Technique Tuesday: Sticker Paper Toner Transfer

The other day at work I was about to toss away the backing sheet from some address labels. I looked at it's slick surface and thought about the fact it had already been through a laser printer and that in the past I'd stuck sheets missing a label or two through the printer and that the toner sort of flaked off those areas. I heard about a collage technique in which you cover each collage piece with gel medium, let it dry and then use a sticker sheet to cover the pieces and finally adhere it with an iron. So, I wondered, "What would happen if I ran this empty sheet through a laser printer, with the image reversed, and ironed just the TONER onto a sheet of paper/art journal page?"

Well it turns out you get the best damn toner transfer I've ever seen. Crisp, clean. clear, and nearly 100% transfer of the toner to paper. I haven't tested this on an art journal page but I'm sure the transfer will work just as well.

Here's what I did:

  • Clear the edges off the stitcker sheet
  • Set up an image in GIMP(photoshop, or some other program that will let you REVERSE your printing options or lettering)
  • Go to Image>transform> flip or use the "flip" tool
  • Flip Horizontally so your image is reversed
  • Select print
  • Tell the printer that you're using "thin" paper or a transparency, this uses a lower heat setting so the toner sits on the surface of your sticker sheet better.
  • Place this on your page, set your iron to a HIGH NO STEAM heat setting. (play around with heat settings to see what gives you the look you want. I found that high heat gave the crispest transfer, but lower heat settings distorted the image and left some toner on the sheet.)
  • Carefully iron the page, gently move the iron around, hitting ALL the toner with the iron.
  • Remove the iron
  • Allow the page to cool enough that you can touch it comfortably.
  • Gently peel off the sticker backing.
  • And shout out "HOLY CRAP IT WORKED!!!"

Alternately if you want to grunge this up, peel the sticker paper up when the toner is still hot, if any is still slightly stuck to the backing, it will stretch the toner out and distort your image/words. Then iron it again to get it stuck to the page. Let it cool and peel off the backing, subtle distortion.

This will NOT work with injet or ink based printers, as the ink will just bead off the sticker backing.

The sticker sheet can be used many times, but I found that after a few runs through the printer that the transfer was more and more grungy. I also found that large areas of black did not transfer as well as images with more lines and white.

I will be saving all the address label and sticker backing material frmo here on out, this is the BEST transfer technique I've ever used.

Here are some of my test pages and one page that is 100% from transfers.

  • Ink mix0076
  • Ink mix0077
  • Ink mix0078
  • Ink mix0079
Ink mix0079