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Lift prints from a color laser copier.

As a former K-12 art teacher now instructing university students, I look for a activities that lead to creative and the aesthetically pleasing visual results. One recent discovery was to use the lift process and enlarge transparencies on a computer-controlled color laser copier. By manipulating the many choices on the machine, each student could immediately print a unique and striking image.

In the past, picture lifts have been used to make handmade slides and overhead transparencies. It is a process that requires a minimum of cost, expertise and cleanup. Purely by accident, our graduate education class, Film Art for K-12, was meeting the week the local copy shop was having its one-week sale on copies. We took a variety of our transparent images to be reproduced - enlarged, reduced, stretched on the X or Y axis, color enhanced, color reversed - and discovered that stunning prints could be produced when picture lifts were replicated on paper. The images were marvelous in themselves but could also be valuable tools for motivating painting, printmaking or surface design projects.

First we reviewed and practiced the basic picture-lift process using printed images from magazines, catalogs and calendars. (Almost any ink-printed image is usable, but shiny images with rich, deep colors on clay-coated paper are best.) After cutting out pieces of clear contact paper that were just a little larger than the image we wanted to transfer, we carefully pressed the sticky side of the plastic onto the face of the image. Burnishing with fingers removed any air bubbles that were trapped in the process.

Last, we dropped the plastic-coated compositions into hot soapy water to soak. Usually the students are impatient to see their transparencies and start (gently) rubbing the back of the print to remove the paper from the ink image. The trick to this process is to be sure to remove all the pulp - it looks gray when we, white when dry and sticks tenaciously until completely dissolved and washed away. Pulp left on the adhering film prevents light from passing through the image when making a copy, or through and onto the projection screen if it is a slide or overhead transparency.

The images represented here were made by placing picture-lift transparencies on the face plate of a color copier, selecting enlarge, reduce, or color to enhance whatever hue(s) you prefer, and printing to 8 1/2" x 11" (22 cm x 28 cm) paper. (Other sizes and options are available.)

When evaluating the results, we talked about design, color, composition, and reviewed the essentials of four-color printing. There was an immediate improvement in the quality and creativity of design ideas, an excitement about using part or all of a picture-lift print as a beginning for painting or fabric design, and a new appreciation for computer-aided printers as a tool - not just for repetitive tasks - but for art.

Heather Hanlon is Professor of Art Education, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Davis Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Hanlon, Heather
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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