Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Printmaking Process: Is Polaroid Transfer A Lost Art?

As long as there is Fujifilm, the Polaroid transfer image process is not dead, just renamed -- Polaroid / Fuji transfer or Fujiroid(?) transfer. Since Polaroid is no longer making peel-apart film, people have turned to Fujifilm.

There are two types of transfer processes using peel-apart film: image transfer using the film back (the part you would throw away) and emulsion lift (lifting off the entire developed-image along with the chemicals from the paper).

I had an opportunity to do a Polaroid / Fujifilm workshop at Ed Hinkley's Studio, where I also take a watercolor class. We used both Polaroid and Fujifilm so people could see the differences in the techniques and the results. Using the Daylab and Daylab Copier, the Polaroid transfer compared to the Fujifilm has more subtle tones, whereas the Fujifilm has brighter hues. As for the emulsion lifts, the Polaroid lift is more ephemeral, whereas the Fujifilm looks and handles more like a decal. One film is not necessarily better than the other, just different. Note that each transfer or lift, with its own individual marks, is distinct and cannot be duplicated.

Polaroid Transfer of Sailboat.
Slide image copied to Polaroid film using Daylab.

Polaroid Emulsion Lift of Sailboat.
Slide image copied to Polaroid film using Daylab.

Fuji Transfer of Objects on Daylab Copier

Fuji Emulsion Lift of Objects on Daylab Copier

Ed and student Marie-Pier.
Fujifilm in Polaroid Camera

Fujifilm Transfer of Ed and student
Marie-Pier. Fujifilm in Polaroid Camera.

The Transfer Process

We used the transfer process described on the Fujifilm website, which involves pulling apart the film in a "dark box" so that the film is not exposed in the light. Once the film is pulled apart, you press the chemical backing (not the positive image) to paper.

Objects put on the glass of the Daylab Copier

Sample image of objects copied to Fujifilm
in Daylab Copier

Marie-Pier removed the Fujifilm backing,
clipped on paper, from the dark box and
is now squeegeeing the image on paper.

Marie-Pier rubbing Vaseline on the surface

Finished Fujifilm transfer

The Emulsion Lift

The emulsion lift process involves soaking the Polaroid or Fujifilm developed-image in hot water, lifting off the image along with the chemicals from the paper backing, and putting the image on paper.

Put the Fujifilm developed-image in hot water
and peel off the image from the paper backing.

Put the emulsion lift in cold water.

Put matte medium on the paper as a glue.

Transfer the emulsion lift to the paper
and add more matte medium on the surface.

Marie-Pier's original digital photo of Moroccan rugs,
on the left, and the Fuji emulsion lift on the right.

Photo credit: All photos by Amy A. Rudberg unless otherwise indicated.


ajviola said...

Thanks for posting this, Amy! I'm a big fan of Polaroid transfers & have my own Daylab. I'll send you a link to some images soon!

Robin said...

Great post! I have just been playing around with my new Day Lab pro (after a long hiatus with formerly using Vivtar 35mm slide printer and Polaroid). I must admit I'm glad to see that you also got some of those striated scratch-like marks. I was starting to fear I was doing something wrong. It's been fun but a challenge to get used to Fuji.

Carol said...

Your Fuji Transfer is amazing! I have a Polaroid 220 loaded with Fuji film and have already captured an image, but I have not pulled it out of the camera yet. I want it to be as amazing as yours. So do I need to this in complete darkness? On wet or dry paper? Is the Vaseline neccessary? Thank you for posting your work, I hope to do as well!

Amy A. Rudberg said...

Carol, if you don't do it in darkness, you won't get an image. You can do it either on dry or wet paper and see what you get. You can try it without the Vaseline and see how it turns out.