Thursday, September 17, 2009

Struggling with TAP

I have been remiss in following up on my mystery pictures here. Terry guessed correctly that it is a close-up of a rose, while Felicity had the most creative vision, seeing it as bacon. (I alluded that there might be something in it for the correct guess, but I think both of you deserve a little something, so keep an eye on your mailbox.) A less cropped version is above along with a rotated close-up. These two photos figure in my recent experiment with TAP.

Transfer Artist Paper or TAP is advertised as a superior transfer medium. Think t-shirt transfers and all the things you dislike about them, and TAP is supposed to be a big improvement. I wanted to believe everything I've read about it, because there are times when I would prefer not to run fabric through my printer to transfer a photo or photo manipulation. I was especially intrigued by the claim of "No Hand!" and the fact that the ink from the printer is "fused into the fibers of the fabric. It virtually becomes a part of the material." This theoretically makes the transfer virtually permanent. It struck me as TAP is to normal transfer paper as procion dyes are to fabric paint. Sign me up.

But all is not rosy in the world of Tap (pardon the pun). My initial experiment with the product has not gone well, and I find the claim of "No Hand" totally false, at least the way I define "No Hand." But if the other claims hold true, I can overlook the "hand" issue because the feel of the transfer is smooth and flexible unlike others I've tried. I printed the rose duo sized at 2" x 3" and transferred it to a scrap of the Setacolor-painted fabric used in my Bishop's Close piece. I wanted to see how opaque the image would read, but as you can see, the underlying colors of the fabric shadowed through. (Not TAP's fault - I pretty much expected this.)

The real problem showed up on two images with dark areas. Above is how the transfer paper looked when it came out of my Epson Stylus Photo RX500 inkjet printer with the original image just below. You may have to click on the picture to see how the black ink around the windows bled and how ragged all the details are. I used the recommended printer settings (plain paper, medium quality) but obviously, this isn't working with my printer.

The other image printed out on this test sheet of TAP was the kaleidoscope manipulation for my nephew's block (see this post). I printed it out at the full 8-1/2 inches, confident that it would work per everything I'd read, but as you can see above, the bleeding was particularly bad on this one, rendering it unusable. (I wouldn't have liked it for that block anyway because of the change of hand.) I transferred it to fabric anyway. The smaller transfer had done its thing well, with the paper easily releasing, but on the larger piece, it buckled in one spot, creating a break in the transfer in the section shown above. My ironing board, apparently, is not firm enough, and next time I'll use a towel on the kitchen counter. I also discovered that the paper must come off right away. If you let it cool even slightly, the paper continues to grip.

One thing I can say about TAP is that the color transfers beautifully - saturated and true. The photo above is the same image printed directly onto pima cotton treated with Bubble Jet Set which definitely looks duller and a bit washed out. If I can solve the bleeding problem, I think I can see some applications for this product, but it is expensive and it would have to be on something where adding stiffness to an area (similar to the stiffness of Wonder Under fusible) would not be an issue for me.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried this product, especially if you have any tips that could help me overcome my struggles with it.

1 comment:

Scrappy Cat said...

I don't have any tips, but I'll be watching to see if you solve your problem with the bleeding. I bought some TAP recently myself, but haven't used it yet. I wonder if the brand of printer makes a difference. When I have a chance, I'll try it out, because I have an HP printer. It will be interesting to see how it compares to your experience.

And thanks for your comments on my blog.