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DIY Wintergreen Oil and Solvent Image Transfers

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Published on Nov 8, 2010

You can use oil and solvent to loosen the toner from photocopied images. Once you've released the ink, you can transfer the image to another surface. This kind of transfer is a great way to place photographic images onto materials that can't go through a printer, to give photographs a painterly effect, and to collage images. This video walks you through the process of transferring an image with oil.
Created by University of Michigan School of Art & Design faculty Rebekah Modrak in conjunction with her new book, Reframing Photography: http://www.reframingphotography.com/

The wintergreen oil we use in this demo is a compound that's commonly found in health food stores and is used in very diluted forms for massage. The oil contains methyl salicylate (the main ingredient in aspirin), but in very concentrated quantities, so the oil should NOT be ingested or applied topically.

The image transfer process does not involve eating or touching the oil. As demonstrated in the tutorial, use the cotton swab to apply so that you do not get the oil on your skin.

In terms of safety, the oil is certainly preferable to solvents such as acetone and turpentine. But as with any chemical, prevent the vapor from being an irritant by keeping the bottle capped and by using the oil in a well-ventilated area or using a respirator if in confined spaces. If you need additional information, the Material Safety Data Sheet is online.

Correction: The work shown at the end of this demo is by Pierre Gour.

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