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Due to the Corona virus, the Surface Design workshop has been postponed until this summer. The new date for it will be announced when the Art House re-opens.


I'll be teaching this one-day workshop on March 14, 2020 at the Art House! Learn to design your own unique papers and other materials for collage, card making, scrap booking, journal making etc. I supply all the materials. All you need to bring is a sack lunch and a beverage. Hours are 10-4; fee is $90 per person. Register online at or call 678-543-5777. Act now! Seating is limited!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Using Gel Transfers to Create Linework

Sometimes we just don't have enough time to create highly detailed line work for a mixed media piece, but we know that's exactly what it needs. Right now I'm working on a large mixed media project consisting of four 12x36 inch panels. It was just begging for an image of stark winter trees, but for me to draw those trees with their intricate, tangled network of branches and limbs by hand would take me an awfully long time. Maybe forever. So what's a girl to do?

It would take hours to draw all these limbs and branches by hand. So I used a gel transfer instead.   ©Lynn Edwards
The Idea Fairy dropped by as I was contemplating this dilemma and whispered, "Use a gel transfer!"
What a great idea! I grabbed my digital camera and my trusty jar of soft gel and went to work.

The above photo is one of several shots I took of trees at the edge of our woods. Using Photoshop Elements I changed them from color to black and white and increased the contrast so their details would be preserved. Then I printed them out on ordinary 20# white copier paper. After trimming away the excess paper with a scissors I applied a layer of soft gel gloss medium to each one with a wide, soft bristle nylon brush.

The trick to making gel transfers is allowing each gel layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next layer. I like to apply at least four layers, minimum, so this often entails allowing each layer to dry overnight or for several hours at a time. It may take some time, but I find this transfer process is much easier and faster than trying to render all those limbs and branches in ink!

Once the final layer of gel dries, I apply water to the back side of the paper with a sponge and gently rub the paper fibers off using my fingers. It usually takes several applications of water and determined rubbing to get all the paper off, but eventually you'll end up with a clear sheet of flexible acrylic with the photographic image embedded in it. The white areas will have disappeared, becoming totally clear, and all that will be left are the dark parts of the image. The sheet can be cut into pieces or left intact. (Smaller pieces are easier to handle.)

The gel transfer can then be adhered to the canvas or panel with more gel medium. Or, you can sandwich it between pieces of wax paper to store it for future use. One word of caution: don't put the paper rubbings down the drain. Dispose of them in the trash instead.

Image and text ©2016 Lynn Edwards

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