Experimenting: Polaroid Photolab and Polaroid Transfers

Polaroid emulsion transfers are a new process for me, but, I thought it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far.

(First, 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.
Polaroids developed with Polaroid Lab by Marquette Michigan visual artist Taryn Okesson.
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.
The Process of removing the polaroid emulsion from the plastic sheathing by Marquette Michigan visual artist Taryn Okesson.
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
Floating a Polaroid Emulsion Lift in warm water, the lift begins to crumple as it leaves the surface by Michigan Artist Taryn Okesson.
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.
The emulsion lift is floating in the water completely. Image by Marquette Michigan Artist Taryn Okesson.
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
Using a soft paint brush to position the emulsion lift onto a new substrate. Image and work by Marquette Michigan visual artist Taryn Okesson
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▪️
The final image, an imperfect emulsion lift on a new substrate shows tears and folds, all artifacts of the emulsion lift process. artwork by Marquette Michigan Artist Taryn Okesson.
One of the final images.

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Oops! That’s mine. All images on this site belong to Taryn Okesson©️