Since early man began sketching bison on his cave walls around
32,000 years ago, we have been struggling with the same issues of how
to get an image onto a surface. Sure, drawing is one way, but
what if you already have the image on a piece of paper? Enter
21st century: There are now many ways to transfer
images. Here are some of the best for the crafter:
matte gel medium. Transfer medium is a thick
acrylic glue. Its image transfer properties are most
effective with photocopies and not with ink jet prints. There
are two ways to use it:
As a decal
Photocopy your image normally on plain
paper (the image will slide onto your surface face up). Don't use heavy photo paper.
Brush on three coats of transfer medium,
and diagonally, letting it dry between each coat.
Trim around the image.
Soak image in water for 20 minutes.
Lay it face down on a smooth surface and gently
use your finger to roll away the paper backing. When the
paper is off, remove the remaining paper residue with a soft cloth.
Let it dry.
Affix the image decal to a surface with
decoupage medium or more transfer medium.
As direct transfer
Photocopy the image in reverse on
plain paper (the image will be rubbed on to your surface face down). You can also use transparency film for ink jet
Trim away the excess paper, leaving a little
"lifting tab" somewhere
Brush a heavy coat of transfer medium onto the
image (avoiding your tab).
Position the image face down on your surface.
Bend the tab up.
With a brayer, rolling pin or bone burnisher,
apply heavy, even pressure to the back of the image.
Let it rest for a full minute.
Using the tab, peel back the paper a little.
If the image is not fully transferred, apply more pressure
with the brayer. Let it rest another minute and peel off the
Let it dry.
decal paper. This special paper allows you to transfer
images to a surface by first printing them on a waterslide decal.
Although there are several manufacturers, the grandfather is Lazertran.
Their original paper worked with toner-based photocopies and laser
printers (hence their name). Now, their growing market is
home inkjet printers so they developed a paper just for those. Whatever the brand of decal paper you choose, the process
Print the image on the treated side of the
paper. Your printer should be set to "normal" or "plain
paper" to avoid too much inking.
Allow the ink to dry for 30 minutes.
Trip the excess paper from around the image.
Soak the paper in water for about a minute,
until the decal releases from the backing sheet.
Slide the decal onto your surface. It
will adhere to a non-absorbent surface like glass or ceramics.
On an absorbent surface like paper, wood or fabric, you need
to affix it with glue.
There is a cool variation for absorbent surfaces like wood, where you
actually melt the decal with turpentine, leaving the image fused to the
Soak the image in water and remove the paper
backing. Let the image dry on some wax paper.
Paint the wood with turpentine (paint thinner
or mineral spirits will not work).
Apply the dry decal on the wood and smooth out
Let dry for several hours.
The image will dry with a white background.
To make the background transparent, apply several
coats of oil-based varnish.
transfer. Yes, the process for iron-on transfers
for fabric will work on a solid surface too, resulting in a somewhat
glossy rendition of your image. Follow the instructions from Transferring
Images To Fabric but just iron it on to your surface.
This works on photocopies (and newsprint), not ink jet
prints. You can transfer onto wood, paper, cloth or metal.
Glass and ceramic, not so good. The final result is
a misty version of your original image, charmingly rustic.
You need a Xylene-based blender pen, which is used for
blending felt-marker ink. They are available at art-supply
Photocopy your image. The transfer
will be reversed on your surface, so if you want the image unreversed,
or you have text, have it photocopied in reverse or mirror-image.
the photocopy face down on the surface. Tape it in place.
the blender pen to the back of the image with long, overlapping
strokes. The image will become visible through the paper.
the image with a bone folder or wooden spoon.
you are working on a large image, work in sections.
it dry for a few minutes, then remove the paper.