What do you do with unwanted photos? Don't let it go to waste by using them for experiments and alternative photographic processes. Community member Kathryn Reichert (@ksreichert) was kind enough to share her technique behind the dream-like photos in her LomoHome album, Gilded.
How did you come up with this idea?
I took an alternative photographic processes class that opened my eyes to all sorts of different printing methods people use to complement their work. Up until that point, anything other than a straight inkjet or darkroom print was very much a mystery to me albeit, a very cool mystery that I became absolutely enamored with! I had been looking for a way to display some of my photos that would play up their dream-like qualities more than a traditional print would.
Is this your first time to do this technique?
I experimented with several techniques I thought might lend themselves well to an ethereal presentation. My album, Gilded, is mostly made up of acrylic gel image transfers over metal leaf but also includes a few images created with liquid light, Polaroids, and intaglio prints, as well. This was the first time I incorporated metal leaf into any of these techniques and also the first time I had used liquid light. Previously, I had experimented with backlighting images by transferring them onto glass using the acrylic gel method. I had also worked a little with Polaroid transfers on paper.
What do you like about this process and the material that you used?
I really love the dimension that the metal leaf imparts to the photos. There’s also the additional depth these processes inherently add to the prints: the layers of gel medium, the Polaroid emulsion (or the Polaroid transparency, in one case), the liquid light, the embossment from the etching… All of the processes change the 2D-scape of the print, even if only slightly.
If you don't mind sharing, can you tell us about the process?
The majority of images in Gilded are created by transferring an image via an acrylic gel medium. It’s a fairly straightforward process but is one that should definitely not be rushed. I begin by painting four or five coats of acrylic gel medium (I use Golden Regular Semi-Gloss Gel) on an image that has been flipped horizontally and printed on a standard LaserJet printer. I let each layer dry before applying the next. The image will actually be transferred from the copy paper into the gel medium.
To prepare my paper, I mark off the area the image will go and use the same gel medium to adhere to a sheet of metal leaf. I like to experiment with different brushes when applying the gel medium; the brushstrokes will show through the metal leaf, giving you an opportunity to add some great complementary texture. Once I am certain the gel has completely dried, I brush off any excess leaf and coat the paper with Krylon Acrylic Clear Coat spray.
I usually wait a day or so to make sure the gel on the image and the paper are absolutely dry. Then I paint a thick layer of gel both on the image and on the area of the paper where you want the image to go. It’s important to be quick and fairly precise here; the gel dries quickly. I use a soft brayer to smooth out any air bubbles and wrinkles and leave it to dry for another day.
To remove the copy paper and reveal the image suspended in the gel medium, I spray a little water at a time on the copy paper and just use my fingers to rub it off. Every so often you’ll want to let the paper dry so you can see any areas you missed. It will take a while to get all of the paper pulp off. Over time you will develop a feel for the right combination of water and pressure and you’ll become quicker at this step, but it is important not to rush at first. The gel is delicate and can tear easily.
After I’ve removed the pulp, I give the print one last spray of the Krylon Clear Coat. This not only helps to protect the final print but also enhances contrast. And that’s it, you’re all done!
Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing your photos and techniques with the community!