How to transfer images to packing tape & make clear stickers & DIY photo candles for Christmas decorations, weddings, easy crafts & gifts!
Candles are such easy and versatile decorations for Christmas and any time of the year. How about some DIY personalized candle holders decorated with family photos and Christmas clip art?!
These photo candles would be beautiful as fireplace mantle, shelf or table decorations. They would also make heartwarming gifts, at a time of year when we feel extra appreciation for our family and friends.
Can you guess that these beautiful candles are almost free and so easy to make, using things you already have at home? The secret: DIY packing tape clear stickers!
Check out the video tutorial or skip to written tutorial below!
Materials you need to make photo candles with clear stickers
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
- packing tape: we have used Duck brand, HP brand and Scotch brand, they all work very well. The most common packing tapes are 1.88″ wide. For bigger labels you can get 3″ wide tape or piece together 1.88″ tape which is what we did here.
- white copy paper and printer: both inkjet and laser printer will work great.
- some recycled glass bottles, or drinking glasses like these with straight sides, and perfect size for candles like these! You can also use a set of votive candles that come with the glass.
We have an earlier tutorial on packing tape image transfer here. In this updated tutorial, we will share some improved techniques and more tips on how to transfer photos and art to packing tape, and make your own clear stickers and labels for home decorations.
How do DIY packing tape clear stickers work?
When we use packing tape to transfer images, any part of the image that is pale color, white or clear will remain sticky, and the part with ink and pigments will lose stickiness.
Therefore, make sure to leave some white space on either side of an image with lots of colors and blacks so the stickers can stay on the surface when you apply them.
Step 1: print images for your photo candles
There are many apps and free tools like Microsoft Word, Paint, Canva, etc to resize your photos and art to print on 8.5″ by 11″ paper. For these photo candle jars, I resized the images to 1.75″ – 3.5″ high depending on the jar height.
Make sure to leave some white paper on either side of each photo for better adhesion later.
You may also love: DIY vintage inspired pallet crates with easy image transfer!
Step 2: make clear stickers with packing tape
Apply a piece of tape to the image with the sticky side on the paper. If the image is bigger than the tape, you can use multiple pieces of tape. Just make sure to line up the seams as closely as you can.
Now comes the most important part: burnish the printed images onto the packing tape. Use a spoon, place the taped image on a flat surface, and use a lot of pressure to burnish both sides of the tape and paper.
Next, submerge the taped images in a bowl of clean water for at least 15 minutes. You can leave them in the water for up to a couple of hours.
Fill another bowl with clean water. Take a piece of the packing tape with paper in the first bowl, gently rub the wet paper off- don’t use your fingers nails as they might scratch the images.
Keep rinsing and rubbing the paper off in the clean water to remove the paper fibers. When the tape looks clear with the images on it, let the tape dry on a clean surface with the sticky side up.
Repeat with the next image transfer, and change water often because little pieces of paper fiber that are left on the packing tape can make the clear sticker look cloudy when dried.
Step 3: create photo candles with packing tape clear stickers
Store the dried stickers layered between clean sheets of parchment or wax paper. They will stay sticky for a long time after many uses.
They look great on glass, wood, ceramic, and most flat or cylinder surfaces.
To make personalized photo candles, just place a clear sticker onto the surface of a glass jar or candle holder.
You can also use LED candles like these and place the clear stickers directly on the faux candles!
As you can see we pieced together larger designs like this “Merry & Bright” clip art by using 2 pieces of 1.88″ wide packing tape.
You can do the same with photos, just match the seams carefully.
Helpful tips on making clear stickers & DIY photo candles
Burnishing the printed images on the packing tape with lots of pressure, and do it one both sides to make sure the images are transferred successfully onto the tape.
Keep a bowl of clean water when you remove the paper from the tape. When you rinse the tape in clean water it is easier to remove the small white paper fibers.
The fibers look almost invisible against clear glass and white, but if you want to give these candle holders as perfectly finished gifts , you might want to print directly onto clear label sheets like these and use them on the glass.