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How to Make an Art Journal Background Using the Packing Tape Transfer Technique

Today, I am going to show you a fun image transfer technique AS WELL as an awesome new way to make an art journal (or other mixed media) background.

Some of you may be keen on image transfer methods, while others might find them intimidating. So, let's ask this first:

What is an image transfer?

An image transfer is any method where you would transfer a printed image to anything else. There are a ton of different ways you can do this, but I am only going to show you one.

I will be showing you a technique most commonly known as the packing tape transfer technique. However, we'll be using scotch tape. And we will be transferring newspaper print.

Fun, huh?

Newspaper packing tape transfer collage

What you'll need:

  • Art journal or card stock

  • Scotch tape — like the dollar store brand

  • A newspaper

  • Mod Podge

  • Paint (optional)

I decided I wanted to do a background for an art journal. But since this technique is a process, I wanted to go small.

I had a little planner from a couple of years ago that I had been hanging onto for this exact purpose.

Recycling old planners into art journals

Since the book had been made as a planner, I needed to prep the pages I planned to use.

I used white spray gesso to cover the print on both pages. Doing this also fortifies the thin paper, so you don't have to worry about it ripping.

It's also good to rip out several pages of an altered book in between each spread to leave room for embellishments and such.

Prepping an altered book

I let it dry. And then got the free newspaper I found in our driveway.

One of the more frustrating things about image transfer techniques is about what images can be transferred. I can tell you that the newspaper works because of the kind of ink and paper that's used. This method will not work using printed inkjet images.

Using newspaper in art journals

I grabbed a piece of tape about 3 inches long.

Use scotch tape to make image transfers

I put it on the newspaper print, keeping my fingers under the edge.

Making newspaper print transfers

Keeping one finger under the tape, I used my thumb to give a press to the rest of the tape.

I found it was always easier to keep a little grip on the tape than to try to peel it off after it's already all the way on.

Transferring newspaper print to tape

I then, very gently and slowly, started peeling back the tape. The trick is just to go really slow.

Making an image transfer onto tape

I was able to pick up the ink on the tape as well as a small amount of the paper, which I thought was also cool.

A piece of newspaper print transfered to tape

I did that many, many more times so I'd have enough of the newspaper tape to cover my pages.

Doing that, I noticed that the slower I peeled off the tape, the less likely I was to pick up any paper.

Packing tape newspaper print transfers

Once I had enough newspaper tape, I turned back to my journal.

I decided I wanted the tape to be over a color, so I painted the pages a lighter green.

Making art journal backgrounds

After it dried, I painted some Mod Podge over an area on one page:

Mod podge for decoupage

While the Mod Podge was still wet, I put one of my pieces of newspaper tape on top of it.

Adding newspaper tape transfers to journal page

I continued to basically decoupage my pages using the pieces of tape. I layered them in all directions, letting the ends go off the edge so I could clean them up later.

Decoupage tape image transfers

After the pages were both covered, I gave it another layer of Mod Podge.

Sealing image transfers

When all was dry, I cleaned up the edges.

Trimming extra tape off the background

The below picture doesn't give justice to how cool it turned out.

Art journal background with newspaper transfer

I especially loved turning it into this journal page:

Art journal spread using newspaper transfer technique

Even though the original picture of the women in my spread must have been taken in the 1940s or 50s, the world of today snuck into the pages. The only three words I can really make out in the newspaper print are COVID, pandemic, and virus. This will someday be another chapter in history.

And so as not to end on a depressing note, I will proclaim my gratitude for being able to make art as often as I can. I hope others have also found time to explore their creativity during the last year and a half.

If anyone needs any help with their art or has a question I can answer, please feel free to comment or e-mail me.

Now go create art!

Scotch tape newspaper transfer - mixed media technique

Packing tape transfer background idea


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