Image Transfer

Encaustic image transfer is the transference of a printed or drawn image onto wax. The adhesive properties of wax allow images to be transferred; a burnisher or spoon is the only tool necessary for transferring onto wax. (The solvents commonly used for other methods of transfer are unnecessary).

Types of Images that can be Transferred

Black and white and colored photocopies and some computer ink jet and laser prints (all of which can be enlarged or reduced), carbon and graphite paper, graphite, charcoal, pastel, and oil drawings, colored transfer tape/book embossing tape, press type, and images transferred onto waxed paper can all be transferred onto wax.

Image Transfer Method

The best method for transferring is to place the print or drawing face down onto a smooth, flat waxed surface that has been fused within the last half hour. The wax surface can be either encaustic medium or the pigmented paint. A smooth surface works best, as a textured surface will not pick up all the details of the image.

Using the etching burnisher with pressure, rub in an overlapping circular manner the entire back of the image. This makes the image transfer from the paper to the tacky wax. If you are transferring from carbon paper or transfer tape, use a rounded tip (ball point) pen to avoid tearing the paper or tape. Certain copy machines make prints that are harder to transfer than others (the best machines are those in which the heat-setting device is broken or older machines in which the toner is less permanent or does not penetrate into the paper).  
If the image does not transfer after the burnishing step, wet the back of the paper and continue to burnish. Pull off the paper, if it sticks, dab on more water and gently rub/roll the paper off. A small amount of paper stuck to the surface will not matter since the next step involves fusing which will transparentize any paper that remains.

A light fusing should be done so that the wax encapsulates the transferred image. Allow the surface to cool. Keep in mind that the image will be delicate because it is close to the surface. It can be left this way or, apply a thin layer of medium over it to make it less vulnerable. A heavy fusing will cause the image to break up, and may leave an interesting effect.

How Archival is Image Transfer?

Please note that certain inks and toners are not archival. Therefore, if archival properties are a concern, check with the particular company that makes the inks or toners or go to for information on the archival properties of inks and toners.

Sources for Transfer Tapes

Texas Craft (metallic heat transfer foils) | | 1-817-489-5249
Crown Roll Leaf Inc.(hot stamping foils) | | 1-800-631-3831

Artwork: © Cynthia Winika