Polaroid project – emulsion lift

Weeks of research into emulsion lift techniques were finally coming to fruition.

Scan

Searching around the house for my old darkroom trays, I found only one, and a tiny one at that. The others must be up in the loft and I wasn’t prepared to go up there. So I dug out some foccacia trays my husband uses for his baking and gave them a quick wash. He’ll never know, will he!?

crop edges off

The first stage is to cut off all the white borders to the polaroid image, thus allowing the separation to happen. So I took my first experimental Impossible project polaroid image of orchids and trimmed it, see here for how I made the image. Laying out 2 trays on the kitchen counters I placed near boiling water into the first one and cold water into the other.

IMG_0012

Sliding the trimmed polaroid image into the hot water I saw tiny bubbles appearing underneath the surface of the image. My excitement grew as I waited at least one full minute to see if it was going to work. Starting in one corner of the image I tried peeling the positive from the negative part. The two parts should peel easily, they didn’t, so I plunged the image back into the water for 30 seconds and tried again.

IMG_0017

Yes! It was working, I couldn’t believe it. I was removing the white negative part (the back bit) and separating the transparent positive part.

IMG_0022

Using a soft brush I cleaned the remaining chemistry on the positive part, gently cleaning it in the hot water.

IMG_0024

I had removed the negative part but still had to free the emulsion from the transparent foil. Plunging the image back into the hot water again for 1 or 2 minutes I started teasing the gel emulsion off using a soft brush.

emulsion on to paper

Amazingly the jellyfish-like emulsion was floating around in the water. I transferred it to the clean second tray of water and slipped in a piece of watercolour paper ready to receive the gift of this disembodied image. Gently teasing the limp emulsion with my brush I coaxed it into position. What relief and joy, it really worked!

What an amazing experiment! I can’t wait to try more.

The tools I used were: 
1 instant photo
1 or many soft brushes
1 pair of scissors or guillotine
1 carrier surface paper but it could also be wood, plastic, glass…
1 tray filled with hot water
1 tray filled with cold water

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