Mar 22, 2009

Polymer Clay Inkjet Transfers that work

In the Fall 2003 issue of PolymerCAFE I demonstrated using Flecto Varathane as a transfer medium for inkjet images on polymer clay. Back then it was said that T-Shirt Transfer paper was the only way of doing transfers from an inkjet. Behind the scenes this wasn't true. Actually it was two of my friends that clued me in to the idea to try something different. During a workshop retreat that Gera Scott Chandler hosted in 2002, she had been using and demonstrating Acrylic Medium with good results and Cheryl Trottier introduced the coated paper method which used no medium, but involved burnishing onto clay and letting the plasticizer of the clay do the work.

T-Shirt Transfer paper is very expensive and I wanted to find a different way. After this, other techniques using TLS, Fimo Gel and Kato Liquid Polyclay became popular choices for inkjet transfers, but also using the same coated paper I had described. I have no idea why Flecto Varathane didn't become just as popular because it actually makes nice 'matte' transfers and has dual purpose in claying as well. I've heard recent rumors that coated paper maybe more difficult to find now, but I just googled "Staples Office Supply" and they still carry it, although it is 'heavyweight' or 45 lb stock rather than 27lb. I'll be purchasing some next week on my trip out of town and report on it.


  • 1 small block White Premo (Premo seems to work best)

  • Tissue blade

  • Tile or other suitable worksurface

  • cardstock

  • Flecto Varathane Diamond Wood Finish - Interior (Waterbased)

  • Alcohol (Gin, Vodka, Rubbing alcohol)

  • Epson High Quality, Photo quality (matte) for Inkjet printers (look for the word “coated” on the packaging). #384737 approx. $17.96/50 (CDN)

  • Pasta Roller Machine

  • Inkjet images

Step 1: Select images and print onto the Epson paper. I saturate the ink setting to make the colours brighter and bolder as the transfer will look a bit duller. Make sure you print on the smooth coated side, which looks whiter and feels smoother. Cut our your images and don't leave a border.

Step 2: Roll out the white Premo clay to a #3 setting on your pasta machine. Lay the clay sheet onto cardstock paper. Place images face down onto clay and cut around image. Gently remove images from clay.

Step 3: Working on one image at a time, bush Flecto onto the raw clay. Lay image face down onto the clay and burnish lightly. Be careful that paper doesn’t slide around as it sticks right away.

Once it sticks do not lift paper off the clay as colour may transfer at this point. Repeat with all images. (Photo 1)

Step 4: Using a clean brush, dip into alcohol and saturate image by blotting it. Lightly press and burnish with finger, gently wiping, but being careful not to poke hard into the clay with the brush as to dimple the surface or rubbing off the paper. You will see the image appearing through the paper. Any “whitish” spots you see are indications that the image is not quite burnished onto the clay. You may need to re-wet the brush and the image a few times. You will see a complete image through the paper when done. Let dry, this will take approx. 10-15 minutes. At this point you can trim excess clay around image, but be careful not to cut or press into paper. (Photo 2)

Step 5: Bake clay and paper according to clay manufacturers directions. Turn off oven and let cool.

Step 6: Remove image by peeling from a corner. If it sticks too much, try another corner or simply soak in water and lightly rub. Paper will come off with ease. Lay aside to dry.

There is a good write up on Cindy Lietz' site about transfers as well....


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really cool technique Tina that I can't wait to try!

Will have to see if I can grab a pack of that paper next time I'm shopping. Image transfers are so useful and fun that it would be good to find an inkjet method that works well and isn't too expensive.

Thanks so much for sharing your idea with us and thank you for the mention of my blog! I really appreciate that!

jana said...

What type of transfer paper did you use?

Is this the same as Epson iron-on paper for inkjet printers?

Beadcomber said...

Hi, it doesn't iron-on. The Epson paper is a high-resolution inkjet paper that has a matte coating on one side. The coating is some sort of 'clay'. I have two Epson papers that says "photo quality ink jet paper" - matte, 27lb 4.9 mil 90% opacity, 90 ISO Brightness (SO41062) and the other package says "high quality ink jet paper" - High resolution coated paper(SO41111)

jana said...

Thanks so much for that info... I'll check it out next time I'm at Office Max...

Anonymous said...

Wow! A friend told me about your blog. I'm loving all the info you have here.

jojobean said...

Flecto? Is that Flecto varathane? Or something else called Flecto? Thanks!

Rocket's Mom said...


Varathane used to be made by it's made by Rustoleum. I could only find gallon cans of it at the big-box home store, and none at all at the big-box craft store, but finally found a nice "Ben & Jerry" size ;-)... at a local university bookstore. (Maybe I was just lucky, because the university is Rhode Island School of, they've got EVERYTHING there!)

vinegrafted said...

Hi - I found this paper on sale through Staples online and wondered if it is the same as what you're using.

The description is:
Epson® Photo-Quality Inkjet Paper, Matte, 8 1/2" x 11", 100/Pack

The website is:

The paper is normally 17.50/8 1/2 x 11/ 100 sheets

The description on the paper is different from Staples description. On the paper it's stated:
'Presentation Paper' with the following description:
* 8 1/2" x 11"
* Matte finish for photo quality images and razor, sharp text
* 4.9 mil thickness
* Perfect for newsletters, proposals and flyers with photos
* Bright white paper accentuates highlights

From the Manufacturer

* Matte coated, single-sided ink jet paper with a smooth finish
* Perfect for newsletters, proposals and flyers with photos
* For colorful graphic images and razor sharp black text
* Guaranteed to work with ALL ink jet printers

Presentation Paper Matte is a bright white, coated paper ideal for printing newsletter, flyers, reports or special presentations containing photos or graphics. Its smooth matte finish means you get bright colors and dark text.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

Beadcomber said...

hi vineyard...don't have your email, so don't know if you will see this response here:
Matte coated...the word 'coated' usually means 'clay-coated' and should work. Make sure you print on the coated side, not the slightly shiny side.
Good luck :)

Wilczex said...

Hi! I found your blog very interesting and helpful. I have Brother inject printer and I want to learn transfers so badly, but all my tries were nothing but failure. But I'm going to try your tips. I have one question then. Is this paper a kind of photo paper?

ArtFairly Aware said...

Can't wait to try this!

Anonymous said...

I just tried your cool techique. I have been doing fractals for a long while, and was anxious to put some of them on PC, but I have and inkjet printer, and that seemed to spell doom! Until I found you! They turned out great, and even the ones I was too impatient to wait for look like pieces of broken pottery. Thank you soooo much for this tutorial!!

Giftbearer said...

This looks really interesting! I have an Etsy shop and have been thinking of doing some methods to transfer my art and photographic images onto my handcrafted jewelry! I'll have to give this a try! Do you have a Youtube channel? I think this would make a wonderful Youtube video if you have a video camera!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...