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Just to summarize, here are the things I learned during my recent experiments with Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) and Kato Polyclay Clear Medium transfers.

  • Different paper types make a big difference in the ease of separating the TLS transfer from the paper after baking. Hammermill Fore MP ivory 20 lb. paper and the medium-weight Hammermill Color Copy Paper in Photo White were the best ones that I tried. I personally liked the ivory colored paper because the remaining cream-tinted paper fibers didn't seem to stand out as much as the bright white fibers, but you might experiment to see what works best for you with a particular project.
  • Paper type is apparently also very important in the success of the Kato Polyclay transfers. I say this only because I didn't get much of a transfer with the paper I tried.
  • I had some problems with the black ink smearing as I spread the TLS onto the printed image. This was less of a problem when I didn't try to spread it too thin.
  • I found the heat gun method much easier and quicker than the oven method for both the TLS and Kato Polyclay -- primarily because I didn't have to soak the paper to remove it. However, the transfer using the heat gun method was not as dark for either product.
  • I don't think I mentioned this, but if you're soaking the paper to remove it from the transfer after baking, it helps to be patient! I found it much easier to remove the paper if it had been soaking at least an hour. Also, don't get too rough as you rub and peel the paper bits -- it's pretty easy to tear TLS transfers.
  • The Kato Polyclay clear medium was much clearer, and it didn't stick to the paper after baking as much as the TLS did. Granted, I didn't get much of an image transfer -- but surely I can get past that minor hurdle... :-)

If you're interested in learning more about image transfers, here are some excellent online resources:

  • Polymer Clay Cyclopedia Transfer Variables: This page is geared towards normal polymer clay transfers, but it gives a good list of variables to consider -- things like age of the printed image, temperature of the clay, etc.
  • Glass Attic Transfers: Check out the "LIQUID CLAYS" section for a lot of information on liquid clay transfers. I'm sure I'll be using the comments about different paper types when I try my Kato transfers.
  • Cloud 9 Translucent Liquid Sculpey Tips and Techniques: Tyra recommends the glass method for baking the transfers. I tried it, but had essentially the same results and problems as with the other methods (the paper wasn't any easier to remove). Still, there might be some situation where this method might work better...

Overall, I can't say that my experiment with liquid clay image transfers was an overwhelming success. I did learn a lot, and I've got some things I'd still like to try. Specifically, I want to experiment with the Kato Polyclay using various other paper types and an ink-jet printer. (I'll post the results whenever I do try this.)

But for the time being, I'm just not sure these transfers are worth the trouble. Printing or copying onto vellum is far easier and gives better results, if all I'm looking for is an image on a transparent background. Transferring straight to the polymer clay (maybe even translucent clay) is easier if I want something more durable than paper. I really haven't thought of any advantages the TLS transfers have over one of these other methods. I'd be interested in hearing what other folks think about this.

I'd also love to hear from you if you've got a special TLS image transfer tip that really worked for you. Or if you've got an example of some artwork that includes an image transfer, that's even better!

Previous posts in this series include:


you must have been a scientist in your former life. i went through a similar process of finding the best image transfers for polymer and for paper.

My minor in college was computer science, but I think I got into the habit of doing detailed process analysis during my stint in software testing. I do enjoy sitting down, experimenting with different things & analyzing the results. Image transfers are a booger, though. I've still got my happy laser printer toner method that works for me... but I haven't ever gone back and worked on inkjet transfers again. For now, I'm sticking with what works for me!

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