near the end to let the piece dry out before returning to the piece and finishing up.
Once you have all the paper removed, if you are going to color the piece, add another layer of gesso over the transferred image. This protects the image and still gives you a nice surface to paint on. It is nice to sand the gesso a little before you start to paint, otherwise the gesso strokes will show up. Also sand to remove any excess gesso that may have built up on the sides.
Acrylic paint is a nice uncomplicated choice.
Once you have finished painting OR if you aren't painting, with your piece totally dry, go ahead and seal the whole piece with acrylic medium.
Once the pieces dries again, clear out the hole with a drill bit or diamond bur. And you are done!
Step 6: ....ssscience? (why This Works)
For those of you curious about why this actually works! And why inkjet vs laser printer matters.
Ink jet printers are printers that just drop bits of ink onto paper.
However laser printers use toner, toner is a mixture of powdered plastic and pigment and this combination is melted onto the paper.
For this image transfer process, you lay the laser printed image against the acrylic medium and the plastic text/image adheres to the medium. Rubbing the piece with water dissolves the paper and leaves the toner now safely stuck/embedded in the acrylic medium.