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Hacking the Digital Print: SuperSauce White Image Transfer to Graphite Gelatin-Coated Paper

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This step-by-step technique from Bonny Pierce Lhotka, author of Hacking the Digital Print: Alternative Image Capture and Printmaking Processes, provides a recipe for making photographic image transfers via a concoction of graphite, gelatin, SuperSauce, and other common ingredients. The result is deliciously photogenic.
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I love the look of lead and have used it in my work, but I try to find good substitutes that are safe to use. I had always thought graphite was greasy and would repel the transfer, but when I stumbled onto General's Graphite Powder I thought at least I might rub it on a surface and then do a transfer to get the look of lead. I'm not sure why I thought to dump some of the graphite into hot gelatin, but when I did I was stunned to see that the graphite dissolved right into the hot liquid.

The project I describe in this article combines a gelatin transfer with a SuperSauce transfer, using both the SuperSauce Gloss and White, to get the results shown in Figure 1. This is a mixed-media and photographic image-transfer process that is very rich and visually tactile. The process combines methods from two of my books: Digital Alchemy: Printmaking Techniques for Fine Art, Photography, and Mixed Media and Hacking the Digital Print: Alternative Image Capture and Printmaking Processes. Updates to all processes and additional information are available on

Figure 1

Figure 1 'Party Dolls' is a 12-inch by 12-inch graphite and gelatin image transfer.

Preparing the Materials and Tools

First, collect all the tools and materials you'll need for this process (see Figure 2 and the following lists). Most of these items can be found at secondhand stores, if you don't already have them. Mix up the SuperSauce solutions according to the directions on the concentrate bottles.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The materials to make graphite gelatin transfers are easy to use. Labels on the concentrate provide instructions for making the solution.

Materials Needed

  • Image printed on DASS transfer film printed with pigment inks
  • SuperSauce Solution White
  • SuperSauce Solution Gloss or Matte
  • Graphite powder
  • Arches 88 paper
  • Birchwood panel, 1/2-inch thick
  • Pork or ossein beef gelatin

Tools Needed

  • Safety equipment
  • Sponge brush
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Mat knife and ruler
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Image printed on DASS Classic transfer film using photo black pigment ink set (dye-based inks won't work)
  • Soft paint roller cover, as wide as your image
  • Heated container for dipping the paper
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