Experimenting: Polaroid Photolab and Polaroid Transfers

Art Journal, Medium, process

This was quite the crash course in Polaroid emulsion transfers for me. And I am very much a novice at this juncture, but, I thought it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far.

(First off, we are playing with chemicals so protect your skin and eyes accordingly)

I used:

  • Polaroid Lab
  • iphone
  • soft paint brush
  • one casserole pan: other blogs suggest proper equipment. I like to use St. Vinnies.
  • scissors
  • warm water
  • Strathmore linen finish acrylic paper.

I prepared three polaroids using the Polaroid Lab.
  • Prepare fresh Polaroids.
    • I was finding that even day old prints were harder to work with.
  • There are a lot of editing opportunities to explore prior to printing with the lab. Color correction, adding artifacts, custom filters etc. I found that it was fun to explore the possibilities, but I had to pull myself back. I am an artist and as much fun as all that is, it is mostly unnecessary.
Cutting into the image a little allows the cover sheet to lift off easier.
  • I found that cutting out the image just about as soon as it was done developing allowed the cover sheet to lift off easier.
    • When I used day old Polaroids they were ripping or they were sticking to the cover sheet and the lifting process didn’t go as well
After dropping into warm water. (I am using a clear pan)
  • The emulsion will lift from the backing in warm water.
    • Working with the fresh Polaroid, the emulsion lifts fairly quickly
    • Don’t use boiling water. I made a booger.
    • By the time I got to the third polaroid the lift was near perfect. There does seem to be a correlation between timing and how easy the process goes.
Catching a “wee little ghost” as one of my artist friends described it.
  • Some tutorials say to use two water baths, one hot water and one cold.
    • I found for myself that one tray is enough.
    • I also found that less water is helpful. just enough to cover the paper
A soft brush to help get the emulsion into place
  • I’m using a heavy weight paper made to take acrylic paint. It has a lovely texture to it. And Im using the brush to help move the emulsion around.
  • When you get it where you want you’ll have to learn a technique for yourself to pin it to the paper while lifting it out of the water.
    • A little water reintroduced will lift any problem areas.
One of the final images.

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