( UPDATE: some of you sent questions about colored image transfers, or why their previous projects were cloudy or not sticking. I have 5 super helpful tips for you at the end!!)
Quiz: what can you use packing tape for, besides packing?
So excited to share with you today a really cool image transfer technique on how to turn packing tape into great looking clear labels and stickers!
Just think about all the ways you could use these beautiful stickers: pantry labels, gift tags, decorative touches on glass, wood or metal objects…
UPDATE: we just created another variation of this project on how to make photo candles, plus a video tutorial!
* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .
Today’s packing tape image transfer is a bit different. The images will be transferred onto the packing tape which can be used just like a clear sticker, with your own custom designs!
Materials and tools:
- Packing tape. I tested different brands and the heavier duty ones gave much better results than thin tape. I used the Duck brand tape like these here.
- inkjet printer and standard office paper
- NOTE: there are actually printable clear label sheets you can use to make labels. The purpose of this project is that packing tape is easier to find in many parts of the world, and it is just a quick way to make some fun stickers!
Print images on paper. Take into consideration the width of the tape,
I will show you a trick at the end on how to make larger labels!
Take a piece of tape, press the sticky side onto an image, center the packing tape over it evenly and press. Then cut out the section.
Here’s a REALLY IMPORTANT part of the image transfer process: burnish the piece using the back of a spoon and make sure to cover all the printed areas. The more pressure you can apply to the tape and image the better result you will get!
Drop the piece into a bowl of room temp water. Let them soak for at least 5 minutes.
I find it much easier to let them soak for an hour. Then the paper just peel of really easily, leaving you with a beautiful image on the packing tape!
You may also love this image transfer project that has become a reader favorite: here’s the tutorial on how to transfer images to wood and make vintage-inspired pallet crates.
Use these pieces just like a sticker.
These stickers not only look great on glass, but also on wood!
So what happens when you want a larger sticker, like the gorgeous grain sack label on the big jar above?
I have tried overlapping the tape, and did not like how it looked.
As you can see, although each of the butterflies will fit on a piece of tape, the large grain sack label won’t.
Here’s a trick to work around the limitations.
Cut the larger design into smaller pieces, apply tape on each piece. After you make the smaller labels, assemble them back together into the original design.
Doesn’t this clear label ( or “these labels” ) look gorgeous on a jar of whole wheat flour? Can’t even tell it was pieced together!
Here are a few tips to help you get the best results.
I have mentioned some of them earlier, but it is worth mentioning again:
- I tested different brands of tape and the heavier duty ones gave much better results than thin tape, which can lose the stickiness and get cloudy . A reader also shared that the packing tape from post office loses stickiness. I used the Duck brand tape like these here.
- Color images will transfer using the same method. Magazines will transfer also! However, the magazine paper will cause the tape to lose the stickiness no matter which kind of tape you use!
- Burnish the piece using as much pressure as you can apply to the tape and image. You will get much better image transfer this way!
- Images with lots of contrasts, such pen and ink drawings will look better than images with subtle shades, such as the photo of a forest.
- Soaking the tape and paper longer, about one hour, will make it easier to peel, and the stickers will look cleaner.
Related article: How to make beautiful no-bake Sharpie art bowls.