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How to do Polaroid Transfers

Updated on March 23, 2012

Polaroid transfers can be quite tricky, but if they are done correctly the result can be absolutely beautiful! The most important step is that the type of film you buy for the Polaroid must be the kind that you can pull apart. Some films are very tightly sealed and that just will not do! The common type for that is the Polaroid 669. Another crucial step, is that all of this must be done in a timely manner. After you pull out the film from being developed, wait anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds making sure that you have developed your picture to a satsifactory quality. Now there are two layers or sides to your photograph one being the picture (the positive) and one being the negative. Do not let these two touch! I repeat do not let these two touch! With the positive image, you can just throw out; it is the negative piece that we are interested in.

Before moving on, I have just a little side note. Make sure that before beginning all of this that you have the paper that you want to transfer onto ready to be worked with! The best type of paper to transfer onto is 140 pound watercolor paper, but there are plenty of different materials though that make great mixed media surfaces. Another element of the project will be hot water to do the transfer with; so make sure that you have a cup of hot water on hand. It does not have to be painfully scortching but the hotter the better!

Alright, back to the process! Place the negative image face down onto your paper or material where you would like the transfer process to take place. Place pressure onto your negative piece. It is probably best to do this with a book or something other than your hand. It has to sit for about 20 minutes, so your hand might get a little tired! Also, this will be a great time for you to go and heat up some water for the next step! After the twenty minutes have passed you will take your hot water into action! Pour the hot water on top and around the edges of your negative piece, and then gently peel the picture back from the paper. Now allow the transfer to dry! And ta-da you have a beautiful Polaroid transfer.

Some of you might be wondering how to transfer polaroids that were not immediately just taken. Maybe you have an old shoe box of photos that you would like to utilize. The best way is to scan these polaroids into a computer and flip the image in photoshop or some other type of editing program and print them out on an inkjet printer on standard printing paper.

To transfer images from printer paper is quite easy and kind of fun! The best transfer liquid to use is that of Citra Solv! Citra Solv is a cleaning product that moonlights as an art tool! If you cannot find Citra Solv other degreasers work as well. I have personally used products such as 409. Place the paper face down onto your material. Pour some Citra Solv into a little bowl and have a paint brush handy! You will then paint the Citra Solv onto the back of the picture. Make sure to do this in small sections and do not paint the whole backside of your picture at once! Why you ask? The Citra Solv drys quite quickly and you must work while it is still semi-fresh on the page! Paint a small section and wait for about 10 seconds. At this point, it will have dried some but it will possess some wet molecules that will allow the process to work! Now you need something with a flat surface such as a button (like campaign buttons not the kind of buttons that hold your shirt together!) or anything really that has a decent sized even planed surface. You will use this surface to rub the area that you painted (with a decent amount of force). The transfer process has begun! Just continue to repeat this process until you have completely transferred your image! Also a quick tip is that it helps to tape down a couple sides of your printer paper so that it will not slide around and mess up the placement of your photo; unless you are going for that aesthetic of course!

I hope all of this was helpful! Happy transferring!


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    • dappledesigns profile image

      dappledesigns 5 years ago from In Limbo between New England and the Midwest

      Excellent - thank you! I just asked for information on how to do this not too long ago. Great hub and now I have my project for this weekend :)