Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Use Tacking Iron Tool For Photo Transfers

Putting a printed photograph onto a T-shirt or canvas is called a photo transfer. Photo transfers can be done cleanly with an iron. A tacking iron is a tool that is used by framers to heat adhesive for mounting images, typically posters, to another surface, such as foam core board. This style of iron is smaller than a clothes iron, but gets hot enough to be used for heat photo transfers.


1. Scan the image onto the computer if it is not already in digital format. Re-size the image to fit the size of the project.

2. Print the photo on photo transfer paper with an inkjet printer and remove any excess paper with scissors. Take the digital file and photo transfer paper to a professional printer for a higher quality print, or if the paper is too large to fit in the home printer.

3. Print a few test images onto any remaining photo transfer paper. Fit at least two test pictures onto one sheet, then cut and save the excess.

4. Turn the tacking iron on and allow it to warm for a few minutes. The heat setting will depend on what type of surface the image is being transferred to. Use the high setting for cotton canvas or cotton T-shirts, and use a medium or medium-high setting for transferring onto paper, foam core or matboard.

5. Put one of the test photos face down on a test surface. Put the tacking iron onto the back of the paper and move slowly and evenly over the surface, then lift the paper at the corner and inspect that the transfer is clean and intact with no burning. Make any heat adjustments needed and wait a few more minutes for the iron temperature to change before testing the next piece.

6. Place the actual photo onto the surface after a successful test transfers. Tape two corners of the photo transfer paper to the surface to keep it from slipping.

7. Rub the tacking iron over the back of the paper, as in Step 5. Lift one corner and slowly lift up the rest of the paper. Place the paper back down if some parts did not transfer, apply the tacking iron to that area again and lift the paper.

Tags: photo transfer, tacking iron, photo transfer paper, transfer paper, back paper, foam core, lift paper