How to Transfer Images to Stone or Metal Using Liquid Light

By Contributor

How to Transfer Images to Stone or Metal Using Liquid Light. A three-dimensional surface can take on a new look with the right superimposed image. This technique will allow you to transfer a photographic image using Liquid Light and a darkroom.

Prepare the Surface

Choose your stone or piece of metal. Keep in mind that an image will show up better on a light surface - and that, for this technique, you'll need a relatively flat surface.

Prepare the surface: Wash or wipe it down; scrub it if necessary to remove loose particles. Degrease it with rubbing alcohol if necessary.

Coat a metal surface with two coats of spray polyurethane - front and back - and allow it to dry fully to seal the surface and prevent it from rusting.

Coat a stone surface or sealed metal surface with two coats of acrylic matte medium - front and back - and allow it to dry fully.

Transfer the Image

Heat the Liquid Light by placing the sealed bottle in a tub, bucket or pan of hot water. (It will begin to re-congeal if the temperature falls below 80 degrees F.)

Pour some Liquid Light onto your target surface area under safelight conditions in the darkroom, and spread it around using a brush.

Make several test strips at the same time by pouring Liquid Light onto watercolor paper.

Allow to dry in complete darkness for several hours. (The surface will be "good" for at least a week - check the bottle to be sure.)

Expose the image as you would a normal photograph - that is, test until you get optimum exposure time for your image.

Develop, fix and wash as usual - but you may need to modify your developing and fixing trays depending upon the shape of the object you're printing on.

Allow to dry fully. A piece of metal will probably dry in an hour or two; a porous rock may need to dry overnight.

Seal with clear polyurethane or acrylic matte medium.


Because you're going to be immersing your surface in water and photochemistry, it's important that it be well-sealed. Coat the image area of the surface with gesso for optimum contrast. If you're using a light-colored piece of metal or stone, you may not need to do this. Once Liquid Light dries, it can be handled like any commercial photo-sensitive paper - i.e., exposed, developed, fixed and washed. The main difference is that the emulsion is 10 to 20 times slower. For example, if you have an image that is normally a 15-second exposure, with Liquid Light you're looking at a 150- to 300-second exposure.