Retro Friday 3.0

What?  It’s Friday again?  What a great excuse to go retro!

country porch Polaroid Transfer (c) 2003, Lynne Medsker
"country porch" Polaroid Transfer (c) 2003, Lynne Medsker

In my last ‘retro’ post I mentioned Polaroid transfer art so I thought that would be a good jumping off point for this post.  Polaroid transfer is a photo image transfer process that uses Polaroid film to transfer an image.  It is, in some ways, similar to printmaking. You can use either a Polaroid camera or a DayLab printer with slides to expose the film.  The film used is the old style, pull/peel apart type.  Instead of letting it process until it’s “set” you peel it apart quite early in the process and then put the film face down on paper (generally watercolor paper but you can experiment with different types) or other surfaces and roll it with a brayer until the image transfers.  I could bore you with details on temperatures, timing, etc. but that’s the basic process.  No two ever seem to turn out exactly the same way due to minor differences in the way they process.  So it’s always a bit of a surprise what you might end up with, which is 1/2 the fun!

ocean view Polaroid Transfer with watercolor (c) 2003, Lynne Medsker
"ocean view" Polaroid Transfer with watercolor (c) 2003, Lynne Medsker

There are, of course, lots of ways to alter the transfers – before, during or after processing them.  Since they seem to develop with less saturation than a normal photograph, adding some color with pencils or watercolors can be done to add emphasis.  You can also process two (or more) images at once (making a ‘slide sandwich’ so to speak) when you expose the film, like this image:

lady in the leaf Polaroid Transfer (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker
"lady in the leaf" Polaroid Transfer (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker

Another way to create interesting images is to let the film process in the normal fashion and then ‘cure’ for several hours then you can submerge the entire photo into hot water and gently ‘lift’ the emulsion off of the paper and place it on another object.  It’s a little trickier than it sounds but the results are really interesting!  Here is an emulsion lift image, you can see the clear edges around the outside of the image. 

untitled emulsion lift image of butterfly (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker
untitled emulsion lift image of butterfly (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker

The old-fashion, sometimes haunting, nature of these images lend themselves well to be used in collage too.  

waiting collage (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker
"waiting" collage (c) 2004, Lynne Medsker

The thing that makes me sad about these images is that Polaroid no longer produces this type of film so, before too long, this will be a dead art form. 😦  When I found out they had discontinued making it I bought several packs and put them in the freezer, thinking I could save them to play with down the line.  It wasn’t until several months later I found out that Polaroid film, unlike roll film, can’t be frozen to stop the expiration process.  So, by all accounts I ruined what stash I had.  Sigh!  I may, at some point, pull it out and play with it just to be sure but after hearing the explaination as to why you can’t freeze it (the chemicals that develop the film are altered by the freezing process) it makes sense that it would ruin it.  

Although the price is a bit high I did see that the film is still available.  Maybe I should purchase some and host a workshop before it’s all gone.  Anyone interested?

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