How to do a packing tape transfer

How to do a packing tape transferHave you heard of packing tape transfers before? I first learned to make these from our mom, who was our art teacher growing up (both in school and at home!). This is SO much fun. It’s also surprisingly easy and beautiful for both art journals and artsy DIY wall decor. 

packing tape

That’s it! 

2Step One: Adhere a piece of packing tape to a magazine page. Cover any area you want to transfer. For larger surfaces, use multiple pieces of tape. 

3Step Two: Remove the paper around the piece of tape. I usually just rip any excess away, creating imperfect edges. 

4Step Three: Soak your tape in a cup of water for five minutes. This is the easiest way I’ve found to remove the paper quickly. 

5Step Four: After five minutes of soaking, use your fingers to rub the paper away from the tape. It will peel off, leaving a beautiful, imperfect transfer. 

How to do a packing tape transfer Done and done! Let them dry, and then mount them on white paper to see the images most clearly. Aren’t they pretty? I can’t wait to start my next art journal. 

How to do a packing tape transfer Here they are taped to a window. I love how they look with the light shining through them. Happy crafting! xo. Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

  • am loving this! have a frosted broom window that does not give enough privacy & gets the western sun, do you think it would work on this window? Have never been good a trying new projects like this Thanks

  • Wow, what a fantastic idea! I’ve never heard of it before! BTW, I love your site, it is amazing! I live and work as a teacher in China and have also introduced my students to your site full of brilliant ideas!

  • Thanks for the fun and helpful tutorial! I just started reading a book about different types of images transfers, so I was thrilled to see your description of the packing tape method.

  • Just found a way to use up all the old bits of Christmas wrapping paper…time to get creative and thrifty!

  • I’ve done this before, and I don’t know if it’s the tape I used or what, but when I got the paper off, and the tape dried, it was still sticky enough to stick to a window or mirror with it’s own sticky. Sorry, I don’t know what kind of tape, except I buy the big rolls that go in the big tape guns. I think it may have been some generic stuff I got from viking office supplies, since at one time I had a case of that.

  • Oh my gosh, HOW have I never heard of this before?? Seriously one of the easiest projects you guys have ever shared, and I can’t wait to try it!

  • Have you ever tried this then used the transfered tape as ribbon for a gift? I didn’t know if it would work, but thought it might be worth a try.

  • wondering if packing tape would be able to transfer photos? if i get brave maybe i’ll experiment with printing pics on different kinds of paper to see. any thoughts would be appreciated

  • That’s so interesting and awesome,
    thanks Elsie for sharing the creative idea!

    Ana 🙂

  • Just did this as a break from my Saturday tv-watching-marathon. Really easy and fun! My favorite one of mine was the one that came out with the most flaws… Some I left in the water too long so they came off perfectly

  • What a great idea! I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to spruce up my decor–especially with the arrival of Spring! Can’t wait to dig through old Cooking Light, People, and Southern Living mags! 🙂

  • This is awesome! I’ve never heard of this or seen it before, and I can’t wait to try! SO EASY!

  • I’ve never seen this craft before and love the opportunities that lay ahead!!

  • WOW! thanks for the memories….used to do that back in the 60’s with pictures of our favorite group/singer (mine were The Monkees) and then stick it in our scrap book….hmmmm!! was journalling back then without realizing!! LOL!! Now I’m dating myself!!!LOL! Seems old stuff is really making a comback!

  • This was so easy and cool! I’ll bet this would be a cool lampshade idea…

  • I can’t wait to try this out!!
    Do you know if this could possibly work on other papers? It would be rad to make a collage of a loved one’s face or a pet photograph.
    Thanks for inspiring and being so awesome! ❤️

  • How clever! Way to go, Elsie and Emma’s mom! Thanks for providing tips on how to use your creative ideas. I look forward to using this in my Project Life album.

  • Ha! i thought I was the only quirky one that liked to use shipping tape for just about everything. This is great! I use pretty shipping tape a lot and had never heard of this one 🙂

    Love and Luck,

    Laurali Star

  • I just got a couple of books from the library on starting a journal and I am very glad I read your post, as the timing is just right to help me add some jazz to my upcoming journal. Thanks for sharing ♥

  • Oh, my goodness. I’m going to try this! I’ve never heard of this before. So fun.

  • I’ve done this with Xeroxed copies of photographs (inkjet printer doesn’t work because the image generally isn’t waterproof). I mounted the result on a light-colored and very thin piece of wood I got at the craft store, and once we put them in vintage frames the images look like sepia prints or daguerrotypes. I didn’t think of using color pictures from magazines. That’s brilliant!

  • I discovered this in a book I received for christmas last year, it’s so much fun! Also I found that they don’t take quite as long to soak if you use warm water! 🙂

  • This is an awesome craft! If you use brown packing tape, you will want to dip it back into the water again after doing everything else, it will brighten it up!

  • How interesting…I’ve never heard of this before! Thanks for sharing.

    Keisha xo

  • So simple yet beautiful! I’m definitely going to try this.

  • This looks like awesome fun! It would be super cute to use as a substitute to washi tape, I think! As a side note, you found some awesome magazine images to use!

  • Why don’t you just cut out the image from the magazine and glue it in your art journal instead? Or am I missing something?

  • I have so many extra magazines! Perfect inspiration, and I had never seen this done before, it is beautiful and so easy;)

  • This is such a brilliant and simple idea. I have a few windows in our new office where I would love to put up a border of these transfers. They would transform the whole area 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration, as always!

  • Never seen it done with packing tape but I have done it with contact paper.
    These seem so colourful. Mine was photocopy a photo, press it onto contact paper, wet and rub off and voila your photo is left behind. The stickiness returns and once dry attach to a jar/glass candle holder

    perfect for gifts!

  • I’ve never seen this before but I’m going to have to try it now. So excited. I think I’ll find a way to incorporate it into a card.
    xx Sarah | Loser Girl Wins

  • This is SO cooool! trying it Now! you guys are great! love your blog!

  • Oh wow so simple- now that’s something I can manage.

  • Tried here! Thanks so much for sharing, here are my results:

  • These look lovely! Will definitely be giving it a go!

  • just saw this and decided to try it …

    looks like we used the same magazine!

  • Hi there?
    What do you mean? I don’t think so because it’s just tape, magazine and water.

    I did teach how to transfer magazines to fabric once- but you need a product called Liquitex to do that!

    🙂 Elsie

  • fun. immediately pulled out an old magazine. they are soaking now! can’t wait to see how they turn out. thanks for the idea. 🙂

  • This is so cool! Love how it doesn’t require a lot of materials but still looks so cool! 😀

  • I think you have to use a laser printer (a copy machine). I tried it with our inkjet printers and it did not work.

    XO! Elsie

  • These are just stunning, this is such a wonderful idea x

  • Ok this is the coolest trick I have ever seen!! I have always wanted something fun to do with my old magazines that was new and unique. This is definitely it!!! Can’t wait to try it 🙂


  • I’ve never heard of this before, but it’s such a fun & easy way to add to a scrapbook or something. I love it!


  • Oh my goodness this is so genius and probably (even though it’s simple) one of my favourite posts you’ve ever done. I love that I can make my own ‘washi’ tape like this! So smart. This technique is going to find it’s way permanently into my scrapbooking and Project Life projects! I can’t wait to go home and look through my magazines!

  • This is such a neat idea! I am completely overflowing with ideas on how to use this with everything. Fantastic Post!! Love this post Elsie!

  • I don’t understand how you have these ideas!

  • Love that your mom was your art teacher! A good art teacher can make such a difference. I had a great one who was encouraging and had the best projects… then I had a horrible one who made me feel un-artistic and just generally acted like everything we made was crap. I remember her making another student cry once over the color wheel. For real.

  • Why have I never heard of this before? This would be SO perfect for putting in my new journal which I’m currently starting to make.
    It would look amazing to make a pretty background or even to put alongside a photo to provide some contrast.
    Thank you for the idea Elsie !

  • How pretty is that?! I’ve never even seen something like that- is it an American thing?

    Love from Germany,


  • I love this and didn’t know you could do this!

  • I’ve never heard of this, and I love it! What a neat way to use packing tape.

  • omg!!! love this idea. I am so doing this. thanks for sharing this idea!! xx. gigi.

  • Totally, haven’t seen this before either. What a fun/easy idea for extra magazines!

  • Hi Katrina, I use them for art journals and wall art. I used more clear tape to mount them. ModPodge would work as well!
    xx- Elsie

  • Wow, I’ve never seen this before. How awesome! Cannot wait to try it! 🙂

  • that is just brilliant!
    so simply to make yet beautiful,
    i do not have an art journal but i think that they will beamazing as book marks!
    thank you for sharing!

  • How have I never heard of this before?!? It’s so great and I love that it can be done with kids for a fun feel or made to work in more “grown up” decor! My blog is East Coast Creative and you guys always link to us and credit us for introducing you to Engineer Prints, but you’ve totally just introduced me to my new favorite thing!!! Thanks Elsie!!


  • Dude!!! I was just thinking of doing something with packing tape last night (do you also tend to think of neat ideas while trying to fall asleep?). This will be perfect.

  • What a neat idea! What did you use the transferred tape for? How do you adhere them to other surfaces? (Thinking about using these to spruce up some snail mail or add accents to scrapbook pages)


  • How pretty! Almost like DIY washi tape (without the sticky). Sounds like you have such a fun mom, too! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • I love this!! Super easy-breezy with awesome results! Thanks for sharing this.

  • I’ve never heard of this or seen it before!

    Thanks for sharing, this looks like a lot of fun!
    And who DOESN’T have a stack of magazines that need a project? =)

    Heidi Harlequin

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