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Spent the morning at the Photographer’s Gallery with Heinz from  Impossible learning how to do a Polaroid emulsion lift.

This is the process we went through:

  • Use a craft knife (X-ACTO etc) to cut along the back and bottom of the Polaroid
  • Pull the sides away with fingers and/or a knife
  • Heat the back with a hairdryer – this improves the separation
  • Pull apart and wash away in hot water any white dye that has transferred from the negative
  • You are now left with a positive which needs to be agitated in hot water until the edges come loose. Use your fingers or a paint brush for this.
  • When the transfer has come away completely, slide a piece of acetate (OHP film or similar) underneath and move onto this surface. Use the brush to arrange the final image. You can go back to the hot water any time to adjust or start again
  • Press the image onto a surface – paper, tile, glass etc. The acetate will slide off  – don’t pull away as this might break the image.
  • That’s it.

This is the process of gradually and gently lifting the positive image away from the Polaroid surface.

This was my first attempt. A bit torn and wonky.

Taken out of the window of the Photographer’s Gallery – under exposed.

This was my most accomplished attempt, but actually I prefer my first, more damaged image. Note the text visible in the windows is from when I sandwiched in my folder of notes and it wasn’t quite dry. An unintentional text lift!

Now to try some coloured lifts.

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