Easiest Photo Transfer Method

dot3.jpgWant a fast and fool-proof photo transfer method for adding images to polymer clay?  My favorite is Dotty McMillian’s Picture Perfect Color Photo-transfers.  The secret is using t-shirt transfer paper for ink jet printers.  Works perfectly every time!

[tags]polymer clay, arts & crafts, diy, tutorials, projects, image transfer[/tags]


  1. Garlinda Price says

    Hi Heather, where can I find the transfers to use. Colored or black and white/ I tried the Doverbooksat the library but they aren’t cute.

  2. says

    I agree Heather. I’ve been a great fan of this method for years. The only problem is that it doesn’t work for curved surfaces, you know, like inros. So for non flat surfaces I use the laser printer method (see Donna Katos new book)


  3. says

    Hi Heather! I’ve tried this method, and I’ve found that with my favorite type of clay (Kato Polyclay), this method is definitely not “foolproof” (although I could be the major fool–LOL!). I’ve found the easiest method to be one that incorporates a specific product (JudiKins TranzIt Rinse Away Paper) and a laser printer or toner copier (B&W or color). You place the printed and trimmed image face down on the uncured clay, burnish, wait five minutes or so, and then run the clay under water. Voila! Instant transfer! I’ve detailed the info on the paper and the step-by-step on my blog. Just thought you’d like to know about this!



  4. says

    hi margaret,
    i used it with premo, my clay of choice, and i have to give it two thumbs up for super easy to use. of course, i’m not a transfer expect, so thank you for sharing the information. :)
    melanie -donna’s new book is filled with all sorts of good info. thanks for pointing that out.

  5. says

    just like everything in polymer clay, it seems there are many ways to create a desired effect. If this one doesn’t work out for you, try another method until one does!

    FYI: I use an epson printer, HP Iron-on Transfers with white Premo clay. The results are amazing.

  6. Angie says

    Ok, well I’m just now tring to figure all of this out. After you print on iron on paper do you put it on before or after you bake? I haven’t tried the jin method but I have tried using the mineral spirits but it didn’t work. I’m looking for the best way where I can do it using my inkjet printer.

  7. Shelly says

    I have been able to make the transfer onto the clay but I am having a problem with the photo being easy to scratch once made into jewelry. Is there any coating or sealer that will not leave the piece tacky or sticky.

  8. says

    Hi Shelly,
    I’m not expert on this, but I use a little future. I dab it on with my finger, wipe off the excess and then I heat it up for a bit with my embossing heat gun. I like the matte finish of polymer clay and hate to add glazes, but this does the trick for me.

    You might want to ask this question on the polymerclaycentral.com message board. I’m sure you could get a better answer!


  9. Jamie says

    I am totally new to clay and I am trying to make photo pendants to go on some jewlery I am making. I have read a lot of different techniques and tried many and I am getting a transfer, but they are either spotty or they leave a film that I am having to scrape off and then they usually get messed up in the process. I am using Avery t-shirt transfer paper and sculpty clay. I have layed the transfer on the clay and burnished it with water or alcohol and even tried using liquid sculpty and then laid it image down on a ceramic tile and placed another tile on top (I am trying to make two sided as well)and bake for 15 min. I did try first not putting anything on top and leaving it face up, and I tried taking it out at 5 min and peeling it off, but none looked very good. I am wondering if it is the brand of paper or just me. I also was wondering what the trick is to keeping the clay from sticking to the work surface and to making a hole for the eye pin through the entire pendant. Please let me know if anyone can offer suggestions.

  10. Melodie says

    I use Avery transfer papers, burnish VERY well and remove the paper before baking. This seems to be the only way I can properly trim and shape after the image is transferred.

    Jamie – I get the film with Avery too (I’m going to try HP after reading here). After throwing out about a 1/2 dozen or so yesterday, I just popped one in the oven to see what would happen, and the film simply disappeared (after the full 30 mins)! You couldn’t even tell. Oh, joy! If they contort during baking, just put a ceramic tile on them as soon as they come out of the oven, and let them cool. They will be perfectly flat when they are cool. Don’t put the tile on top while they bake though, because the film does not disappear if not exposed while baking.

    For the work surface, I use a small piece of parchment paper. You can bake right on it, move it around while burnishing and pick it up and peel it out from underneath your piece. This greatly reduces the chance for distortion. I don’t move mine off the paper until it come out of the oven. Burnish, trim & bake.

    I’ve tried leaving the paper on for a few minutes in the oven, but then the clay comes out partly cured and does not cut well and is no longer pliable. Not good for me.

    I’d love to learn more about how you do your two-sided. I’ve never had the nerve to try that.

    Shelly – The secret to a beautiful matte finish that is not sticky is a can of FolkArt Clearcote Acrylic Sealer in Matte finish. I take them outside on a poster board and spray lightly until the surface is shine-wet. When they dry, it’s like there is nothing on them at all and they are waterproof! They are velvety smooth and not sticky at all. My only warning is to do this before attaching it to other non-transferred on clay. Clay without the transfer on it may remain sticky if it gets too much on it. Which can happen since the transfer sucks it up like a sponge and you use much more than you would on a normal surface.

  11. says

    Where can I get the best pictures for photo transfer onto polymer clay? Can I use magazine pictures to transfer onto paper and then onto the clay????

  12. Tina says

    I think I really need some help….

    I am trying to transfer images to poly clay with t-shirt transfer-paper..

    I have printed the image onto T-shirt transfer paper.
    I condition the clay very well.. roll it out and cut to shape.
    Put the paper on top, and rub/burnish well.. I think.. My problem is that whenever I pop the whole thing in the oven, the edges of the paper curls up and result in white corners.
    I have tried putting ironing(!!) the paper onto the clay before baking (!!) but this messes with the shape of my clay. (Although the transfer itself is crisp and clear.. mostly)
    I have tried putting a coin on top, but again this does not reach the edges…
    How do I burnish properly? The paper simply won’t stick to the clay.
    Is my clay too dry? (Sculpey III). Could I “moisten” the surface with liquid clay before adding the transfer? (I tried with water.. did not really work…)

    Any help very welcome… I am getting slightly obsessed! :)

  13. Melodie says

    I tried something new that might work for you too. After burnishing, instead of baking with the paper on, or trying to iron it, I used my heat gun and it works great! You can get one at the craft store in the embossing section.

    Condition, shape, burnish, and then heat (keep it moving, don’t want to get it too hot or it will burn). Then burnish and heat again a couple times, then peel the paper off and viola!

  14. says

    Hi, I tried this and the image wouldnt go onto my clay but then I used liquid polyclay under the image before heating in oven and this worked great!

  15. says

    I have tried this several times.
    I am making bow centers with images in the center and cannot get this to work properly. My images do not transfer completely. no matter how much i burnish, no matter how completely I think I have gotten them to stick the whole image just doesn’t transfer. I’ve tried to use some liquid clay under the transfer to try to get more image to stick and it’s just not working.
    Help!!! Please!!
    I’m using Jolee’s Transfer paper, Sculpey and/or Fimo clay always white… I’ts just not working out well :(

  16. says

    Hi Laurie! This predates me on Craftgossip – and like you I didn’t have much luck with this kind of transfer.

    What I find works best, for me, is using Judykins Tranzit papers (stampstampstamp.com is a supplier). No weird burnishing, liquid clays. It just works.

  17. Rachelle says

    I’ve used this technique successfully for a couple years and had the hit & miss results UNTIL I started using Fimo white clay, FRESH Avery light fabric transfer sheets & tenting my pieces while baking. I’ve learned to be patient with this technique & usually apply the paper transfre to the clay and lightly burnish before allowing it to sit for a day. I burnish again and , with the combination above, have very reliable results. Combine that with SCDiva’s plexiglass method and you have a very professional end result. My last batch, however became sticky in heat when protected with Future and the image peeled off on the paper envelopes they were stored in. Thank you Melodie for the tip on FolkArt Clearcote Acrylic Sealer in Matte. I’m running out now to get some for my newest batch!

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