Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cold Porcelain Photo Ornaments - Sis 1

This project took A LOT of trial and error. I knew what I wanted, but I didn't know how to get it. I also took pictures of nearly every step, but somehow my SD card is now unreadable, so I only have the finished product to show you. I made a set of ornaments with photos of all of the grandkids for my mom, and wrote their names and the year on the backs. Then I made a set of just my kids for myself, plus a bunch with different pictures of the Saviour  that I liked (seeing as how this is His holiday.)

I started out by making cold porcelain. If you've ever made cooked playdough, the process is very similar, but the ingredients are much different.

Cold Porcelain

1 lb white school glue
1 lb cornstarch
2 Tbs. lemon juice
4 tsps. petroleum jelly

Get a medium to large saucepan that you aren't in love with. I was able to get everything off, but I may have been lucky. Put all of the ingredients in the pan and stir over low heat until it pulls away from the sides of the pan and looks doughy instead of gooey. Be prepared to use some muscle. It was not easy to stir this (and don't use a weak spoon.)

Remove from heat and let cool enough that you can touch it without burning yourself. Start kneading. Once the dough is all smooth, roll it out, again, this is difficult, because it's stiff dough. Cut out. I used a vaguely flower-shaped cookie cutter. (If you don't have a cookie cutter you like, you can always make one.) Then I punched holes in every bump with a large drinking straw. I used a slightly smaller drinking straw to punch holes inside the ring of bigger holes. If you wanted, you could use coffee stirrers to make another round of smaller holes, if you wanted.

To use a straw for a punch, the easiest way is to use the bendable straws and cut it off just above the joint section. Press the original sipping end into the dough and hold onto the contracted joint as a handle. To clear the dough out of the straw, stick a toothpick through the joint and push the "holes" out the other side. You may need a couple of each size of straw because they aren't terribly sturdy.

Once the shapes are cut, you can air-dry them for several days or dry them in a 175 degrees farenheit oven for a couple of hours. Either way, turn them over once in a while, because they start to curl and you want these flat.

Here's where the adventure started. I wanted to print photos and transfer the images directly onto the ornaments. These are the methods I tried:

Inkjet print-out on waxed paper, then dampen the ornament and rub picture face down onto it. Didn't work. Very blurry. With less water, the ink didn't come off of the waxed paper.

Inkjet print-out on velum, then hold the ornament over steam and rub the image face down onto the ornament. The image on the ornament was very undefined.

Inkjet print-out on transparency film pre-sprayed with spray hair-gel. Rub image face down onto the ornament. The image on the ornament was again, very undefined.

Inkjet print-out face-down on ornament with rubbing alcohol rubbed on back of paper. No transfer of image at all.

Laser print-out face-down on ornament with rubbing alcohol rubbed on back of paper. No transfer of image at all.

Laser print-out face-down on ornament with acetone rubbed on back of paper. No transfer of image at all.

Laser print-out mod-podged face down on ornament, then (attempted) to remove the paper. Came out a gooey, sticky mess.

Here's the thing about the laser print-outs, though. before going to get laser print-outs of my photos, I tried it out with a laser-printed bill from a utility company. The ink was only black, and it worked on the cold porcelain with both rubbing alcohol and acetone. The color print-outs I got didn't work at all, though. I don't know if it was a different kind of laser printer, or if it was the fact that it was color, but it didn't work.

And the thing I learned about every one of the ink-jet methods is that it worked very well and transfered a nice clear image onto paper or papertowel, so in the future, I could use this on other projects, perhaps, but it doesn't work on cold porcelain.

I gave up on the image transfer bit and decided to just cut the pictures out and glue them onto the ornaments. I wanted to print it onto tissue paper, so it wouldn't be as obvious that it was cut and glued on, so I tried to send a piece of tissue paper that was taped onto a regular sheet of copier paper through my printer. (I assumed that tissue paper isn't stiff enough. Maybe I should have tried it anyway, because then at least I'd know.) But the paper jammed both times.

In the end, I glued laser print-outs onto the ornaments and covered them with another thin layer of glue. If I'd had matte mod-podge, I would have liked to use that, but I didn't want to wait another few days to get it in the mail. I used the laser print-outs because they wouldn't smear when I put the glue on top of them like inkjet prints would.

I still like the results, but I still wish I could have made the image transfer idea work.

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