Basic Supplies The necessary supplies for creating both image and emulsion transfers are relatively simple and inexpensive. If you work with kitchen utensils, be sure to keep them separate from your culinary utensils after using them for photographic processes. If you’re starting from scratch, you might want to consider Polaroid’s Image and Emulsion Transfer Kit, which contains most of the supplies that you need.
The necessary supplies for creating both image and emulsion transfers are relatively simple and inexpensive. If you work with kitchen utensils, be sure to keep them separate from your culinary utensils after using them for photographic processes. If you’re starting from scratch, you might want to consider Polaroid’s Image and Emulsion Transfer Kit, which contains most of the supplies that you need. You can order it through your local photography dealer or mail-order catalogs, or you can gather your own supplies (see “Resources” on page 154). Here is what you’ll need:
Two 8 x 10-inch or I I x 14-inch trays (approximate sizes). These can be photographic trays, or glass or stainless-steel baking pans that won’t rust. The trays are for holding water and a vinegar bath.
Roller. Get at least a 4-inch roller. Ideally (although this isn’t a necessity), it should be larger than the size of the transfers that you’ll be making since you’ll be using the roller to press the Polaroid negative onto the receptor surface. Brayer rollers, the best choice, are printmaking rollers that come in soft and hard rubber and acrylic, beginning with a 3-inch size. While the soft-rubber rollers are the most expensive type, most people find they work best, but this is a matter of taste. You can also try a marble, pastry rolling pin if you have one.
Squeegee. This is used to remove excess water from the receptor surface. A high-quality photographic squeegee, such as the one Saunders makes, is great; however, I use inexpensive household squeegees from the grocery store for my workshops. A plastic spatula for applying bond or fiberglass resin, available at any hardware store, also works well.
Scissors. Any household scissors will do for cutting off the end of the film.
Hard, smooth working surface. A textured surface produces uneven results when you roll the negative onto the receptor surface.
White distilled vinegar. Common household vinegar is used for a final bath to restore the pH, and to brighten and clarify colors in image transfers.
Warming tray or hair dryer these two devices are optional but quite helpful. Using a 195os hors d’oeuvres warming tray is the best option I’ve found for keeping the water temperature constant during the image-transfer process. Make sure that the warming tray won’t melt the water tray if it is plastic. I’ve found that photographic trays usually work fine. I simply place the warming tray under the tray filled with water. I also use either the warming tray or a hair dryer for drying Polaroid positive prints quickly, for drying wet transfers, and for keeping dry transfers warm during development. Sometimes you can find old warming trays at thrift stores and garage sales. (Caution: Using an electrical appliance around water can result in electrocution.)
Colored gel filters. These are optional but effective. Especially useful are an amber-colored lighting gel or a red 2o or 3o color-correcting (CC) or color-printing (CP) filter to replace color lost during the image-transfer process.
Latex surgical gloves. these optional items protect your hands from the chemicals used (at an alkaline stage) in image transfers. But with practice and by being careful, you can avoid getting chemicals on your skin.
The following additional supplies are needed for emulsion transfers only:
Self-adhesive shelf paper. This can be clear, colored, or patterned it does not matter. You simply use shelf-liner paper, such as Contac, to seal the backing paper of the positive print so that it won’t dissolve in the hot water while the emulsion is loosening. You then throw the shelf-liner paper away.
Tongs. You need a pair of tongs to pull the positive print out of the hot water after the emulsion has loosened. I prefer photographic tongs with rubber tips, but metal or plastic kitchen tongs will also do. Caution: The water temperature is 16o’F, so using your fingers is dangerous: you could get burned.
Thermometer capable of reading 160°F. A quick-reading meat or candy thermometer is best for checking the temperature of the hot water. Most photographic thermometers don’t record a high enough temperature.
Electric frying pan or electric kettle. An electric frying pan is ideal for main tainting a hot-water temperature of 16OOF. If you have such a pan, you can substitute it for one of the trays. (It isn’t necessary, however, to keep the water at a constant temperature of 16o’F. You can reheat the water with a kettle.)
Timer or watch. This item must be capable of timing 3 to 4 minutes, which is the length of time that you keep the positive print in hot water.
Clear acetate sheet. This is an overhead projection sheet that can be found at any copy store. You use it to transport the emulsion when you can’t put the receptor surface in the cold water. The surface might, for example, dissolve or be too big.