Polymer Clay Photo Transfer
After trial, error, and research I have created my own method for using TLS (translucent liquid sculpey) to transfer a photo to clay.
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* Don't shake the bottle of liquid clay. I didn't, but I read that doing so can create air bubbles. Bubbles = BAD.
* Use a thin layer of liquid clay. Let it rest after spreading, after baking and any other time you think the clay might need it. 10 minutes might be a good resting time. I don't think it would hurt if you let it rest longer.
* Bake the liquid clay. Yes, a heat gun could work, but I had better results with the oven. It requires a higher baking temp, which seems to give a brighter color transfer. Let it rest.
Print your image onto photo paper. I picked a black and white image, so that I could color part of it. I used a pink marker to color her hair.
I've been told that not all photo paper works well with this technique. I used glossy photo paper I found at the dollar store. I also used an ink-jet printer. I don't know that a laser printer will give the same results.
Paint a thin coat of liquid clay onto your image. Make sure you add about a 1/4" all around the image. If your image is 2" x 3", you want to make sure you cover an area that is about 2.5" x 3.5"
Let it rest. I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I cannot stress this enough. Letting your liquid clay rest will help to eliminate air bubbles. Oven bake the transfer according to the product directions. The first time around, I didn't paint a thin layer and I used a heat gun. And I didn't let it rest. The result was a bubbled, opaque image.
After the transfer is baked, let it rest. Paint another thin layer. Let it rest. Oven bake it again. Let it rest.
Now that everything has had a rest (hopefully you've included yourself, too!), it's time to bring it all together.
Once the liquid clay has been baked, it can now be cut with scissors. Cut your image to the size of the tin. I lightly scored the top of the tin before adding a thin layer of liquid clay. I also applied a thin layer to the bottom of the transfer. Yes, let it rest.
Slapping the transfer on the tin is not going to yield good results. It's going to produce bubbles. Starting with one end of the transfer, gently "roll" it onto the tin. Be careful that the transfer doesn't move too much. It wants to do that. Use an old spoon to burnish out any bubbles. Depending on the photo you are transferring, you might be able to see any bubbles that may have formed through the image.
Once I was satisfied that there were no trapped bubbles, I oven baked it all again. I had one edge that wanted to raise up and not be flush with the rest of the tin. I baked it upside down, checking that it wasn't burning about every 5 minutes. However, since regular clay requires a lower baking temp than the liquid clay I baked it at around 250 degrees. I also baked it for about 20 minutes.
Don't forget any extra embellishments you might want to add to your tin to add pizzazz to your photo transfer.