Eventually, if you carry on reading this blog for any length of time, you will realise that I am an experimenter. I really like experimenting with my images, and images of myself in particular (after I’ve experimented with changing the way I look with wigs, clothes and make up, obviously).

I’ve had an idea to explore fragility for a while now. I began using Polaroid emulsion lifts – if you’ve tried making them, you’ll understand the delicate nature of the emulsion during the process, and how tricky they can be to achieve.

I then switched to the idea of using image transfers when I finally bought a colour laser printer. It’s probably my relative inexperience with the image transfer process, and the fact that I try it on many different surfaces, but image transfers are also fragile in the making.

SRS_Tube (1 of 1)-2
Flowers pressed into clay, used as a mould for plaster, and painted

I wanted to transfer images to a fragile material, and I thought back to a painted plaster plaque I’d created several years ago that after a month or so began to peel, flake and crumble away. Perhaps I’d mixed the plaster poorly. But either way, I think that if I could transfer an image to material like that it would be ideal for what I have in mind.

This is where I’ve got to so far:


And this is how:

  • Mix plaster using 2 parts Plaster of Paris to 1 part water or according to instructions and let it set in the mold (I used old takeaway containers). Be sensible about this: wear gloves, wipe up plaster spills immediately and don’t breath it in! In terms of weight, I used 300g plaster and 150ml of cold water.
  • Let that set for about 3 hours; it doesn’t fully set for some time after that, but it’s usable when it’s set solid and cooled down.
  • Print your laser images, remembering to reverse them if you are using text or need them to appear exactly as they do on screen. I had Hebrew text on one and so I reversed it. With the image of myself I didn’t bother.
  • Cut the image to size.
  • Coat the plaster with acrylic medium; you can use gloss or matt. The plaster soaks it up, so I gave it a couple of coats and allowed it to soak in, and then a coat for the transfer process. As the plaster is so porous, I also coated the laser image with acrylic medium.
  • Stick the image face down onto the plaster and rub firmly to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • Let it dry. I gave it an hour or so.
  • Gently rub the paper from the plaster in circular motions, damping your fingertips if you need to. This removes the paper layer. Hopefully you will be left with a mainly intact image transfer by the end!

I don’t know how these plaster plaques will survive long term, but for my purpose they’re not designed to last. I wonder if the porosity of the plaster will eventually have an effect on the surface, because I don’t think the surface was fully sealed and I haven’t sealed it after the transfer process. However, the degradation of the image is what I am interested in and so I will probably mix up a softer plaster in an attempt to get the surface to flake or break up quickly.

All this speaks not only to the reliance we put on photography as a memory tool, but also  to the idea that the any physical form decays and ends. I’m now at a time in life where I am having to fight to stay in shape and to keep signs of ageing at bay. Images, be they digital, physical, or mental just don’t last forever.

The plaster transfer here is probably too thick so I will make the next batch thinner


2 comments on “Image Transfers onto Plaster

  1. Pingback: Photography: What Happened to the Plaster Image Transfers? – The Epic Compendium of My Days

  2. Pingback: Ageing Photos on Plaster – The Epic Compendium

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