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DEMO: Making Chocolate Transfer Sheets

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#1 Kerry Beal

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 06:35 PM

I have been up in Manitoulin Island for the last few weeks working and I always like to bring along a new project to work on that I can't find time for at home. You might recall that last year it was making a silicone mold for chocolate (that would be the groundhog that everyone found quite amusing).

This year, prompted by Lloydchoc's suggestions in this thread I purchased a copy of American Cake Decorator magazine of May/June 2003 to help me get started and worked my way from there.

So follow along and see what we have accomplished so far.

I started by obtaining the emulsion. This is the stuff that is applied to the screen. The American Cake Decorating magazine said to get Ulano TZ/CL (CL for clear) as it is food grade. In speaking with Ulano directly, they told me that while this is the one everyone uses for chocolate transfers, they have never gone to the expense of having it declared so by the FDA. Essentially it is a mixture of poly vinyl alcohol (PVA) and diazo dye. Diazo dye is light sensitive and causes the PVA to harden when it is exposed to light.

The first problem I ran into was that no one in Canada carried that particular emulsion so they would have to order it from the US. By the time all was said and done I was forced to purchase 4 - 4 litre containers of the stuff. Once you have mixed it up you need to use it within several months, so I poured off 1 litre, weighed out 1/4 of the diazo dye and mixed that. I couldn't help but notice that the base - the PVA - smelled and looked just like white glue. A little research online has convinced me that it really is just white glue, so right now experiments are underway to test this hypothesis.


These are pictures of my screen. It is an 80 mesh which means it has big holes compared to the usual silk screen. It means that your print won't be quite as crisp, but lots of coloured cocoa butter should get through.
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The two sides of my 80 mesh 'silk' screen. Polyester actually.

I purchased the screen at Screentek, the same place I got the emulsion. Andria there gave me a quick lesson. Originally I had planned to expose the screen using a 150 watt light bulb as shown in the cake decorating magazine, but Andria convinced me that she had a great customer who lived on Manitoulin Island and she had already told her what I wanted to do, so I should go and visit her to expose my screens in the most professional way.

I stopped in at Bebamikawe Studios the first day I worked at the clinic in Wikwemikong. There I met Georgina, the proprietor. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and runs a very sucessful business making signs, screen printing on fabric and other items, and embroidering traditional native designs on clothing, moccasins and various other items. She was rather intrigued with this whole chocolate idea, but was rather unclear about what a chocolate transfer was.

The following pictures are to illustrate applying the emulsion to the screen, this is Georgina at work. Note the even, smooth strokes. Nothing like my application. But like she said, she does have over 20 years experience doing it. This is actuallly the experimental emulsion that I made with white glue on one of her reclaimed screens.

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The emulsion is poured into the applicator.


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The emulsion is applied to the screen with the applicator in a thin layer. You do the flat side of the screen first then the raised side. In this way you end up with a thicker layer of emulsion on the side that will be down when you are printing. The emulsion then needs to dry overnight protected from light.


A couple of days before I went down to Wiki, Beth (Beth Wilson on eG) from the Manitoulin Chocolate Works and I spent the afternoon in her brother in law's print shop getting our images prepared. It is important that the image be crisp and clear and that the lines are thick enough to show up when printed. For example a flowing script that has a loop in a letter may not actually end up with a loop when you are done. I had Keith take the script from my label and rearrange it in a way that should print well. Beth had him take an image of Manitoulin Island and add the initials MCW for the chocolate works under the island.

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Two transparency copies are made of the desired image and taped together to make the image as black as possible.

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The image is placed on a table that contains some extremely strong lights. The frame is placed on top of the image.

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The screen is placed over the image. Care must be taken in determining which way is up, you want to end up with a backward transfer so that when you apply it to your chocolate it is the right way around.


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A vacuum is applied to the frame with it's attached transparency. This holds everything in place and minimizes extraneous light. After about 8 minutes under the strong lights, the emulsion has hardened and you are ready to wash the screen.


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After exposure to the light a strong steam of water washes away the areas masked from the light by the black printing.

Now we were ready to try to learn to print our transfers. Beth and I taped a piece of overhead projector acetate to the counter and prepared the coloured cocoa butter. I mixed some melted cocoa butter with powdered PCB dye on a piece of marble. I worked it until it was starting to firm up but wasn't so stiff if wouldn't flow. I used the heat gun to warm it again if it got too stiff.


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The coloured cocoa butter pool.

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Note the tongue depressors taped to the frame. This holds the screen an 1/8th of an inch or so above the transparency so that it springs back after the squeegie is applied.


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Getting ready to flood the screen with the coloured cocoa butter.


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The initial squeegie to push the cocoa butter into the screen. Note that I am holding up the end of the screen that is towards me in order not to print on the acetate yet.

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The final squeegie to push the cocoa butter onto the transfer.

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Beth's transfers in blue. Very early on the learning curve as you can see.

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Beth's transfer in dark chocolate.

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My first attempt in blue.

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The chocolates with the transfers still in place.


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After peeling off the transfers.

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My trials with gold coloured cocoa butter. After showing the dark chocolate and blue transfers to Georgina she showed me how she floods her screen for printing T-shirts. So on this attempt I dragged the squeegie over once to fill the script, then went back over it a couple of times to make sure there was lots of cocoa butter over the lettering. When I pushed down for my final squeegie application I got a reasonably good application. Of course you have to work quickly before the cocoa butter starts to firm up or your screen will glue itself down to the acetate.

There is a bit of a problem I have yet to sort out, the edges have more intensity of colour than the middles. When I get back home I'll take my screen and cocoa butter etc and head back to screentek and get Andria to watch my technique and give me suggestions.


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This is what happens to transfers after the dog hauls them out of the box and licks each one to get the chocolate off. Not a single transfer escaped his tongue.

Total cost - $74 Cdn for 4 litre pail of emulsion, $22 for applicator, $17 for squeegies, $20 per screen. Cost for Georgina to copy our images on to the transparencies and expose them $55 for both screens. We could have saved $30 by printing our images to the transparencies ourselves.

#2 ejw50

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 06:44 PM

wow, v ery nice I've always wondered how this is done. Thanks!

#3 zoe b

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 07:26 PM

all I can say is--WOW!!!!

what an interesting project--I'm exhausted just reading about it, though--although i guess it will become easier each time.

#4 Mary F

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 09:28 PM

Wow is right!

That is some serious motivation and hard work!

#5 etalanian

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 09:28 PM

Thanks for such an interesting post!

How many times can you use the same transfer sheet?

Eileen
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#6 Rose&Thorn

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 10:14 PM

I am a virgin to chocolate and candy making. I have just spent the last 2 days reading all your posts, all the way back to 2003. My mind is blown away.

I live in South Africa, where most of the equipment and products you use are totally unknown - except to the professional chocolatiers, I would imagine.

I am going to continue to read and learn from you all and soon I hope to be able to participate in your very :wub: exciting discussions.

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#7 Kerry Beal

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 04:09 AM

Thanks for such an interesting post!

How many times can you use the same transfer sheet?

Eileen

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The transfer sheet itself is used once. After you place it on the top of the chocolate the whole image transfers to the chocolate (theoretically). Depending on the material you print the cocoa butter on and whether you cut it, you could clean the acetate and print on it again I'm sure.

The screen itself should have a very long life as long as you care for it.

#8 Kerry Beal

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 04:10 AM

I am a virgin to chocolate and candy making. I have just spent the last 2 days reading all your posts, all the way back to 2003. My mind is blown away.

I live in South Africa, where most of the equipment and products you use are totally unknown - except to the professional chocolatiers, I would imagine.

I am going to continue to read and learn from you all and soon I hope to be able to participate in your very  :wub: exciting discussions.

Rose&Thorn
Cape Town
South Africa

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Welcome to eG Rose&Thorn. Can't wait to see what materials you are able to scare up and the projects you decide to try.

#9 gfron1

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 05:21 AM

This is a great demo Kerry. My question is about detail. You mentioned the need for a certain thickness of lines, but I found your logo to be pretty detailed/thin. How fine do you think you can go, and could you go finer if you used different screen hole sizes?

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#10 Kerry Beal

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 05:44 AM

This is a great demo Kerry.  My question is about detail.  You mentioned the need for a certain thickness of lines, but I found your logo to be pretty detailed/thin.  How fine do you think you can go, and could you go finer if you used different screen hole sizes?

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I don't know if I can tell you exact measurements. Even though my logo is thin as you say, we still fattened it up and intensified the darkness as much as possible.

I'm not sure about the screen hole size either, I may have to get a couple of screens with different meshes and experiment.

Of course the next thing to be mastered is the multiple layer screen printing to give different colours. Getting everything aligned will be a challenge as will figuring out how to drop out all but one colour for the screen making process. I'm challenged when it comes to using programs like photoshop.

#11 prasantrin

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 06:14 AM

Wow!

For practice or very small runs, I wonder if something like Print Gocco might be useful. In Japan they sell two kinds--the manual one (like in the link) and I think one which attaches to your computer (not sure about that, though). I've only seen the manual ones in North America, though.

#12 Kerry Beal

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 07:20 AM

Wow!

For practice or very small runs, I wonder if something like Print Gocco might be useful.  In Japan they sell two kinds--the manual one (like in the link) and I think one which attaches to your computer (not sure about that, though).  I've only seen the manual ones in North America, though.

View Post

That looks really neat. Sounds like it would work for the screen part, but I wonder about how you could introduce your own 'ink'.

#13 David J.

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:57 PM

This sounds like a fantastic project!

I've been interested in making custom transfers myself so I've been following all the threads. With all the technique involved in doing the printing work it looks like it would benifit from being shot on video and turned out as a DVD once you get it perfected.

#14 sote23

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 10:31 PM

kerry,
great job. Keep us posted on the ones with colors. I would be very interested to see ho that turns out.

Luis

#15 ejw50

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:50 PM

One overall question:

http://www.americanc...atedesigns.com/

These guys charge $100 to do a 1 color transfer sheet setup, then another $115 for 100 sheets minimum.


Based on your experiences, would you do it yourself or would you just pay somebody to do it for you?

Edited by ejw50, 28 July 2007 - 08:53 PM.


#16 Kerry Beal

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:52 AM

One overall question:

http://www.americanc...atedesigns.com/

These guys charge $100 to do a 1 color transfer sheet setup, then another $115 for 100 sheets minimum.


Based on your experiences, would you do it yourself or would you just pay somebody to do it for you?

View Post

I think if you just wanted lots of copies of one transfer it would be cheaper and easier to have them do it. Mostly because of the learning curve and costs associated with equipment etc. I just did it for fun and to prove I could do it.

$215 for 100 sheets seems inexpensive in terms of the time and work involved. Of course doing it this way it's all by hand.

#17 ejw50

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 05:57 AM

One overall question:

http://www.americanc...atedesigns.com/

These guys charge $100 to do a 1 color transfer sheet setup, then another $115 for 100 sheets minimum.


Based on your experiences, would you do it yourself or would you just pay somebody to do it for you?

View Post

I think if you just wanted lots of copies of one transfer it would be cheaper and easier to have them do it. Mostly because of the learning curve and costs associated with equipment etc. I just did it for fun and to prove I could do it.

$215 for 100 sheets seems inexpensive in terms of the time and work involved. Of course doing it this way it's all by hand.

View Post


thanks for that insight.


Just disclaimer, I have never bought a transfer from that company or used them in any way, it was just something that came off of Google.

#18 Anna N

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:22 AM

Kerry,

I am simply amazed! But I don't understand why I should be. You seem able to do just about anything you put your mind to. :smile:
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#19 Fugu

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:28 AM

Wow Kerry Beal, thank you very much for this thread. I am going to visit Curry's art supply shop and McCalls bakeing supplies to see if I can source out some of these things.

#20 Kerry Beal

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:34 AM

Wow Kerry Beal, thank you very much for this thread. I am going to visit Curry's art supply shop and McCalls baking supplies to see if I can source out some of these things.

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Screentec is in Toronto too, but remember I've got 4 gallons of the "foodsafe" emulsion. PM me if you want to take one of them (or part of one of them) off my hands.

#21 Kerry Beal

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 07:38 AM

Does anone recall in which thread we were talking about making our own transfers and someone put up a wonderful picture of an abstract that was dots and dribbles of various colours? It was some famous artist as I recall, it had a lot of yellow and black.

I want to find that picture for my next experiment.

I think it might be a Jackson Pollock.

Edited by Kerry Beal, 29 July 2007 - 07:50 AM.


#22 stscam

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:57 PM

Kerry,

Great demo. I've tried both screens and rubber stamps to make transfers. The problem I had with the screen was getting the cocoa butter to the right temp and keeping it at that temp long enough to do the whole sheet. There are commercial screen presses that have heaters built in which keep the "ink" at a consistent temperature, but they cost $5,000-10,000 or more.

Rubber stamping is also hard to get consistently right. Too much pressure and you get mush. Too little and you get such a thin transfer that it won't read well on the chocolate. We started using self-inking stampers (with custom stamps). We paint the cocoa butter onto the ink pad, then stamp onto acetate. We can get 3-4 transfers before we need to re-ink.

Cheers,

Steve Smith
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#23 John DePaula

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 03:05 PM

Does anone recall in which thread we were talking about making our own transfers and someone put up a wonderful picture of an abstract that was dots and dribbles of various colours?  It was some famous artist as I recall, it had a lot of yellow and black. 

I want to find that picture for my next experiment.

I think it might be a Jackson Pollock.

View Post

Ha! Found it:
Spattering Chocolate?

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:biggrin:

Edited by John DePaula, 31 July 2007 - 03:07 PM.

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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#24 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 03:36 PM

Does anone recall in which thread we were talking about making our own transfers and someone put up a wonderful picture of an abstract that was dots and dribbles of various colours?  It was some famous artist as I recall, it had a lot of yellow and black. 

I want to find that picture for my next experiment.

I think it might be a Jackson Pollock.

View Post

Ha! Found it:
Spattering Chocolate?

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:biggrin:

View Post

That is the one, funny I just found that one last night looking through every Jackson Pollock on the internet and figured it looked a lot like the one I recalled. Isn't it gorgeous. But I realize there are a lot of colours and textures in there, so it's probably a bit complex to try next.

So for my next project I need something sort of like that but with maybe 3 colours only. I'm just trying to make sense of a book I bought called Photoshop 7.0 for screen printers. I need to learn how to take a picture and drop out each colour so I can print screens for each colour. I'm totally at bottom end of the learning curve on this one.

Edited by Kerry Beal, 31 July 2007 - 03:37 PM.


#25 John DePaula

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 03:51 PM

Does anone recall in which thread we were talking about making our own transfers and someone put up a wonderful picture of an abstract that was dots and dribbles of various colours?  It was some famous artist as I recall, it had a lot of yellow and black. 

I want to find that picture for my next experiment.

I think it might be a Jackson Pollock.

View Post

Ha! Found it:
Spattering Chocolate?

Posted Image

:biggrin:

View Post

That is the one, funny I just found that one last night looking through every Jackson Pollock on the internet and figured it looked a lot like the one I recalled. Isn't it gorgeous. But I realize there are a lot of colours and textures in there, so it's probably a bit complex to try next.

So for my next project I need something sort of like that but with maybe 3 colours only. I'm just trying to make sense of a book I bought called Photoshop 7.0 for screen printers. I need to learn how to take a picture and drop out each colour so I can print screens for each colour. I'm totally at bottom end of the learning curve on this one.

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Kerry, I'm not a Photoshop pro... but you might try using the Magic Wand tool to select a color you want, with the Contiguous checkbox unchecked. Then, depending on the Tolerance you've selected, you can pick Select | Similar from the menu. Then Select | Inverse, then Delete. This should eliminate all but one color. HTH
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--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#26 gfron1

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 04:04 PM

I'm a regular Photoshop user and John's explanation is correct. The only challenge you'll find with that is removing or replacing colors often times won't blend well. For the sake of screen printing you have to think in solid colors, so when you set your tolerance, you'll want the number fairly high (50-100) to include the halftones. If any of this makes sense great - if not, tell us to slow down even more.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#27 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 04:41 PM

I'm a regular Photoshop user and John's explanation is correct.  The only challenge you'll find with that is removing or replacing colors often times won't blend well.  For the sake of screen printing you have to think in solid colors, so when you set your tolerance, you'll want the number fairly high (50-100) to include the halftones.  If any of this makes sense great - if not, tell us to slow down even more.

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So following John's suggestions and setting the tolerence to 75 or 100 I clicked on the green. The background shimmers but I can't make it disappear.

#28 gfron1

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 04:52 PM

If you're just going for 'disappear' then all you have to do is hit 'delete.' If you're going for transparency...that's a different matter.

(BTW, this is my 1,000th post - woo hoo!)

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#29 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 05:03 PM

If you're just going for 'disappear' then all you have to do is hit 'delete.'  If you're going for transparency...that's a different matter. 

(BTW, this is my 1,000th post - woo hoo!)

View Post

Congrats on the 1000th post!!! I've figured out the picking individual colours, but each time I assign them a layer, the other layers disappear. so now I have to figure out how to keep each layer as a file or something.

#30 gfron1

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 05:08 PM

Okay...so here's my response to what I thought was the question since I just did a little playing. Below are two alterations that I did.
1. Taking the green and getting rid of it. This was done with 75 tolerance which proved to be too tolerant...you'll have to have patience to select all of the area without grabbing the black apparently (hold shift while you select multiple areas).
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Then I did another options called FILL which allows you to change the color - great feature for screen printing because you can make your desired space fill as black which will better transfer to the screen as you're burning the film. On this I filled with orange after using the INVERSE option.
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Now to your real question. All you're going to do is create a new layer on the layer palette and save it. Copy and paste after magic wanding. And John suggested wanding for this image, but others the lasso might be more useful.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM






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