Putting an image onto a glass object—such as a glass, mason jar, mirror, or window—is a way to personalize and decorate your living space. You can transfer any type of image that has been printed from a laser printer, or that you find in a book or magazine. To transfer an image onto glass, fix adhesive packing tape to the image you’d like to transfer. Soak the image and tape in warm water, then remove the paper and stick the image onto a glass object. Alternately, you can use a gel transfer medium to move the image directly on to a glass surface.
EditApplying Tape to the Image
- Print your image on a laser printer. If the image that you want to transfer currently exists only digitally, you’ll need to print it. For best results, use only a laser printer. Do not transfer an image that has been printed from an inkjet printer.
- Alternately, you could transfer an image from a magazine page, newspaper page, or a photograph that has been developed from film.
- If you’re printing your image at a local Kinkos or other printing shop, confirm that the printer they’re using is not an inkjet.
- Place a piece of packing tape over the image. Cut off a piece of clear packing tape and apply it directly over the printed image or magazine photo. Make sure that the piece of tape completely covers the image you want to transfer.
- If your image is larger than the width of the packing tape, you won’t be able to transfer it. Re-print the image so that it’s slightly narrower than the packing tape, which is roughly .
- Smooth out the tape with the edge of a credit card. Carefully scrape the edge of a credit card along the taped image so that bubbles are worked out from the side of the tape. If there are any air bubbles caught between the paper image and the packing tape, there will be gaps in the image once it’s transferred to glass.
- If you don’t have a credit card handy, use a similar sized object, such as your driver’s license.
- Cut the image out using a pair of scissors. Begin by cutting away excess paper from the printed photo (or magazine image). Then, carefully cut out the image itself. If the image has curves or sharp angles, carefully cut around these so you’re left holding only the tape-covered image.
- If the image is square or rectangular, cutting will be relatively easy.
- If you don’t have scissors nearby, a utility knife will work as well.
EditSoaking and Transferring the Image
- Submerge the image into a glass of warm water. The water will help the image transfer onto the adhesive surface of the tape. Let the taped image soak in the warm water for 5 or 6 minutes.
- The water should be warm to the touch, but not hot. Hot water may melt or deform the tape and image.
- Rub the paper off of the back of the tape. Pull the taped image out of the water, and lay it flat on your working surface. Using your index and middle fingers, rub back and forth across the paper side until the paper rolls and flakes off of the tape.
- If the paper doesn’t rub off completely, re-submerge it in the warm water and let it soak for another 2 or 3 minutes.
- Then, pull the image out and continue rubbing off the paper.
- Blow dry your image. Once you’ve removed all of the paper, you will be left with the strip of packing tape with the image transferred onto it. Pull out a blow dryer and use it to fully dry the strip of tape. Once the tape is dry, you’ll notice that one side has become sticky again.
- If you don’t have a blow dryer, set the piece of tape flat on your work surface. Let it dry by air, which will take about 30 minutes.
- Press the adhesive side of the image firmly against your glass. You’re now ready to apply the image onto the glass. Center the tape above the glass, and lower the adhesive image until it’s resting against the glass surface. Then, using your fingers, press the tape firmly onto the glass.
- Start at the top or bottom of the tape and work your way to the other side, to avoid trapping any air bubbles under the tape.
- If you find any air bubbles once the tape is applied, smooth them out from under the tape using the edge of a credit card.
EditUsing Mod Podge Instead of Tape
- Rub a layer of gel transfer medium onto the glass. Use a craft brush to spread the transfer medium so that your fingers stay clean. Apply a generous layer of transfer medium to the section of glass that you’ll apply the image to.
- You can purchase gel transfer medium at any craft or hobby-supply store. Containers of transfer medium are typically marked “matte gel” or “Mod Podge.”
- Press the image firmly onto the glass surface. Carefully position the image over the area of glass you’d like to apply it to. Set it down onto the glass, and use your fingers to press and flatten the gel-covered image into place.
- Once you’ve pressed the image into place, avoid sliding it around on the glass surface.
- Squeegee any air bubbles out from under the image. If there are any air bubbles between the paper and glass, the image won’t transfer fully. Slide a squeegee gently over the surface of the image to press out any air bubbles.
- You can purchase a squeegee at a local hardware store.
- Let the transfer gel dry as long as the product instructions suggest. The image transfer will be ruined if you attempt to remove the paper before the gel has fully dried. If you live in a humid climate, the gel may require more than 24 hours to dry.
- The particular type of transfer gel that you use may have slightly different drying directions. Follow these directions to ensure the image transfers properly.
- Dampen the back of the paper with a sponge. Slide a dampened sponge across the back of the paper. The water will soak into the paper and allow you to rub it off of the glass.
- Make sure to wring out the damp sponge before you apply it to the photo paper. Do not use a soaking wet sponge.
- Rub your thumb in circles over the paper to remove it. Now that you’ve dampened the paper, you can remove it from the glass. Work over the surface of the paper, making small circles with your thumb to break up and loosen the paper.
- As the paper comes off, you’ll be able to see the image stuck to the glass. The Mod Podge image should remain on the glass as you finish rubbing off any remaining patches of paper.
- If you’ve transferred the image onto a drinking glass or mason jar, do not wash the glass in the dishwasher. Wash the inside using soapy water and wipe the outside of the glass using only a cloth.
- If you’re transferring an image with mod podge, be aware that the image will be reversed when transferred. This is especially important if you’re transferring text. Be sure to “mirror” the words in your word processing program before printing them.
EditThings You’ll Need
EditFor a Tape Transfer
- Packing tape
- Credit card
- Glass of warm water
- Blow dryer
EditFor a Mod Podge Transfer
- Photo transfer medium
- Craft brush