Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gel Transfers

In this tutorial we will learn how to transfer images into fabric using gel mediums.

Things you will need:
1. Golden medium heavy gel
2. Some type of fabric
3. An image to be transferred
4. Roller

For this particular tutorial I am using heavy gel matte, but you can use regular gel and soft gel as well. Similarly, you don't have to use matte. Gloss will work the same way, but it will give you a glossy finish. As far as images go, I found it best to use an inkjet printout. Do experiment with other images such as magazine cut outs, brochures, postcards etc. I tried all of them, and to me inkjet printouts work the best.
Now for the fabric, I am using old cotton sheets. Begin by applying the gel onto the image. The easiest way to do this is to use your finger. Make sure you cover the whole surface. Don't let it sit too long or it will dry and won't transfer.

When you done, turn the image over and place it with the side that has the gel on it down onto the fabric. Take your hard roller and start rolling. Make sure to roll long enough for the whole surface to adhere to the fabric.

Let it sit for while. How long? Well, I let it sit long enough for me to make myself a cup of tea with honey and lemon. :-) Now, peel off a corner and if most of the colors transferred, peel off the whole thing. There is always going to be some ink still left on the paper. Don't worry about it.

As you can see, there is still some white paper left on the transferred image. What you want to do is get a wet paper towel and slightly dab the white spots.

Rub the wet spots with your finger. Do not apply too much pressure or you will rub off the actual image. Do it until there is no more white left. The second picture below show half of the image rubbed off and half with paper still left on it.

Finish the cleaning up the whole image and then apply the same gel that you used in the begining. This time, don't put too much. Just enough to seal the image. Let it dry.

You're done. You can use this techniques on various surfaces such as fabric, wood, cardboard and more. If you're going for a worn out look, just rub off more of the image. Don't get upset if you don't achieve the desired results on your first try. You have to get used to the gels and get the feel of it. After that it's a snap. I've ruined a quite a few images before I got the hang of. Different surfaces yield different results. Also, before printing out the image, make sure you bring up the contrast in your editing program. (I will do a tutorial on that as well)

As always, if you would like me to do a different tutorial, leave a comment. If I am able, I will do it. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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beth said...

I've done the same transfers using muslin as my fabric and my original printing onto a transparency first.
I actually put the gel medium onto the fabric first and then I use the back of a spoon to rub/transfer the image. With a transparency you get a nice image without the paper mess.
Thanks for sharing !!!

Alison Gibbs said...

HI Lara thanks for visiting my blog. Yeh its fine to exchange links.
I will have to try out some of your tutorials.

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Hi Beth
I always had troubleprinting out onto a transparensy film :-) Everything gets smeared on my end.

Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

What a wonderful blog. So generous of you to teach us different tecniques. Come visit me. ~ Lynn

Britt- Sparkled Vintage Charm said...

how cool!!!!

LadyLinoleum said...

Lara, your site is wonderful! So sorry it took me so long to get over here after you left me a comment on my blog. I added you as a link on my sidebar. Your tutorials are a much needed resource on the web!

Anonymous said...

What a great project. Thanks for explaining how to do this so thoroughly. I love tutorials and lots of pictures. I'll have to try this myself sometime.

Anonymous said...

I wouldlike to know how to use paper napkins - I am a scrapbooker and love the look of exotic napkins but don't know where to start!
Marelle Australia

Anonymous said...

This is cool...I'd forgotten the name of the gel when I used to transfer photos to tiles a few years ago...I want to try this on t-shirts...has anyone done this? Any tips. I especially like the idea about putting the gel on the fabric and then rubbing the back of the paper/photo with a paper to rub off..very nice. So the gel will seal the image too even for washing? Or do I need a fabric sealant? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It would be nice for someone to answer the question about T-Shirts that was left on March 30.

Lynn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this technique :)