Monday, June 15, 2009

Inkjet Transfer Experiment #2 - Using an Epson Workforce 500 printer

And now I’m finally posting the results of the same inkjet transfers experiment I did before, only I used my Epson Workforce 500 inkjet printer instead of the HP PSC 1350 inkjet printer. :D The difference in the printers is that the Epson uses Durabrite inks, which are pigment-based inks, while the HP uses dye-based inks. If you compare the results of both experiments, you can see that using the Durabrite inks makes all the difference.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the mediums, papers or printers I used, because I already did so in my 1st inkjet experiment post (linked above). Please refer to it if you’d like to know more; there’s some good information there. If you’d like to know more about image transfers in general, I have posted several links to tutorials and information in this post.

On with the experiment!

The Papers:

The important thing to know is that both the Jet Print and HP Matte photo papers have a clay coating on them that is said to aid in transferring ink into various mediums.

The Transfer Products:

The Technique:

I used the same technique for all four mediums. I just brushed on a layer of each medium, let it dry, and then did it again. I did this for a total of three layers. These have been drying for about 8 months now (:D), but of course, you don’t need to wait that long. Just let each layer dry thoroughly (an hour or so, depending on humidity) before adding a new coat, and then let the transfer sit overnight after the final coat. This is specifically for making these “skin” type transfers, and different drying times are recommended when you’re doing a direct inkjet transfer.

Once your medium is completely dry, you just soak the back of the paper with water, and peel and rub it off. I ran my transfers under running water in the kitchen sink, to help facilitate the paper coming off (just make sure a strainer is in the drain to catch the bits of paper. That's an expensive plumbing bill waiting to happen otherwise). When the paper is removed, just set your transfer aside to dry. Once it’s dry, it’s ready to be used in whatever way your imagination comes up with!

The great thing about these skin transfers is that they'll keep for years (see my June 14th post for an example). So if you have an image that you really want to use over and over again, you can make up a sheet of transfers, do all the work at once, and have some waiting for your next project. That's a great way to save on transfer papers, as well.

The Results:

Here are the scans of each transfer. The images on the Left started out on the Plain Copy Paper, the images in the Middle on the HP Everyday Matte Photo Paper and the images on the Right started out on the JetPrint Imaging & Photo Paper.

Click on each image, to see larger, clearer versions.

Wherever you see a white cast, that’s where I couldn’t get the paper all the way off of the transfer. It's the white fuzz left behind.

Here's the original image:

Golden's Regular Gel - Matte:

Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish:

Elmer's Squeeze 'N Caulk-Clear:

Omni Gel:


Wow, Wow, WOW! The folks at the Inkjet Transfers Yahoo group weren’t kidding. The Epson Durabrite inks are superior in every way when it comes to inkjet transfers. I was able to run these transfers under the sink to get the paper off without losing the whole transfer, which has happened to me with my HP printer. The ink *did* run from the plain copy paper transfers, but not from the JetPrint or HP papers.

I was surprised to see how poorly the plain copy paper did. I’ve been using it for inkjet transfers in my art journal, and just assumed the ink would always run, no matter what paper I used. Not true, as you can see. No ink ran off from the transfers I did on the JetPrint and HP papers, when I was rubbing and rinsing the paper off.

I also didn’t realize just how much paper was being left behind on plain copy paper, until I did this experiment. In my art journal, I usually end up slapping some kind of medium over the whole page anyway, so the paper fuzz “disappears” somewhat. Now I know that I can have much clearer, more vibrant transfers by using either the JetPrint or HP Matte photo papers.

I was also surprised to see that the HP Everyday Photo Matte paper did slightly better than the JetPrint Imaging & Photo paper. It’s not a huge difference, as you can see, but the colors are slightly darker and the paper seemed to come off more thoroughly.

And to my complete surprise, with the Epson Durabrite inks, it doesn’t seem to matter which medium I used. They all turned out pretty much the same across the board. With my old HP PSC 1350, I had to use Golden's Gel Medium with the JetPrint paper to get a good inkjet transfer. So that was a nice surprise, to see that they all work.

My only caveat would be that if you're going to use Elmer’s Squeeze n’ Caulk, you need to know that the transfer is super-super sticky, and remains that way, even 8 months later. You would need to glue it sticky-side down, and handle the transfer carefully, so it doesn’t stick to itself. It won't unstick from itself without ripping the transfer. I had purchased the caulk based on a recommendation by Claudine Hellmuth in her book Collage Discovery Workshop, so wanted to test it, but after these experiments, I can't really recommend it. While it's cheaper at $5/8 oz. bottle, the other mediums are just easier to work with.

So, my conclusions, based on this experiment and the one I ran with the HP PSC 1350, is that it’s worth it to use an Epson printer that uses Durabrite inks, if you’re into inkjet transfers (but only with Durabrite inks. Other Epson inks won’t work as well, from what I understand). Not only will you have a clearer transfer that won’t run when you use a water-based medium, the Durabrite inks are resistant to fading from UV light. While printers are a pretty expensive art supply to go a' gettin', the Epson Stylus 88+ runs about $80-$90, and gets rave reviews from the Inkjet Transfer Yahoo group. Epson's All-in-One printers are pretty reasonable as well. The ink is more expensive, but it does last a good while, I've found.

I can also now heartily recommend HP’s Everyday Matte Photo Paper when using the Epson Durabrite inks, which is great, because it’s still in production. You can find it on for $10/100 sheets.

And as far as mediums go, with the Epson Durabrite inks, use whichever medium you’re going to use the most in your other art projects. It’s always great when a product is multi-purpose. :D I'm usually not a big fan of glossy, but I really like how clear the Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish's transfer came out, and will probably be using that more frequently than the Golden's Regular Matte Gel in the future.

For my next post, I’m going to show you what happened when I tried out Transfer Goop on the JetPrint Imaging & Photo Paper and the HP Everyday Matte Photo paper.


Zura said...

oh great! Now I want a new printer! lol This is GREAT. Thanks so much for posting it!

DellaLuna said...

I know, right? It took me three years to buy the Epson, after reading about Durabrite inks. I was hell-bent that there must be a way to get my HP to do inkjet transfers well. And I got some good ones out of my HP, but seriously, no where near the Epson's. I had no, NO idea until I did this experiment, and saw it first hand.

And you're welcome! Especially about adding one more art supply to your list *mwahahaha*

Julie said...

I'm a lurker on the Yahoo group too. These posts are fantastic and a very thorough research into these printers and mediums. We have a Canon at home but I am very tempted to buy an Epson for printing both transfers andon fabric. Thank you for your detailed posts.

DellaLuna said...

You're so welcome, Julie! I'm glad it helps. Yeah, I had a Canon for awhile there, and ever since I read about the Epson Durabrite inks on the Inkjet Transfers group, I've been wanting to get one. And like I said, those folks weren't kidding...they just work better, as far as inkjet transfers go, since your ink won't wash away.

Just FYI, the ink is a bit more expensive ($13-$17 per cartridge), and for my printer, there are no ink refills for it. Epson made the cartridges via a new process that makes it impossible for ink resellers to refill them. So, you have to get Epson ink. I'm good with that, because I don't want a different ink to mess up the printer, but it really upset a lot of people (per Amazon reviews), and it's something people should know.

But that's my new printer...other Epson printers aren't quite as expensive, and they do take ink refills. You just can't guarantee any inkjet transfer results with refilled ink.

DellaLuna said...

Ryan, while I appreciated your comment, my blog is not here so other people can advertise. I deleted your comment, because of the link you included.

Ruby said...

thank you so much for the effort you put into this. I have tried so many things and not getting a good result, I have a canon, not great but now have got my transfers to work. Will now get an Epson! I am inspired again.

DellaLuna said...

I'm so glad that you're getting them to work though! That's the tricky part - they're so cool once they work, but it's hard to master the techniques sometimes. I'm still working on getting the transparency transfers to work. So, congratulations, and I'm glad you're inspired.

I feel like I'm one big ad for Epson Durabrite inks, lol, but, well, they just work. Hehe, doing my part to stimulate the economy. :D

paula timm said...

thanks for your thorough research! I have recently purchased an Epson Artisan 837. In the past I had used my HP inkjet with low quality paper and Liquitex Gloss Varnish. My first Epson ink trial I used with 'bright' paper - not good results. Must be the BRIGHT factor...I will try a matte paper to see if the results are better.

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely be using this process with transferring my nature photo converted to kaleidescopes using then print to the hp photo paper you recommend - along with the gloss medium - then transferring to home made 'dough' using this recipe - - first making the dough, letting air dry, then printing and transferring to the hardened dough pieces which will be used to make jewelry such as pendants, buttons, multiple piece pendants, pieces for ear rings and ear cuffs, etc... I love integrating my love of nature photography to prints to jewelry (smile) my own site is no "hard sales" just to share (smile)