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An easier encaustic photo transfer: the parchment paper method

An Easier Encaustic Photo Transfer: The Parchment Paper Method

You’re going to wonder why you’ve been doing photo transfer the hard way! The parchment paper photo transfer method means less burnishing and there’s no paper to dissolve so less chance of rubbing too hard and ruining your transfer.

How to do a Parchment Paper Encaustic Transfer

You’ll want to use a toner-based laser printer.

Put the parchment paper image-side down on the smooth encaustic surface. Rub with a spoon. The ink will transfer from the paper to the wax surface.
Put the parchment paper image-side down on the smooth encaustic surface. Rub with a spoon. The ink will transfer from the paper to the wax surface.
  1. Before you begin, prepare your image. Use an image editing program to flip the image so it will be the right way when you transfer it.
  2. Parchment paper can go through a laser printer but it’s too slippery to feed through on its own. You’ll need a carrier sheet. Cut the parchment so it is smaller than a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper and tape it securely down with strong shipping packing tape. (Hat tip to Amelia Kraemer for the packing tape suggestion). Don’t tape right to the top edge, make sure there is enough paper for the printer to grip for the initial pull.  My printer has a feed slot that works well for this.
  3. Prepare your encaustic painting surface to receive the transfer. Make sure the area is very smooth. Bumps and divets will not receive the transfer properly.
  4. Once printed, put the parchment image-side down on your encaustic painting and rub the back of the parchment with a spoon. The ink will come off very easily and you will be able to see through the parchment to ensure that the entire image has transferred.
  5. Once you’ve finished rubbing, simply lift the parchment paper up. There is no need to dissolve the paper with water.
  6. You’ll need to gently fuse the transfer to sink the transferred ink into the wax. I use a torch and let the flame lick the surface.

Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a much easier method.

Have you tried the parchment paper photo transfer method? Leave a comment below with any tips or notes from your experience.

You can also join the All Things Encaustic Facebook Group and post photos of your paintings.

Ruth Maude Encaustic Artist & Blogger

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic.

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27 thoughts on “An Easier Encaustic Photo Transfer: The Parchment Paper Method”

  1. Whats the best way to prep the roll of parchment? I saw it in flat folded also but that seemed like it wouldnt work at all. Do you unroll a bunch and flatten it somehow and then use a paper cutter to get them < 8 x 10. Or do you tear a bunch of small pieces, flatten them somehow and then trim down?

  2. I tried this parchement paper method, unfortunately it didn’t work. I too ended up with a very light image – barely visable. The ink looked like it was beaded on the surface of the paper. Not sure if it’s the brand of ink or what? Too bad.

  3. Thank you for your blog. I have used the transfer method in both my work and that of my students. Having experimented with wax and parchment papers with various degrees of success, I now use Reynold’sCut-Rite Wax Paper with excellent results.
    I print my images on my 2013 HP Laser Jet CP1025 nw which unfortunately is no longer available. I hope that the replacing of the image drum will give me additional years of printing.

  4. I tried looking up settings for an Epson printer. Should the settings be as for Photo?
    Trying with parchment paper to wood slices transfer. Image not a clear as I would like.

    hightree woodcraft

  5. Can you tell me why you do not allow your pages to be printed. I keep my own art notebook for reference and wanted to insert these instructions. When I went to print it tells me this is not possible as it is protected.

  6. I tried this with no success. I use Reynolds Parchment paper and an HP laser printer. The photo simply did not transfer. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong.

  7. For step number 3: Is the encaustic wax on the painting very warm? Temperature matter before you do the transfer? I’m new to encaustic!

  8. I’ve tried it and was disappointed . The ink seems to kind of bead up on the surface of the parchment, making a what looks like a lo res image. It transferred just fine!but if the printed image isn’t good, neither will the transfer be.

        1. Hi Cheryl. I have always done my transfers this way, with really detailed bits, always a great print with no beading. When I read your comment, my first thought was could you have mistakenly used wax paper instead of parchment? I can totally see that ink would bead on wax paper. The only time I’ve had ink bead on parchment was when I used my pigment ink printer rather than my laser, though you were clear on that. Hope it was as simple as a paper error.

  9. What brand of printer do you use that has a feed slot? I have a Brothers, but am in the market for a new one. Thank you, Rhonda

  10. Thank you. Can you elaborate on the parchment paper. I have some that is fairly heavy, yet you mention being able to see through it. Please clarify?

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