Monday, March 08, 2004

Technique - Making Packing Tape Image Transfers

I'm working on some pages for a new altered book project. The theme is "time," any aspect. I'll start with an obvious image -- watches -- and see where the creative process leads me.

Recently, there was a question about how to make packing tape image transfers, posted to the alteredbooks list on Yahoo! Groups. I decided to make transfers of watch images found in magazines just to answer that question.

What are these image transfers good for? They look great glittered or gilded from behind, suspended in a greeting card window, or slipped into a slide mount tacked on a page. ~ Article by Kim M. Bayne

Materials & Tools List
· Popular Magazines or Other Publications with Glossy Paper Stock and Plenty of Photographs
· Roll of Clear Packing Tape, like Scotch 3750 Box Sealing Tape
· Aluminum Cookie Sheet
· Spoon, Bone Folder or Burnishing Tool
· Scissors, like Armada Velvet Touch Scissors
· Plastic Dish Pan
· Plain Ol' Tap Water

The Steps

1. Tear pictures out of unwanted magazines. I selected the monochromatic image of a Rolex watch, found in an ad running in Travel & Leisure magazine.

2. Trim close to and around the image you wish to transfer. I like using the Armada Velvet Touch Scissors because they're comfortable to hold.

3. Tear packing tape off the roll in strips about 8 to 12 inches long. Roll back the ends to affix to an aluminum cookie sheet, with the sticky side facing up. Now both of your hands are free to work. Sometimes I just tell my hubby to hold the tape for me so he "sticks" around to see what I'm doing (pun intended).

4. Place the image side of your clipping face down onto the sticky side of the tape.

5. Burnish the image (rub the back of a spoon or other tool over the back of the picture) to adhere it securely to the tape.

6. Here's a neat trick: fold a half inch of the tape back onto itself (to form a tab) then put the tape piece back on the tape roll. Now burnish the image without worrying about it sticking to your tools. When you're done, lift the "tab" you made and remove the tape piece from the roll easily.

7. Put a few inches of tap water into a plastic dish pan. Place your tape in the water (paper and sticky side face down). Walk away and do something else.

8. After the tape has soaked a bit, gently rub the paper off the back of the image using your finger.

9. When you've removed most of the paper, you will see that the ink has adhered to the tape.

10. Your images are now ready to use in a project of your choice. By the way, the sticky side of the tape should still work, if you want to stick the transfer directly on an altered book page or other paper project.

Project Tips
· Glossy pubs seem to work best and have the best clarity after transferring.
· You can use color or black/white images -- both work for this image transfer technique.
· Trim close around your image. If you forget to trim any of the background, it could show up in the finished transfer. I left some background around the larger watch image so now I have a bit of green surrounding the watch outline.
· Before soaking, peek at the glossy side of the tape under a strong light and at an angle to check for bubbles or gaps between the tape and the image. Burnish again until these are gone.
· Soaking Times: For thin paper, check back in about 10 minutes. For thick paper, you may need a little longer. I often let my tape soak overnight and forget about it. The paper comes off easier when I do that, but I have to admit sometimes the tape curls.
· After soaking the tape, avoid rubbing the paper too hard or you might damage your transferred image and be unhappy with the results.
· The Armada Velvet Touch Scissors have Teflon on them, so when you trim your final transferred image, the packing tape won't stick to the blades.

Product Resource Guide
· Buy Armada Velvet Touch Scissors at
· Project photos taken with a 5.0 MP resolution KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera

Article Description: Learn how to make quick and inexpensive image transfers with easy-to-find packing tape.

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