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Our Top 5 Recommended Books about Image Transferring and Alternative Printing Processes

Photo of Books on a blurred background with Mark Twain figure

Finding literature that is helpful and inspiring to artists wishing to pursue alternative digital printmaking is important. The perfect art guide book is one that not only teaches you the ropes but gives you the knowledge base needed to excel in any given subject matter. Even more important is having the ability to go off on your own and experiment by combining your own previous knowledge with that of which you have just learned. In this article, we will share with you our top 5 recommended image transfer books. We have ranked them from 5 to 1 with 1 being the most recommended.

5. Jill Enfield’s Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes: Popular Historical and Contemporary Techniques (Alternative Process Photography) 2nd Edition

We recommend this book because it walks you through traditional image-making methods while introducing modern techniques in printmaking. Some older techniques can be swapped out for newer techniques using computer software and this book does a fantastic job of showing this. Learn how to combine digital manipulation techniques with traditional photographic processes to create work that pushes the boundaries of image-making.

4. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 3rd Edition

This book is on our recommended list because we feel that having a strong foundation in traditional image-making will help inform you when you are creating works with newer techniques made possible by recent improvements in technology. In the modern era, it can be quite refreshing to find yourself in a dark room and mixing materials in ways of the past. Combining these methods with modern ones can be powerful as there is so much room for exploration.

3. The Last Layer: New methods in digital printing for photography, fine art, and mixed media (Voices That Matter)

This is one of the books written by Bonny Pierce Lhotka who is a pioneer in the image transfer and alternative print community. This book is a great reference that includes details on new methods in alternative printing techniques. This is one of three books by Bonny which are all recommended by us!

2. Digital Alchemy: Printmaking Techniques for Fine Art, Photography, and Mixed Media by Bonny Pierce Lhotka

Digital Alchemy is another book by Bonny Pierce Lhotka and is perfect for someone just getting started in alternative printing techniques. She goes through step by step, explaining safety, materials, and methods. Be prepared to get supplies and really start experimenting with the multiple methods available. This is a great read and will be sure to inspire you with the examples provided within this book. You can really tell Bonny is an expert and you will feel as though you have a mentor right beside you to help!

1. Hacking the Digital Print: Alternative image capture and printmaking processes with a special section on 3D printing (Voices That Matter)

Hacking the Digital Print is for those of us who read Digital Alchemy and just couldn’t get enough! Bonny goes into further detail in this book as she shows you have to make your own tools to create your images. Going way beyond our imaginations, she introduces 3D printing techniques as well. This is truly an inspiring read that you must have. This book will surely get the gears turning in your head as you think of all of the possibilities these techniques will bring to your work. Be ready to experiment. Even Bonny herself says “Don’t bother reading this book unless you’re ready to get your hands dirty.”

We hope this article has helped you find the next excellent read on alternative print techniques. We know that all of the information found in these books is so valuable and will keep you preoccupied for weeks, months and maybe even years. These books aren’t something you read once and put on a shelf. They are a tool that you can revisit from time to time when you need to brush up on a technique or research ways to complete your next creative project.

Do you know of any other amazing books that we didn’t talk about? We want to hear about them! Comment below to let us know about these or what you think of the books we included in our list!

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How to make the Perfect Super Sauce Mixture for Image Transfers

Materials Needed:

Super Sauce is a medium used in transferring inkjet prints onto alternative surfaces like wood, metal, plexiglass, etc. The super sauce mixture is made of super sauce concentrate and 91% Isopropyl Alcohol. Super Sauce is sold by DASS Art and is available in two finishes. The choices are matte or gloss finish. We recommend a gloss finish for more non-porous reflective surfaces like plastic, glass, and plexiglass. For porous surfaces like paper, wood, etc, you will want to use the super sauce concentrate with a matte finish.

Before we get into the mixing, you should consider safety precautions. The smell of isopropyl alcohol is quite strong so it is a good idea to wear a face mask. Next, you will want to consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes. You will not want to get super sauce in your eyes as it is not something you ever want to have contact with water. If a super sauce mixture (including the alcohol) makes contact with water, it will turn into a thick foam that can not be put down a drain. This can make washing anything out of your eyes quite difficult. 

Creating the mixture is dependent on having the right measurement for your ingredients. For every 1 TBS of super sauce concentrate, you will need 4 oz of 91% isopropyl alcohol. You must use 91% isopropyl alcohol. Any other grade simply will not work. Taking the above measurements, mix the two slowly. Once you have the contents in the mason jar, you will want to secure the lid fully so that you can begin to mix the contents.

 You will want to let the jar sit for at least 6 hours, periodically shaking the jar vigorously during that time. Again, please note that you should never add any water to this mixture or your brushes. It can cause severe damage to plumbing and will render your brushes unusable. Once the 6 hours have passed, and you have a consistent mixture, you will be ready to start transferring your images!

Once you begin to use the super sauce mixture, you will want to keep the brush you use inside of the jar with the mixture when it is not in use. The brush you use will not be able to be used for anything else after this. We recommend that you use this brush until it is no longer usable and at which point, you will need to throw it out. Once again, we remind you not to put this brush anywhere near any sinks or plumbing.

Storing the mixture with the brush is where having the mason jar with the lid and outer band comes into great use. You will want to remove the lid permanently. When you are not using the super sauce, put the brush inside the jar and wrap a plastic bag somewhat loosely around the brush and jar. Then, take the outer band and screw it tightly onto the mason jar. This will keep the seal airtight without the brush poking through and letting air in. You can see our example in the image at the beginning of this article.

We have quite a few super sauce tutorials based on different applications. We encourage you to experiment with this method on multiple surfaces to get an idea of its capabilities.

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Finding the Perfect Substrate

Image of wood panel and canvas sheet

Everything you need to know to make long-lasting works of art!

When it comes to finding an acid free surface there are 4 different categories to consider:

  1. Acid-Free: Acid-Free materials are going to be top of the line, gallery-ready materials. When making fine art, you will always want to look for these materials first. These can be quite expensive, so selecting the cheaper non-acid fee surfaces will be tempting. In this situation, remember that you get what you pay for. If you are making work intended to be sold at a gallery or to a collector, you will want to be sure you are using the best materials. 
  2. Acid Neutral: While these are still good quality, they contain acid and buffers to fight against it. For this reason, these kinds of papers are great for testing prints but not necessarily selling in a gallery. Acid Neutral paper is quite a bit less expensive so we recommend this for test prints. 
  3. Not stated: In some cases, the material won’t state whether it is acid-free or not. In this case, you can assume it is not acid-free. You can still use these but it is not good practice to submit to galleries or sell to collectors. 
  4. Specialty Surfaces: Sometimes, you will come across a material that is not guaranteed to be acid-free in any form. In this case, there are tools you can use to test the PH level of the material. These surfaces can be differentiated from Category 3 because there might be a reason you might need to use these materials. For example, you may want to transfer your image to an aluminum substrate. This is an aesthetic that can not be created using paper. While the acidic qualities are a bit unknown, it doesn’t mean that the metal will deteriorate quickly.

Archival Substrate Examples:
Acid-Free Watercolor Paper
Stretched Canvas with Archival Quality Gesso

Do you have the perfect substrate picked out? To use any of the tutorials available on our site, your images must be printed onto DASS Transfer Film using an Inkjet Printer. Through our company, Kirkpatrick & Co. Specialty Printing, we can print your images to this film for you. Order your print today

We are here to answer any questions you have along the way. Follow us on Instagram to see what others in our community are making and join in on the conversation!