Friday, December 17, 2010

Playing with Polaroid (slide, print and emulsion transfers)

I decided to scan some art I made years ago in a Polaroid print transfer and emulsion class with Kathleen Carr. The following two pieces are from a slide I took of a ride (and riders spinning) at the county fair. It was my first (and, regrettably, only) time experimenting with a manual camera (f stop and all), and I love the image.

Here's how this multi-medium print process is done:

First, I printed the slide twice onto peel-apart Polaroid film using a simple machine called a slide transfer. The one on the left is a print transfer, meaning I then developed the picture straight onto watercolor paper instead of letting it develop on the film backing. The result is a vintage-looking, scrapey-edged print resembling a painting. The one on the right is an emulsion transfer, meaning I let the 2nd photo fully develop and then lifted it off its backing (under water). The result is a malleable form you can tear or mold onto paper, rocks, wood or other material!

Polaroid print transfer: prizes at county fair
My brief, but passionate, romance with peel-apart Polaroids began when I took a road trip all around the U.S. for seven months in 1999. I found my vintage automatic 320 accordion-style land camera at a back road 2nd-hand shop in Oregon. The owner had no idea if it even worked. But for $8 I knew I couldn't go wrong. It took me till Seattle until I could find the proper film for it at a specialty camera shop.

In New York I happened upon a little exhibit featuring Polaroid transfers, and fell in love with their ethereal quality. When I returned to California on the eve of the millennium, my mother just happened to give me Carr's book, Polaroid Transfers. And the artist just happened to live and give workshops in the town I adopted as my new home. Sadly, my $100 Polaroid slide transfer machine has gathered dust in the closet since!

Here are just a few of those black and white, and color, photos I took with the camera:
Granite graveside sculptures: Cape Cod (left) & Rhode Island (rt)
Saguaro Cactus in Sonoran Desert, Tuscon, AZ
Statue of Liberty pre-reconstruction, New York
The author/photographer picking apples in Sebastopol

According to Yahoo answers, Polaroid no longer makes the old film, "though Fuji still makes peel-apart instant film, in color and black and white. You can get it for about $8-10. You can order it online, and some photography supply shops carry it. (Like Freestyle Photo Supplies in Hollywood, California)."

Maybe I'll dust that ole machine off, take some pics and make some new prints!

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