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Photograms are contact prints made by exposing light-sensitive photographic paper to a light source while objects cover part of the paper, then developing. Here's a variation using heat instead of light.

Just the fax: You will need heat sensitive paper. To get it look no further than a fax machine. Newer-generation fax machines use ink cartridges and plain paper. Skip those, and find an older model which uses the standard roll paper.

These thermal fax machines create images by subjecting the paper to heat, one tiny point at a time. For this project, whereever heat is applied, the paper turns black.

Heat sources: Part of this learning process is figuring out how different heat sources react differently with the paper. Some possibilities are hair dryers, irons, electric griddles, cups of hot water, soldering irons, curling irons and heat lamps.

Objet d'art: Heat sources alone can be used to create visually interesting pictures. But, you can go a step further by using miscellaneous objects placed on the paper while heating in various way. Variations include heating the paper while an object rests on the paper, or heating the object itself, then placing on the paper.

Instant gratification: The results of heating fax paper are nearly instantaneous, depending on the temperature of the heat source, meaning there's no time spent baking or developing. Remember fax paper will fade over time, and the process is accelerated by exposure to bright light.


A Quick Look At:
Fax Machines

It wasn't that long ago fax machines were a luxury. I saw one of the older technology ones in the 70's. Paper was placed in a spinning drum, while a scanning "eye" slowly worked its way across the drum from end to end, taking several minutes to do what now takes 30 seconds.

Now, of course, they are everywhere... required equipment for businesses and even many homes. Either standalone models or built into computers, they can be a quick way to reach next door or halfway around the world with a short phone call.

An alternative to penpals or epals (the internet equivalent), consider using faxes for classroom to classroom communication.

Another artsy project involves faxing artwork to another machine, deconstructing it by cutting it up and/or manipulating it with a photocopier, then faxing it back. The more generations of faxes, the more it breaks down. Sometimes sharp and clean isn't necessarily better.