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Sunday, April 27, 2014

What is the Alcohol Gel Image Transfer Process and how is it done?

The alcohol gel process allows you to transfer images to many different printmaking papers.  The process involves printing a reverse image onto image transfer film and then dissolving both the inkjet receptive coating and the inkjet ink on the film using the alcohol gel that has been applied to the paper. This technique produces beautifully detailed images with a unique and artistic look quite similar to the old Polaroid image transfer process. The alcohol gel process can be used on a variety of inkjet printers from desktop to wide format professional models. Image courtesy Janet Kramer (

Materials Needed:
-  A inkjet printed image, in reverse, on inkAID Transfer Film, using pigment based ink.
-  Arches 88 printmaking paper large enough for your image.  You can also use other unsized printmaking papers with a smooth surface. Always test small pieces first.
-  Purell alcohol gel hand sanitizer. Do not use a substitute brand of hand sanitizer as the process may not work properly.
-  Safety equipment: Waterproof gloves, Eye Protection, Respirator if sensitive to alcohol vapor.  
-  Plastic scraper (credit card or equivalent).
-  Brayer

        1. In a well ventilated, cool (< 80F), work area place the paper on a smooth, firm,  waterproof surface. Work quickly, but carefully, as the Purell Hand Sanitizer gel begins to evaporate as soon as it is applied.
        2. Wearing gloves, pour the Purell Hand Sanitizer gel onto the paper spreading it evenly with the plastic scraper. Add sufficient gel so that the paper is thoroughly wetted. Then flip the paper over and repeat on the other side. Don’t leave excess, unabsorbed, gel on the surface.
        3. Before handling the printed film, make sure your hands are clean of any remaining Purell Hand Sanitizer gel. 
        4. To place the printed image transfer film onto the paper, place it over the paper, without letting it touch the paper, and position it where you want the image to be. Then set one edge of the film down on the paper. Using the brayer, slowly place the film in contact with the surface of the paper. This method prevents air bubbles from being trapped under the film and causing defects in the image. 
        5. Once the film is in complete contact with the paper, you’ll need to lightly press it to complete the image transfer. Use the brayer to lightly press the film down onto the paper being sure to go over the entire surface of the image. Allow the film to remain on the paper for about a minute. 
        6. Carefully lift one corner of the film and visually check to see that the image been transferred. If the transfer is not complete, press the film down and wait several seconds more. A very small amount of coating and ink may remain on the film. This is normal. Practicing the technique several times will tell you how long the transfer process takes. Once the image transfer is complete, slowly pick up one corner of the film and continue removing it from the paper. 
        7. Allow the finished transfer to air dry for several hours or overnight. Don’t try to accelerate the drying process as this may damage the appearance of the image. Don’t move the imaged paper until it is completely dry. 

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