Thanks to a lovely reader, Missy from Chateau Chic Boutique, who left a comment on my tea towel entry, I learned about Citra Solv. It's an all-natural degreaser that has the magical powers of transferring toner ink onto surfaces. I will eventually try out every kind of toner and printer to see what exactly works and what doesn't, but in a few short minutes, I had major success. Certainly more success than I could ever DREAM of having with that bloody screen printer.
Here's the how to. Order some Citra Solv....apparently it is available at most Whole Foods, but we don't have Whole Foods. I ordered mine from the Lucky Vitamin due to the fact it ships from Pennsylvania and I would have it in just a few days. They also had a great price on 32oz....MUCH cheaper than ink, emulsion, screens, etc. The supply list for this project is beyond simple:
-Laser Jet Printed Image
-Something to Print On
-Smooth Work Surface (I'll explain more about the "smooth" part in a bit)
-A well ventilated area!!
I printed out a couple of test images on different printers. The printer that worked was a HP LaserJet. I'm not quite sure why that one worked and others didn't, but I plan to head back to Kinkos with a little bit of Citra Solv so I can test out the different machines. Don't forget to reverse your image when printing as this transfer method works when the ink is pressed to the fabric.
This is TEST fabric. Don't go wasting your preferred surface on practicing and you will need to practice. Alright, flip the images so the ink is face down on the fabric and tape into place. You're going to be pressing the image and rubbing it, so you want to make sure it won't shift. Shifty paper = blurry image.
One source told me to put some of the Citra Solv into a smaller cup and then dip in your cotton pad....I feel this used way too much solution. And since I can't just run out and get more, I want to conserve. Instead, I just placed the cotton pad over the top of the bottle and gently tipped so the cotton pad was wet, but not dripping. Then just rub the Citra Solv over the image....it's kind of the coolest thing ever and leaves your paper transparent so you can see what parts you've hit and what parts you haven't.
Alright, so that's not enough to make the ink go onto the fabric. This is where your spoon comes in. Using the backside, rub rub rub all over the image and do not miss a spot. I found that doing the outline first was a good method, then you can go back over the "inners". Just make sure you get the whole thing....what ever you don't rub, won't transfer. The first few times you do this, carefully peek without shifting the image to ensure that you've got every bit. With a more detailed image, this will be harder. I recommend practicing with something less detailed just to get down your technique.
This, is why you need a SMOOTH surface, although experimenting with different textures underneath the image is totally cool. Here, I used a pizza box....and then quickly tried again just on the table. The coolest thing is that there's very little mess. And the Citra Solv is a cleaner, so no biggie if it gets everywhere. Just don't get it in your eyes. Or your mouth. I think if the Citra Solv leaks through the paper onto your surface, you're using too much...and I would imagine it would make the image run. Ahhh...that's better.
So. Cool. For extra measure, I ironed the image to "seal" it. Oh, my little brain is racing with the possibilities. But for now, I'm focused on making BamaHandmAIDE totes....100% of the proceeds from these guys are going directly to the United Way of West Alabama to help with their tornado relief efforts. So hooray! I just love the way it turned out. If you want one, visit the etsy shop!