Friday, June 28, 2013

Handcrafted Photography........

When I first started selling my work, my business cards said "Dianne Poinski  Handcrafted Photographic Images". Later on I would shorten it to "Handcrafted Photography". At this time I offered only hand colored photographs, so it made sense to emphasize the "hand made" nature of my work.

Upon the advice of a friend who felt that anything with the word "craft" in it could conjure up images of knitted toilet paper covers, I changed it to simply "Dianne Poinski Photography". This worked because as you know, eventually I would also offer photographs that were not hand colored and even prints of images made with an iPhone!

I have been hinting at this for awhile, but I have been feeling a little squirrely that there is very little about my work these days that can be considered anything but a product of hours at my computer or staring at my phone. Of course this also requires training and skill and I have a lot respect for the masters in this field, but personally, I was finding it less than satisfying.

Which now brings me to what this post is really about............

I have been hearing a lot lately about photo transfers with color copies and have been experimenting with this technique on and off for the last couple of months. I started getting frustrated because none of the methods I was trying seemed to work. My stubbornness kicked in however, and I became determined to keep at it until something did.

Up until last week, I was not interested in any of the methods that said "let it dry 24 hours....". I did not want to wait that long! As most of you know, patience is NOT one of my virtues.

Well guess what? Waiting 24 hours seems to be the ticket!

My intention all along was to try to create something that was completely original, unique and a "one of a kind" piece of art, out of the images that were being made in that so totally awesome and amazing technological wonder called an iPhone. Two ends of the spectrum.................

I have also been reading about the concept of "Wabi-sabi". The Wikipedia definition refers to this as "a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection." In my mind, that doesn't happen a lot in Photoshopped images. (Actually, the "impermanence" aspect of wabi-sabi could be applied to digital images......crashed hard drive, no back up..........)

You will see now, just how "imperfect" these transfers are.

Transfer on watercolor paper

 I experimented doing them on paper and canvas...............

Transfer on canvas

Here is a little bit about the process:

One requirement for this method is you have to use color copies, not inkjet prints. You need a mirror image to place down, so after reversing them in Photoshop, I made prints and went to Kinkos. (I may just bring a flash drive next time.......)

The next step involves a "pouring medium". I chose this one by Liquitex.

Using a foam brush, coat your substrate (in my case paper or canvas), and the front of the print with the medium. 

Place the print face down on the substrate and smooth out the bubbles with a brayer or other object.

Let it dry for at least 24 hours.............ugh!

Using a spray bottle, wet the piece and carefully start rubbing the paper off. (This is actually the toughest and most time consuming part.........)

This image of the Golden Gate Bridge was transferred onto hot press water color paper.

As you can see, it is so not perfect, and that is part of the charm. I can transfer this same image over and over again and it will never turn out the same way twice!

This is still a work in progress, and as I learn more I will share what works and what doesn't. I am not sure if I will only apply this technique to iPhone images, but for now, it is this blending of extreme technology with of the idea of original art that has me so excited. (Ask the brave people that stepped inside my studio the morning I completed my first semi-successful transfer. I had to share it with someone and I was downright giddy!)

I plan to play around with adding pastels or even acrylic paint (if I am brave enough....) to these transfers.

There are a couple of other "experiments" I am working on that involve prints of my DSLR work as well as iPhone images.

I will end with a couple of my favorite closing lines......"the possibilities are endless" and "stay tuned"......................

PS....if any of you have experience with this or other transfer techniques and have hints or suggestions, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!


  1. I also fell in love with the imperfections of this technique. I learned it from Kathryn Mayo at Cosumnes River College. She also gives workshops on it now and then. I haven't played with this medium yet, I do love results with caulk. One of my favorite methods is inkjet transparencies w/ lacquer thinner. I'm trying to develop a workshop myself and I'll keep you posted on my experiments down this path.

    1. Thank you Charlene and please keep us posted!

  2. Dianne,
    What fun and beautiful results! We used to do something close to this with with color prints, and RC black and white, soaking print in water overnight, rub off all the paper very very carefully , then fix it to various items and papers........ Enjoy

    1. Thanks for your comment Sara!! It's all so much fun!

  3. i love it. and the imperfections are my favorite part.
    i too have been experimenting but with printing on tissue paper, then decoupaging it to canvas board. i just found the perfect tracing paper that is close to the texture of tissue paper and that simplified the process. now, after i have shot an image and added another layer of art thru technology/digital enhancements, i can put my hands on it to make the finished piece totally unique. like you, it felt important to make each version an original. and i love the results. it's not as advanced as your technique (like kindergarten compared to college lol!) but the end result is pleasing me right now :)
    you inspire me and i appreciate all that you share. thank you!

    1. Thank you Marie! That sounds like a lot of fun. I am also playing around with gel medium and images made on thin Unryu paper. That will probably be the next thing I talk about. I recently bought some ModPodge too! First time since the 70's! Have fun and keep me posted!

  4. Hi Dianne. As always, your work is beautiful. You're so wonderful about sharing. I'm trying to think of what I know about transfers. I've done this method with xerox copies and Golden medium and also transferred to medium from Apollo transparencies. I've done Polaroid transfers but I don't know if any of the new films work as well. Sheer Heaven is wonderful for transferring to absorbent papers using alcohol. I also have some TAP paper that others have success with. I've never tried mine and it may be too old to work now. I don't want to use anything toxic. That's all that I can think of at the moment. I always look forward to your posts.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Jeanne! I did Polaroid Transfers years ago, but like you, have no idea if the new films work. It can get expensive though.

      I have heard about Sheer Heaven and will look more into that.

      Thanks again!

  5. Hi Dianne!
    You really might enjoy Lesley Riley's TAP Artist Transfer paper. I love it!

    Love what you are doing !

    1. Thank you Marie! I am going to check that out!

  6. Hi Dianne,
    First of all, I agree with your friend...your work is definitely artwork, not crafting. After going digital, I also struggled with myself regarding the use of a computer to enhance my photos instead of hand-painting or darkroom effects. I believe that digital know-how is an art form in itself. There is so much to learn, and it can be especially challenging for a right-brained person! Your work is amazing either way.
    Thanks for sharing the transfer method...I'm going to give it a try!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment Jane! You are right - to be able to successfully transform an image in the computer is most certainly an art form. But there is something about hands on creating that can't be beat! Please let me know if you have success with this transfer method.

  7. Hi Dianne,

    Coincidence again! I am currently working with transfer medium images, I am also utilizing ZIG Photo Twins 'Flexible ColorTwin Markers'. I have used them for years in my standard photo applications, but now am using them to fill little places left too bare from holes in the emulsion. Since they are like water paints, the intensity is just what you want in making either light or dark repairs. But then, I do like the randomness of the cracks and and missing corners. A bone folder is good for getting air bubbles out too.
    Your work is always super,

    Regards, Fay

    1. Love the coincidence Fay! Thanks for your tips and information and as always, I appreciate your comments!

  8. Dianne,

    I just want to let you know how much I love your blog and all the great pictures of your work and your "experimenting" (such as today's blog post). While I am not a photogragher, I am an artist and seeing you stick with some of your projects that are harder for you, and just seeing all you are doing is inspiring and makes me get off the computer and go do my thing. Thank you Dianne! I can't wait to see more!

    1. Thank you Danielle for your comment and stopping by my blog! I deeply appreciate it!

  9. Hi Dianne-just read your article in ARTFUL BLOGGING. Congrats on bring featured. Infe like I'm so behind in the times in all the beautiful things that can be done with photos. I adore my iPhone and I'm glad to be a part of this culture. I love what you've done with this photo and thank u for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Kelly! Always appreciate it!