Cross-your-heart unladylike collage

REtro bra ad
I admit it. I hate bras. I've considered moving to the jungles of New Guinea, just so I could quit wearing them. (I know, no one's forcing me.) 

Instead of relocating, I tried channeling my passionate feelings into art. 

The exercise was part of my effort to teach myself how to paint using acrylics. I wanted to try transferring an image onto a painted surface, a technique described in one of the many "Intro to Acrylic Painting" books I checked out from my library.

The first step was finding the right image. I Googled "retro bra ads." You can imagine what I found. But there were still plenty of family-friendly images to choose from. Like this one, which looks like a recruitment ad for a lingerie army.
REtro bra ad
To work as a transfer, the image needs to look good in black and white (no grays). The one above has too many fine details. I kept searching and found the "lovable girl-of-the month." Unlike me, she loves her bra (which is called, predictably, "the Lovable Bra").

To turn the full-color image into a transfer, I desaturated it in Photoshop Elements, increased the contrast, and then applied a stamp filter. The image on the right shows what the "lovable" girl looked like after all the digital manipulation. Still lovable, I think.
 REtro bra ad turned into transfer
I printed her out using my laser printer (ink jet won't work) and cut her out like paper doll. At this stage, I was experimenting, to see whether the technique would actually work.

For my test, I used watercolor paper. I painted matte medium where the transfer would go. Then I placed the paper, image side down, onto the medium. Using my finger, I gently rubbed the paper so that the image would transfer evenly. I toweled off the excess medium and waited for the rest to dry.
 REtro bra ad turned into transfer
Removing the paper to reveal the image is delicate work. Don't try it unless you're in a Zen state of mind. After wetting the back of the paper, you rub it very gently with your fingers. Little by little, the paper flakes off. If you rub too vigorously, the toner comes off as well.

After several tries, I felt ready. I prepped the final surface -- a leftover pressboard from my husband's workshop. (I asked first.) I gessoed it and then covered it with two coats of Pepto-Bismal pink, for obvious reasons. 

I was happy with the way the image transferred. But Lovable Girl just wasn't enough on her own. I added two more elements. 
Collage using transfer, bra straps, and game pieces
The letter tiles came from a vintage game I'd been saving for a special purpose. It took me a few days to come up with the right phrase.
For the vertical elements, I dismembered one of my hated bras. The straps look better on Lovable Girl, I think, than me. She hangs near my dresser so I can look at her every morning as I strap on the torture device - - err, I mean bra.


  1. Very fun!
    Maybe you need a bra that's a little more fun like the one I made for a weaving guild challenge. Here it is finished, if you go back a little ways you can see it in progress.

    The challenge was to sew with our handwoven fabrics and the theme was bras so we could eventually have an exhibit in October of that year for Breast Cancer Awareness........but only two of us actually made bras so no exhibit. I keep waiting for the perfect exhibit to come about that I can display it the meantime it hangs in the studio........

  2. I love it- how fun!! and btw...I hate them also and try to not contain myself as much as possible!!heehee

    1. : > My friend read this post and sent me a bra she likes -- and I like it too. Not much support but very comfortable.


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