Photo Transfer on Glass

Original image
Several months ago, I purchased Jody Danner Walker's book, "Printmaking Techniques on Glass" (you can find it on the warmglass site). I read the book cover-to-cover like most fused glass books that come into my hands. While I don't always incorporate all the techniques I read about into my art, there is always something to learn and something that sparks new ideas.

One of the techniques I was intrigued with was the author's method of transferring photographs to glass. I love being in nature with my camera, and of course, I love creating with glass. Here was a technique that allowed me to combine the two!

So months after reading the book and putting it away on the shelf, I finally decided to dust off the book and give the method a try. We had recently been backpacking in the Grand Tetons and I had some great photographs (well, OK, I'm biased, but I liked them!). The photo transfer technique relies on the image rendering well in black in white, which was a bit of a challenge, but I finally decided on a picture of wildflowers that was taken while hiking down North Cascade Canyon.

Photo transfer image on fused glass
My first task was to convert the image to black and white. That part was easy with photo editing software. Next, I reversed the image and printed it on our Canon ImageClass MF4890. The toner cartridge for the printer has a fairly high ferrite content, which is one of the secrets of the technique. I then transferred the image from the paper to a piece of glass and fired it. I won't give that secret away -- you'll have to buy Jody's book!

The fired image was 4x6". I decided its final destination would be on a white background tinted with colored frit, so I applied the frit to the white glass and fired. Once that was complete, I placed the fired photo transfer image on the glass (transfer-side up), capped with clear, and fired. The finished piece is to the right (sorry for the poor quality photograph, but I wanted to get a post written while the project was still on my mind). You'll notice that the black turned sepia colored -- that is one of the results of this technique (basically, the iron in the toner fires to a reddish brown).

There are manufacturers who make special photo paper for fusing, but this method has always seemed like "cheating" to me so I've never bothered. I suppose it's similar to the reasons I shy away from pre-made decals. Perhaps there is not much difference, but to me a technique feels more authentic and creative when it uses fewer prepackaged solutions. I like that I can use regular paper, a regular printer, glass, and a few other items I already have in my studio.

I enjoyed experimenting with the technique and plan to do a few more pieces to explore it further. What a great way to get all those images in nature onto glass!


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