Craft & Design Photography & Video
Instantly Transfer Photographic Images with a Blender Pen

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As someone who keeps an art journal, this is a technique I will definitely be trying. The idea couldn’t be easier. You take analog photos, get them photocopied on a toner-based copier (or laser printed), and then apply a blender pen (available in arts and crafts stores) to the reverse of the photocopy (to deposit a mirror image of your photo). The BLDG25 blog explains the transfer process:

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Flip your image face down, and hold in place while you completely cover the back using a blender pen. Keep in mind that your transferred image will appear as the reverse of the original — like a mirror image. If you’re nervous that the photocopy will move during the process, feel free to tape it down. The best way to do the transfer is to completely saturate one area with a blender pen before moving on to the next. A good way is to start in a corner so that you can lift it up and check to see when it’s time to move on to the next area.

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They don’t say in the piece, but it’s the toner that makes the transfer work (and the Xylene in the blender pen). This is why the technique will not work on ink-based printers. Also not specified, you should be able to do this with output from a any toner-based machine, including printing digital photos and artwork on a laser printer. And acetone-based products, like nail polish remover, will likely also work as the transferring solvent. Using this technique, you can print onto paper, wood, ceramic, fabric, and more.

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Here are the results achieved by Flckr user “the3robbers,” using this method in her Moleskine. I think it’s quite a lovely and sophisticated effect from what seems to be a fairly straightforward process.

I’ve also read that this technique works in transferring newsprint images. I’m going to try my hand at this (starting with newsprint) and I’ll post my results in the comments. If you decide to try it (or already have), please post up your results below.

BTW: There are DIY blender pens recipes online, basically just filled with rubbing alcohol, glycerin, and distilled water. I have no idea if this formula would work on toner-printed images, but I’ll try to find that out as well.

6 thoughts on “Instantly Transfer Photographic Images with a Blender Pen

  1. That’s cool using this method of transfer as a scrapbook. I have used it to transfer images to linoleum blocks for carving, and in my experience, there’s nothing magic about those xylene-based blender pens, so if you can’t easily find one, there are other solvents that will work as well – sometimes too well! The blender pens are handy, though.

  2. This works for transferring images to smooth wood also. I did this to make party-favor “wooden nickels” on blanks bought from a wooden nickel company (yes there is such a thing)

  3. The pens work great but they dry up quickly and are pricey! So, I refill mine by buying bulk xylene (a quart runs about $6). You just pull the tip off and squirt some in and put the tip back on. You’ll save mucho dinero this way.

  4. Hey everyone, I’m not having any success at this method of transferring; any tips or tricks? I’ve tried to transfer to multiple wood surfaces with no luck. The prints are from a laser printer. I purchased a blender marker from a local craft store and after reading online I’ve even tried acetone to transfer. Am I not pushing hard enough? Please help
    :(

  5. The blender pen in the pictures isn’t anywhere in my country and too expensive to buy in america and have it send here, so what I wanted to know is are there other brand of blender pens or other things I can do.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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