Why you should always test art materials first (and why I hate HP)

Yesterday I finally took the time to sculpt one of the art print brooches I had planned for a while. Since it was 1 A.M. when I finished it, I decided not to make the others but just bake that one and finish it right away. Thank goodness, because if I had done all of them I would be pretty pissed right now.

After baking, varnishing and gluing it together with the photo print of my work Remnants, I poured Stamperia resin over the photo and let it cure overnight. But even after half an hour I realized it won't turn out good as the photo looked blurrier than it really should. This morning I saw that my suspicion was correct. See for yourself:

Brooch FAIL

After this I can only say - I hate you HP, with a passion. This was not my first disappointment with my Photosmart D7360.

First of all, you can't print anything unless all cartridges are full (6 of them!), even if you've selected "Black and white" and "Black ink only" settings. So I went to the store and spent 60€ on 4 HP Vivera cartridges and 12€ on quality HP 10x15cm photo paper.

I assembled a 10x15cm sheet in Photoshop with my artworks and selected borderless print option. Turns out, what HP calls "borderless" is short for "expand the photo for about 5mm beyond all the edges and crop to paper size". Some Google searching confirmed other Photosmart users were experiencing this issue as well. However after about an hour and 5-6 wasted photo papers, I've found a post by a user who found which combination of printer and Photoshop settings gives the correct output.

After the resin fiasco, I went to the store and bought decoupage glue, after confirming with the sales woman that it is supposed to be used with ink jet, not laser printers. I decided to test it along with all varnishes I had at home. At least I had plenty of scrap print samples :[

After an hour or so, I can say that so far most of the varnishes proved incompatible with HP Vivera ink:

  • acrylic matte spray varnish slightly changed some of the inks and on some places left a bunch of tiny white spots
  • synthetic glossy spray varnish hasn't changed colors, but isn't very glossy, it has some texture - maybe the spray cap is clogged, it's a very old can
  • water-based decoupage glue changes colors when wet and some magenta got smeared, but has cured somewhat acceptable (brush strokes are visible) - needs more testing
  • fine art grade matte varnish is very disappointing - on places where it cured well looks good, but white film formed around the edges which you can partly scratch off with your fingers - perhaps it could work if applied to a wider area around the image
  • acrylic gloss medium is useless because it's not truly transparent and changes some ink colors too

I made a pure water test too, as these inks are supposed to be water-resistant. Print that had been immersed in water for a short time and dried afterwards looks fine. Print that has been sitting in water for a few hours does not. This implies that mediums that dry faster have a bigger chance of success.

After I spend this ink, I won't be buying any more - in fact I will hide this printer in my parent's basement because I wouldn't even want to give it to someone for free! The ink is too expensive for everyday printing, and it's obviously not suitable for crafts where a variety of materials is involved. I have yet to test it on transfer paper with textile decoupage glue as a varnish, if that doesn't work I guess this leaves me with laminated bookmarks - the only thing that worked pretty well so far.

Learn from my mistakes:
1.) always test new materials on scrap work before using on real projects, and
2.) don't buy an HP Photosmart printer if you want to do any serious work.

EDIT March 25. 2011

To remove any doubt that the resin is to blame, I have tested it on drawing ink (black and colour), colour pencils, water-soluble colour pencils and diluted acrylic. As expected, they all turned out fine.



that sucks. :(


I don't know the process of making this type of jewelry, but have you tried transparent ordinary nail polish for the photo?


@cheex: Indeed it does :(

@a: Nail polish is too thick to be evenly spread on a large surface so I haven't tried because even if it did not bleed, the results would be unsatisfactory. I'm using nail polish on my smaller polymer clay work though.