ALAMEDA -- The Alameda Art Association featured local artist Gil Garitano as artist of the month Feb. 14 during its initial Second Friday Art Walk.
Garitano is also the Art Association's director and an accomplished painter in techniques such as oil, acrylic, airbrush, graphite and watercolor. He can now wear another hat in addition to his trademark French beret -- that of inventor and patent holder of a new art technique called sublimation. Garitano has taken the process Dupont created with its Corian invention and applied it to print making.
"During the early 1960s, Dr. Don Slocum invented and patented something we all know as Corian," Garitano said. "One day, after many experiments using the Corian surface, I decided to call him. He said this process was his grandbaby and was delighted that I found another use for it.
"Sublimation has been used before to transfer images onto coffee mugs, tiles, anything coated with ceramic, porcelain or hardboard," he continued. "But my process is completely different. I have found a way to actually open the pores of the Corian while it is extremely heated, so that the inks and dyes flow into them and are then sealed permanently when submerged into cool water."
He demonstrated this process by using a type of printing press that rises to 378 degrees and prints in about 2½ minutes. Garitano used a reproduction of Michelangelo's "Creation" on a small sample piece of Corian, pressed it at the 378 degrees, then submerged it into room-temperature water. The printed reproduction was perfect.
"Dupont's process with Corian could never create an actual image," he said. "They could only create striations in the Corian. Now with my new product, any image can be reproduced on virtually any surface."
He proved this by reproducing beautiful images of his favorite public domain artists onto canvas and wood surfaces as well as making the Corian appear to be different types of wood, various grains of marble and images on tile. He even made the Corian surface appear to be tile without using grout.
As part of his demonstration, Garitano shared the various types of art uses as well as interior design uses for his new product. Each sublimated image could be cut and trimmed for framing quite easily. He was able to use a high gloss or matte surface on all the images printed into the Corian.
"Usually in 16 months to one year something like this fades, but with this new technique of print making, nothing even fades," he said. "If I decide to bend the Corian, it stays that way forever. This whole process took me many years of experimenting for many nights. I think my neighbors wondered what I was doing all those nights alone in my backyard studio, but I had to find that perfect temperature because I knew I had a perfect recipe."
Each piece is waterproof and heat-resistant, making them perfect for kitchen and bath design, and can even be used as flooring.
The Alameda Art Association gallery is host to some 40-plus artists who paint in oil, acrylic, watercolor, graphite, pastels, giclee, glass work, ceramics, jewelry, handmade textiles, photography, print making and various types of handmade cards and mugs. The gallery is at 2242 South Shore Center, next to See's Candies. Hours are from noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and from 6 to 9 p.m. every second Friday. For more information, call 510-523-4475.