Monday, February 25, 2013

How to do Emulsion Lifts using Polaroid films

How to do Emulsion Lifts

This handout is a heavily modified version of a Polaroid handout.
Seder Burns

Emulsion lifts are the easiest and most exiting Polaroid creative technique to master. All they entail is soaking a print in warm to very hot water until the image comes loose, then re-depositing the freed emulsion on a new receptor sheet. Because emulsion lifts involve separating the image from the photographic paper, there is enormous potential for manipulating the picture to create different shapes. Traditionally, emulsion lifts are done using color prints from Polaroid ER films (Types 669, 59, 559, 809), but the same technique also works in B&W using Polapan Pro 100 films (Types 664, 54, 554, and 804) - albeit with the need to use boiling, rather than just hot, water. Prints must be fully dried before being subjected to emulsion lifting. Drying can be accelerated using a hair drier, but to be safe it is often best to allow at least overnight drying of prints before use. Step One Heat water up in the coffee machine. Fill one tray with hot water from the coffee machine, and another tray with room-temperature tap water. In the tray with room temperature water, submerge the substrate that you are going to transfer the emulsion to. Step Two Immerse a fully-dried Polacolor ER print face up in the tray of hot water for about four minutes. Agitate the tray to keep the print under the surface of the water. It is not necessary to keep the water heated during this time. After four minutes have elapsed, or if the emulsion begins to float free from the substrate/backing/photographic paper, remove the print from the hot water using tongs and place it in the tray of room temperature water. Step Three Lightly push the emulsion from the edges of the print slightly toward the center. Lift the emulsion and slowly peel it away from the substrate. Carefully float the emulsion onto the new substrate. Use your fingers to push and stretch the image to further manipulate it. You can also dunk the emulsion/paper in and out of the cold water to further manipulate the image. When finished, roll the image with a soft rubber brayer roller from the middle to the edge. Start with just the weight of the roller, gradually increasing pressure only after all the excess water and air have been removed. You are done when all the folds, wrinkles and other effects look pressed down. Hang dry when finished. If you are in a hurry, you can use a hairdryer on a low setting to speed things up. Step Six If desired, spray with a clear UV protective lacquer coating. When completely dry, the image can be finished with pastels, watercolor paints, dye and pencils if desired. Materials needed for Emulsion Lifts: • Polaroid camera or Daylab • Polaroid film, type 669 • Light meter • Tripod • Coffee maker • Transfer Substrates-watercolor paper, glass, tiles, or other porous materials • Slide projector or data projector • Images to project • Instructions for using a Polaroid back • Examples of Polaroid lifts • Hairdryer • Extension cords • Thermometer • Timer/Watch For more information on creative uses of Polaroid products, visit or call Polaroid’s technical number at 800-225-1618

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