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Packing Tape Image Transfers

Transferring images from one surface to another can be a fun project for you and the kids.

These are easy. These are inexpensive. These are quickly done. What more can you ask for just a fun project? The kids should love this one, too.

The idea here is nothing new but it is certainly a popular idea. Take a picture printed on paper (magazine, calendar, old book, etc.) and transfer it to another surface. We’ve done it in a variety of ways, but this is the quickest. We use packing tape. Of course, the very size of the tape--less than 3 inches in width--will obviously limit the size of the picture you can use, but you will be amazed at how many small and interesting pictures there are out there. And photographs are perfect. Just remember to make sure they are not the original photographs; you need to soak the paper off of the back, and snapshot paper won’t budge. Have it copied first. And if you simply MUST transfer a larger picture, use a laminating sheet instead of the tape. Just remember that the plastic tape or laminating sheet will cover the picture, so it’s not good to transfer to fabric.


small pictures
inexpensive transparent packing tape
bone folder
bowl of water
freezer paper
gel medium
item to transfer picture to: bookends, stones, candle, canvas photo frame, etc.


1. Select picture. Magazine pictures are probably the very best because the paper is so lightweight. Glossy pictures don’t work as well as matte ones. Place tape over picture (figure A).

2. Cut any excess tape so none is hanging over the edge of the picture. Burnish the tape to the picture so there is a smooth solid bond (figure C). No air bubbles.

3. Place picture in a bowl of room-temperature water (figure D). Wait anywhere from one to 10 minutes. The longer the soaking, the easier the paper can be removed.

4. Remove picture from water and place wrong side up on freezer-wrap-protected countertop. Start to gently rub to remove the paper. When all of the paper has been removed, the picture will have transferred to the tape and is now ready to be transferred to another surface (figure F).

5. In some cases there will be enough adhesive from the tape to allow it to adhere without further glue. If not, use gel medium as the adhesive. Pictures can be used to decorate book ends, stones, candles, etc.
Remember, you will be dealing with a transparency once the paper is removed, so the color of the item it is transferred to will show through. It should be white or light colored. You can paint the item if necessary.

Also, if you select a picture with a lot of white in it, you will usually not know ahead of time if the white in the picture is the white of the paper it is printed on or white ink. If it is white ink, it will transfer. If it is the white of the paper, it will be removed when you remove the paper (figure G).

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