We strongly recommend that, if you haven't already, you read our page on the Letraset Type Lettering system BEFORE you read the following instructions. It will make it easier to see what we're dealing with, & there is a link at the bottom of that page to return you here once you've read it.
Waterslide Letraset is printed on a laminated sheet whose base holds a strip-off layer of gummed tissue upon which the letter is printed.
Using a sharp blade & a metal ruler, score under each line of letters. This is to cut through the top tissue layer holding the transfers, but not through the underlying sheet as well. The aim of pre-scoring is not only to make it easy to remove letters when needed, but also to prevent the whole sheet from curling up under "unfavourable atmospheric conditions".
Running your blade along the score with the tip under the tissue layer will lift up the bottom portion of the transfers.
This will mean the letters are ready to peel off & place on the Carrier Frame.
This helps to keep the letters from flapping about.
Letraset do not recommend putting letters from their sheet anywhere other than on the Carrier Frame, but we were impatient.
Note that the Carrier Frame is upside-down (as it should be).
Again, Letraset suggest you peel each letter off with the blade & place it on the frame in one fell swoop, but we felt more confident removing the letters before transferring them to the Carrier Frame.
I can see Letraset's point that working on one letter at a time helps with accuracy in letter spacing, but we couldn't resist putting the whole word on the frame at once. Although quicker, with hindsight this was probably a mistake…
Here, we are adjusting the letter spacing actually on the frame. Normally, the adjustment would take place as each letter is placed in turn on the artwork.
Splish splash splosh with the brush. The letters need to soak for about a minute.
They should slide off really easily, leaving the transfers behind on the frame.
Turn the Carrier Frame the right way up, & place the lettering over the artwork in the required position. You can see why, at this stage, it would be advantageous to work on letters one at a time; you get more control over individual placement. It makes sense, since you can see the letters that have already been placed through the screen, & so adjustments can be made in the air before splashdown. Our way is more photogenic — but don't let that influence you!
A gentle push with the fingers will help the letters transfer from the frame to the recipient surface.
Obviously you need to be quite gentle when removing the frame from the artwork, & keep an eye out for any letter (or portions of letter) that may have decided not to leave home without a struggle. If that should happen, carefully replace the Carrier Frame in exactly the same place & try persuading the recalcitrant letters once again.
This is the point at which any final adjustments can be made, using a wet brush or a blunt instrument. Hopefully, if you try this you won't get your artwork quite as damp as we did…
When drying the artwork, use dabbing rather than brushing movements, so as not to disturb the positioning or damage the lettering. If there is any gum residue, you should be able to remove it with damp blotting paper.
Here it is, in all its chaotic glory. As a footnote, Letraset say:
"In cases where water will seriously affect artwork blot through the silk from opposite side of letter."
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — Photography by Tom Vinelott at Triplica.com.
Model: Lisa Cole.
© Tom Vinelott 2023