Packing Tape Transfers

I recently heard someone mention “Packing Tape Transfers” in passing on an internet list.  It seemed assumed that everyone knew what that was, but I had never heard of it.  After some googling, I figured out the basic principle (which is very simple!) and began experimenting.  This is the sort of craft I love because it’s easy, I already had all of the materials needed, and the result can be used in many different ways.

The materials:

Packing tape and magazines

I read in a few places that you should use pages from good quality magazines, but I’m not really sure what that means.  Some that were very glossy that I would have thought were high quality didn’t do as well as some that were more matte made out of recycled paper. I also successfully made one out of a cartoon on very low quality newsprint and another from an image on my power bill.  All I can really recommend is to experiment and see what happens.  You really won’t be out much if an image fails.

First, find an image you like and cover it with packing tape.  This image is from an ad in Mary Jane’s Farm magazine, which happens to make very nice transfers.  The packing tape is just regular old packing tape available everywhere.  I’ve used two different brands and both worked fine.

Next, trim the paper to match the tape and smooth down really well.  I use a combination of pressing with my fingers and also passing over it a couple of times with my grocery store club card:

Next, put the images in a dish of water.  I read all different lengths of time, from 15 minutes to an hour.  I usually leave them soaking for half  an hour or so.

The next step is my favorite part.  Gently rub off the paper from the back.  I usually do this one time and then soak it in fresh water and go over it one more time.  Some papers almost dissolve and others take a bit more work.

And finished- You can see how translucent the finished image is.

I usually give them one final rinse and then allow them to dry spread out on a dish towel.  Sometimes when they are dry there may still be little bits of paper and sometimes I re-soak them and other times I leave it as it doesn’t seem to make that much difference.  Sometimes there is still just a bit of stickiness on the transfers, so I store them in a single layer and then roll them up in wax paper.

Here is a recent batch:

These can now be used in a variety of ways- glue them to paper, use them in scrapbooks, cover a journal with them, or as my current plan is, sew them to something else.  I’m participating in a postcard exchange and plan to layer these with some of my hand-dyed fabrics and stitch them all together.  I made a sample out of a transfer I didn’t particularly love to make sure it would work.  In this sample, I sewed the transfer to a piece of muslin that I’d bonded to a piece of heavy interfacing (Peltex).

If I like my final results and end up going with this for the postcard exchange (organized by ihanna’s lovely blog), I’ll post them here.  And if I go a completely different way for my postcards, I’ll post that here, too :).

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12 Comments

  1. March 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Those look like so much fun! I am going to have to try…

  2. Jaci said,

    March 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    OHHHHHHH COOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL Note to self; put on Grocery list: packing tape, horse magazines. I am SO going to try this!!!

    Thanks Karyn!

  3. March 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    […] read about these on my friend, Karyn’s blog over at Hinzpired.  You can read how to do them on Karyn’s blog in […]

  4. March 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    […] 2011 at 3:03 pm (Crafts, Recycled Arts and Crafts, Sewing) I mentioned in my last post about making packing tape transfers that I thought I might use them in a postcard swap from ihanna’s blog.  Very frequently, when […]

  5. Andria said,

    March 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Your transfers look beautiful. If you want a larger size transfer, try using clear contact paper. I have made some really pretty transfers that way.

  6. TJ said,

    April 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Cool, I’ve done gel medium transfers before and I forgot they can be done with tape too. This is probably way easier and less messy for images that are small enough to fit inside the constraints of the tape!! Great post. Thanks for sharing, tj

  7. April said,

    April 9, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Okay, these are completely awesome! Gonna have to try this :)

  8. maureenc said,

    June 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I’m about to start cutting up my Sub tropical Gardening magazines!
    And I hope you don’t mind if I place a link to this on my Blog??

  9. June 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    […] So without further ado, here’s the link: […]

  10. meta said,

    June 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Thanks!

  11. January 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    […] picked up a packing tape transfer (I made several after reading about the project on another blog by a friend). I looked at the old […]

  12. September 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    […] packing tape transfers might be a good addition to this project. (I posted the how-to’s of packing tape transfers awhile ago, and one way I used them.) In the past, I have used found images from magazines but for […]


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