Photo Transfer

May 12, 2009

This tutorial came out in Cloth Paper Scissor’s Embellishments yesterday – thought you might like to see it too.
By Lyric Kinard
There are many wonderful photo transfer techniques out there, all fun and useful. Here is a very low-tech and inexpensive option to add to your techniques for when you just need a little instant gratification. I demonstrate this one in my new QA Workshop DVD, Click here to buy now!
Summer 2009 StudiosMaterials:

  • Citra-Solve® — an orange-based cleaning solvent (I buy it at Whole Foods.)
  • Cotton ball
  • Metal spoon
  • Non-porous smooth surface (I use glass or my countertop.)
  • Masking tape
  • Fabric of your choice

1. Find a fun image of your favorite person or pet. Or even an Art piece.
2. Make a photocopy of the photo, sizing it no larger than 5″ x 7″.
3. Cut away the background and make another photocopy of the image.
4. Draw in any lines that need emphasis or add any fun scribbles you like. Maybe Grandma always wanted a tiara or your puppy looks great in polka dots!
5. Make a final photocopy. (Note: Laser and inkjet prints don’t work with this method.)
6. Tape a clean piece of fabric to your non-porous surface; stretch it tight.
7. Trim the photocopy so it has 1″ of paper around it; tape it face-down on your fabric.
8. Use the cotton ball to dampen (not soak) the back of the paper with Citra-Solve; you’ll see the image show through the paper.
9. With the back of the metal spoon, rub, rub, rub like crazy in all directions. You are moving the ink from the paper to the fabric.
10. Pick up just one corner of the paper and peek to see how the transfer is working. You can put the paper back down and rub some more in any places that haven’t transferred yet.
11. Toss the paper in the trash and let the solvent evaporate.

Citra-solv: is a household solvent/degreaser. It is a non-toxic replacement for petroleum products. I’ve used paint stripper and you can also use laquer thinner or acetone for the technique but both are very toxic. Take great care and work outside, preferably with a ventilator.
Photocopies: Go to Kinkos, the library, wherever you can find a machine that uses toner rather than ink. You could try a laser printer. Mine (and old lexmark) uses a carbon toner that will work. You can take a small container with Citra-solv in it with you to the center to test a copy. Some machines work and some don’t. You can try transferring a copy to another piece of paper. If you are not getting any transfer right away as you rub it – it’s not working.
The question most people have is where to get Citra-Solv. Here is the company site
I’m told it is available at Lee Valley in Canada.


  • Reply
    June 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    hey jmb – if you're out there somewhere – send your address to and I'll send you an ATC too!


  • Reply
    May 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I really appreciate all of you commenting – and I think I’ll just send each of you an ATC for the fun of it.

    I’ll be teaching this weekend – so hope to get them out to you all some time next week.

    Please send me your addresses so that I can do so!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Citra-solv is available in the UK from and

  • Reply
    Beth Wheeler
    May 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Lyric, I just posted a tutorial on my blog for transferring inkjet print and toner photocopy images using Earth Safe Finishes’ Hand and Brush Cleaner. The Cleaner is no-VOC, so is earth-friendly and artist friendly for those who chemically sensitive. The transfer isn’t as crisp and sharp as yours, but are perfect for dreamy or grunge effects in art quilts or mixed-media work.

  • Reply
    Carol Sloan
    May 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I love using a product called “Sheer Heaven”. You print on it with your printer then use regular (70%)rubbing alcohol to transfer the image. It is WONDERFUL! There is a web site ,, to purchase. Not sure if she ships outside of US but you could check. Love your work Lyric! I am a long time blog follower. Can’t wait to see the DVD!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I printed the instruction from the CPS email, gathered my images, stopped at Whole Foods for a
    Citrus based cleaning agent and I am so going to try this.

    Pretty lovely art here, BTW

  • Reply
    May 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I have successfully done transfers with Citrasolve with prints from my eleven year old HP Laserjet printer. Said printer also works great for thermofaxes! I will be very sad when it finally decides to give up the ghost!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    To be a little more explicit, Citra-solv is made with Orange oil, but there are currently several cleaners on the market which also use citrus oils. Another one is De-Solv-it, but I’d also bet that some “Pledge” products or other surface cleaners carry it. Look for “essential citrus oils” as being the main or highest ingredient.

    Perhaps this would help non-USA folks… 🙂

  • Reply
    May 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Hey I like the CitraSolve idea as I have always done this with TURPENTINE!

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