A unique form of photography-art ... image transfers and emulsions evoke a sense of nostalgia and antiquity. The images created by the process have distressed edges and imperfections, giving each image an ethereal appearance that is unique to each piece.
Polaroid image transfers are made by developing Polaroid pull-apart films on non-photographic surfaces, usually wet watercolor paper. I take 35mm slide film and then use an enlarger to print onto Polaroid film. Sometimes I use a Polaroid camera, too!
The resulting images have an antique or ethereal quality. Sometimes I will enhance them with watercolor pencils. I have practiced this technique for many years and have only recently begun to show my work.
You may have heard that Polaroid is no longer producing instant film. This transfer process will no longer be possible, making these prints all the more unique! (Don't worry, I've got a tiny stockpile that should last a little while longer.)
I was fortunate enough to also visit with the folks at Impossible, BV in Enschede in the east of the Netherlands, about two hours by train from Amsterdam. This was the last operational Polaroid film producing plant in the world, closing its doors in late 2008.
I met with Mr Andre Bosman, the executive director of The Impossible Project. After 30 years as an engineer with Polaroid, he and a number of other chemists, engineers and investors began The Impossible Project with the goal of reinventing integral film by the beginning of 2010.
Mr Bosman very kindly gave me a tour of the old Polaroid machines, and over the course of two hours explained the assembly process of 600 Spectra film (that's the film that could be used with the SX-70 camera or the kind that "spits out" of your old One Step) and showed me the machinery they were able acquire from Polaroid.
He also explained the current chemical experimentation efforts to create a new developing agent and discussed some of Polaroid's marketing history (last 10 years or so) and the progress and expectations of the project. The goal is to introduce a new pack film similar to the old 600 film that can be used with the millions of instant cameras already in existence around the world. 1 million pieces in 2010, 3 million in 2011 and up from there.
If you know anything about the history of Polaroid, you know they were VERY secretive about their film development, components and assembly procedures, so being able to tour the remaining part of the plant and see some of the old machinery was very exciting. Photos would never have been allowed back in the day!
The folks at Impossible are not recreating Polaroid; they are creating a new product that has already attracted a market and demand.
For more info on the reintroduction of instant film (yes!), visit The Impossible Project.