A little back story: As you may not know, I almost solely use a xylene blender pen for my transfers. I originally started with acetone, and I've experimented with an iron, but the xylene has consistently won out in the ease of use category, as well as best transfer. (I've also seen wintergreen demonstrated by the wonderfully talented Fiddleheads, but fled the room as the smell hit me... I even feel sick sometimes if I don't air found letterboxes that were done this way...)
Anyways, when I first started experimenting with transfers and finding out what worked for me, I lived near a little convenience store that had this old (read: ancient) photocopier that I think was run by hamsters. It actually chugged and spewed out smoke when you hit "copy". It gave beautiful transfers, no matter the method.
And no printers would work. I spent a number of hours one day driving from library, to corner store, to copy centre - on and on, zigzagging through town with a hunk of pink stuff and my blender pen, tossing nickles and dimes wherever I went. And nowhere did I find a printer that would work. As a result, I've come to an unscientific conclusion that one's carving ability is directly proportional to one's transfer abilities.
I've moved again, and I tried my new work's printer - and was actually taken aback when... It worked! It wasn't perfect, but it gave a nice clear transfer for me to carve my new signature stamp:
And then, today (after sudden inspiration for a new letterbox that needs to be planted) I tried a printer that is really close to my new home, and PRESTO! a flawless transfer. It's gorgeous. I love it. I don't even want to mar it by starting to carve it. So I will share it with you, dear reader... [Spoiler alert: this will definitely be planted, so be warned and take appropriate steps if you're sensitive.]
It's beautiful, isn't it. I have an urge to frame it and stick it on the wall.
For your reference, here is my process for this flawless transfer:
- Find a suitable image and print on an HP P1102 laser printer
- Take acetone and thoroughly rub down a new piece of Webfoot's NZ Cut
- Cut out image, and tape it image down on the acetone-scrubbed NZ Cut
- Within 10 minutes of printing, take your Chartpak Blender Marker and with firm pressure quickly scrub back and forth so that the image appears to bleed through so you can easily see it, from one side to the other and back again (two full passes).
- Immediately take a burnisher/bone-folder and continue scrubbing back and forth across the whole image until all of the xylene has evaporated and you can't see the image any more.
- Untape and remove the image.
- Stand back and admire.
Postscript: My very first transfer involved me pulling an image up on my laptop's computer screen, putting a paper over top of it, then tracing the image with a pencil. True story.