Many years ago, before my shift into digital photography, I used to shoot with slide (transparency) film. It was a difficult medium, as there was little latitude for any exposure mistakes, but it was the way of professional photographers, so I embraced it as best I could. I now find myself with hundreds of plastic archival sheets of old slides that are both impractical to store and hard to view. So what can an artist do with all these old slides?
Make art prints using Polaroid transfers!
Some time ago, I bought myself a Vivitar Slide Printer from a vendor on eBay along with a couple of packs of Polaroid instant film. Although it sat in my studio for sometime (and the Polaroid film is long past its expiry date!), I finally got around to experimenting with the process and creating some Polaroid transfers. It was like making art from my old slides.
The method is actually surprisingly simple… here’s what I did:
1. I loaded the top of my Vivitar Slide Printer with the Polaroid Instant Film (there are 10 exposures per pack).
2. I placed a mounted slide into the machine. (It simply slips into the slot at the front of the printer.)
3. I soaked some thick sheets of watercolour paper in water for about 20 seconds each. I squeegeed them off and left them sitting on a hard surface. Some people suggest adding some PhotoFlo to your water, but unfortunately I didn’t have any hanging around anymore.
4. I then pressed the exposure button on the printer and exposed the slide to the Polaroid film. Once exposed, I pulled out the exposed film from the top of the printer.
5. After about 10 seconds of processing, I pulled apart the Polaroid negative and the print and carefully placed the negative (gooey side down) onto the damp watercolour paper. I then used a brayer to carefully press the film to the paper.
6. After about 2 minutes, I slowly peeled away the negative to reveal an interesting image on the watercolour paper. I later learned that some suggest neutralizing the paper with vinegar and water, but I didn’t try it.
I’m not sure what I think of these prints, but they are certainly interesting and much different from the original slides. They have a dark moody quality and a rough texture to them that are definite qualities of Polaroid Transfers, but I’m not sure how much of an additional effect the expired film had on the results, in the end.