This LO has been many months in my head, and it turned out as wonderfully as it looked in the head. Which is amazing because, that never happens.
The first thing I did was google how to do an image transfer. I used the gel medium method. It’s super easy (if a little time consumptive) and works perfectly the first try! Seriously.
To do it, you have to start with wether or not you care if the streaks from your brush are going to show. If you do, you will have to either have a reservable image (one that has no left/right side) or you will have to reverse the image yourself (I used Photoshop Elements to do that.) Then you must have an image that has been laser printed. That means either a laser home printer, or a professional photocopy. I used FedEx Copy Store to print mine off a USB device. If you’re using something like a tourist map you picked up at a shop and you don’t care if the brush strokes show, you can use the original, and just put the gel on the front.
After you get your image, you take gel medium (I used Golden Brand Regular Gel, and honestly, it would be awesome if I could get it in a lighter weight) and brush all the way across your image (ink side up, not the paper side). This is where if you’re using the front of your image to brush the gel, you will want to be sure that you’re keeping the brush strokes as even and long as possible. Let the first layer dry completely. Once its dry, brush at a 90° angle from your first layer. (So, if you brushed left to right, now brush top to bottom.) This makes sure your image gets covered without any missed spots. If you want a more distressed look, you can deliberately miss spots. Anything not covered by the gel will not transfer. Let the 2nd layer dry. Repeat the process, rotating the direction of your brush strokes by 90° every layer (I did left-right, top-bottom, right-left, bottom-top to get even coverage across all the image.) The directions I read said you need 8 layers of gel. I think that’s excessive, though it’s possible I use a thicker layer than the person I was following. So, my suggestion is 4 thick layers is enough for most images. It won’t tear, it will be stable. If you want something fragile, go with two thinner layers. (I will tell you about that in a post later this month.)
Once all the images are dry, you will cut out your image (cut as close as you want to your image. I cut maybe 1/8th of an inch away from mine), then soak the paper in warm water. (NOTE: The gel will turn opaque white. Don’t worry. When it dries again, it will be clear!) Once the paper is good and soaked, you will start rubbing away on the paper side. I used my fingers to rub the majority of the paper off. Once I thought I had all the paper off, I switched to a scrubby sponge, and got the last bits of paper that I couldn’t actually see when it was wet. (As it starts to dry, check your image. If it develops a white “haze”, you haven’t got all the paper off, soak it and rub some more. That’s where the scrubby sponge REALLY helps.) If you’re working on the back side (so you will be flipping your image over to adhere), you don’t have to be as careful, as long as you’re putting your image on a pale paper (white/cream/yellow…) Once all the paper is off the gel, let it dry (I try to do this the night before I start working on the actual LO, so that it has all night to dry.) Once it’s dry, you can put it on your background paper. Its vitally important for the image to be totally dry before you do, though, or it will shrink a tiny bit which will seriously warp your paper. Trust me, let it dry.
I was afraid that the gel image would be very fragile, and tear, or I would rub the image off. I had two copies of the map printed so that if I messed up, I would easily be able to start over. Turns out… it was sinch! Seriously, so easy. And the image, whilst flexible, is pretty robust. So, you’re in no danger of tearing your image. Even when you’re scrubbing the paper off the back, it takes some real pressure to rub the ink off! I love this technique.
So, back to how I did my project, specifically. I knew that my map and photo were going to cover the centre of the page, so I wanted to do some extra work on the edges. The first thing I did was stamped my hot air balloon images on watercolour paper. I used embossing ink, then white embossing powder. Normally I use clear, not white, but my clear had gone missing (so much so that I searched for it for at least 2 months, and finally bought a new one!) I sometimes do black powder on black paper, or white powder on white paper, but I really like the effect of the clear. It has a slightly different look. Anyway, that’s how I did the balloon images.
Next, I soaked the paper in water, then dropped ink over it. I do this technique a lot, so I’m pretty familiar with how the water reacts with the paper and the ink. If you haven’t done it before, you may want to practice on some scratch paper. It pretty much works the same as on card stock, but the watercolour paper is thicker. It just makes it easier to work with the water. I let it dry totally (oven on warm. It’s marvelous!)
Once I had that done, I used gel medium to apply the map to my page. (That was the hardest step! Getting enough gel that it stayed wet, but didn’t squish! That won’t be so bad if you have a smaller image. My image was LARGE.)
Then I took strips of washi and tore them length wise, and built up my top/bottom borders. I used different patterns and colours to give it a distress-y look.
Then I took a stencil and my glass bead gel (seriously, if you haven’t tried this…. it’s amazing. Probably my favourite.) and made some patterns over the edges of the various previous layers.
Once all that was done (took 2 days!) I applied my photo, and the rest was pretty much traditional scrapping.
Yes, this took a while, but I really love the results. I will (and have!) used it again. Really gorgeous results.