Packing Tape Transfer Time!

Lara here!
….and here is a pretty quick and painless tutorial on packing tape transfers.
A video will be coming soon – but i thought maybe you’d want to get started faster than i can learn iMovie 🙂

These transfers are pretty fun and effective!

First off you need the image you want to transfer and the packing tape.

Tips on Image selection:
• You need to use anything that came off of a laser printer/copier or magazine – anything that is water soluble will not work (like inkjet prints). If you have any question whether it is water soluble wet a tiny corner of the image and if it doesn’t smear than you are cool.
• Remember anything white or light colored on the image will become transparent, anything dark will remain somewhat opaque – i like to use things with alot of contrast.

Tips on Packing Tape selection
• Unfortunately, this is one of the times you shouldn’t skimp on the quality. I’ve tried the super cheap packing tapes and they might as well be tissue paper when it’s all said and done. You want something more substantial and heavy

To get the image ready for the tape i have found adhering the image to a surface is fail-safe. Otherwise you risk some static cling issues with the tape creating air bubbles or creases. I use an artist masking tape that removes easily. Also it’s best to leave some extra room around the image – i.e. don’t crop anything until after the tape has been applied

We’re ready now to apply the tape carefully – the image i chose is too big for one piece of tape, so i had to use two which i will then piece together. Try not to overlap the edges of the tape. You’ll also notice on the above image air bubbles – use your fingers to smooth all of these out so the most amount of tape is touching the image.

Next submerge the image with the tape on it into water. Nothing fancy, no temperature seems to be better than any other.
Soak for about 10-15 minutes (if the paper doesn’t remove easily it’s not fully done).

I think this is my favorite part! It’s time to remove the paper from the tape! At this point the image is pretty firmly on the tape so you don’t have to be too gentle about removing the paper. Rub, tug, peel and rub some more until it appears most of the paper has been removed. You might have to wet the tape a few times in this process to re-moisten the paper for removal. But, this is where you can start seeing your transfer come to life!

puuurrrtttyyyyyyyy (*nods*)

By putting it back in the water you can see what paper has been left and still needs to come off. Somehow the surface of the tape will be sticky again so it’s harder to get this stubborn paper – it’s up to you whether you want to work on it or leave as is. Sometimes you can get a cool grungy look, sometimes the sheet you are applying it to won’t even show the excess paper because of the colors under it.

The carnage – this photo shows all the paper i removed from the back of the image, a paper napkin i used to wipe excess water off the tape after the paper had been removed and that i like to use wax paper under my work – water doesn’t leak through it, because this process is a bit messy.

Time to adhere to your material! I’ve been really loving to work with sheet music (available soon at our artfire store!) And since the tape remains sticky there is no reason to use adhesive under it!

If you have multiple pieces of tape forming your image, you may need to position and reposition a couple of times – so don’t press hard to adhere the tape to your paper until you are sure that’s where you want it.

This photo shows that the tape isn’t completely transparent once applied to the transferee surface – you’ll be able to see the edge of it, but with some creativity this is pretty easy to hide 🙂 Also another warning on this method is that since it is tape, there may be some glossy glare on it from different angles. Depending on the project and your level of pickiness it may or may not be an issue 🙂

Closeups of how transparent it really becomes!

And a project i recently made using this method (also showcased here)

i would ADORE seeing your creations using this technique! Comment here or post to our Gauche Alchemy Flickr Group! If you have any questions or problems with this technique feel free to contact me! Always up for talking shop – 1lara1 at gmail dot com.

Happy taping : happy creating!


10 Responses

  1. oooh, wonderful-haven’t done this for awhile and went looking for something I could use{I have an ink-jet printer}, to get around that… I remembered some vintage wall paper that I had printed out on my ink-jet and then went to FedEx/Kinko’s and color-copied it. Fast Forward to today and I just got done rubbing off the back and now that piece is attached to some music. YAY! YAY!! YAY!!!

  2. Very, very cool, Lara. Hmm, maybe it was the cheap packing tape I used before that made it so frustrating for me?! lol.

  3. This is a great tutorial! Thanks for the tape buying tips too, can’t wait to try this!

  4. Maggi & Nina – i really think the quality of the packing tape has alot to do with it – hopefully you can try again with better results!

    joyce – exactly – kinkos, staples, office depot or any copy shop has laser printers for copying or printing out files 🙂 have you tried the inkjet transparency method of image transfer? i haven’t but its on my list….

  5. I don’t know if I have or not? I sometimes just grab an item and if it works it works and forget to right what I did down. = )

  6. For big pictures I use clear sticky back plastic-(fablon in the UK) if I don’t want joins. I like to overlap packing tape too-I like the lines through the image. The important thing is to burnish the image well to the tape before soaking.

  7. Hi. I just noticed that your website looks like it has a few code problems at the very top of your site’s page. I’m not sure if everybody is getting this same problem when browsing your website? I am employing a totally different browser than most people, referred to as Opera, so that is what might be causing it? I just wanted to make sure you know. Thanks for posting some great postings and I’ll try to return back with a completely different browser to check things out!

  8. […] a little gesso on, a packing tape transfer quote, some silly, but cute as heck, doodads and voila – something that makes me […]

  9. […] In the lefthand corner are lyrics from a favorite Muse song, Invincible, that are a packing tape transfer. […]

  10. […] you have yet to try this out, we have two tutorials you can check out: Lara did a tutorial a couple of months ago about this most delightful technique. And Kas did a lovely tutorial a couple […]

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