Ask any tole painter what transfer paper is and chances are they have used it many times over. However, for many crafters, this is a little gem of a tool that most hadn’t considered or didn’t even know was available. It’s called transfer paper, or graphite paper; though you may remember something similar called carbon paper. It’s not carbon paper though, as its finer and more precise.
Transfer paper, shown here in grey and white, can be used on several different surfaces to easily transfer a pattern.
For instance, if you are making a sign and want to transfer your favorite font onto your wood, you can! Simply print out the pattern or words you want to use, slide the transfer paper underneath it and trace over your design with a ballpoint pen, or if you have one, a stylus.
When you remove the design, your pattern will be on your surface!
You can find transfer paper at the craft store, or like this on Amazon (affiliate link). You can also buy a stylus which makes things easier if you are going to be doing a lot of pattern transfers. I always had a stylus on hand when I did a lot of tole painting years ago. They are also available at the craft store.
For many years I tole painted and often used pattern books for the designs I chose. This blue child’s stool is a great example. I found the pattern in a book I bought and used transfer paper to trace it onto my stool.
I also painted many jars over the years (yes, before painting on jars was cool!), like this one of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse I painted in 2003. After painting my base coat and allowing it to dry, I used transfer paper to get the outline of the design onto the painted glass. I would often draw out the design first then transfer it to the glass with transfer paper. This allowed me to make multiple jars for my store without having to freehand all of them.
Things to keep in mind when using transfer paper:
- Choose the color that will show up best on your surface
- Keep in mind that if you are painting with a light color, using black transfer paper is not a good idea as you will have a much harder time covering it, choose white instead
- It can be cut into smaller pieces and used multiple times before it’s spent
- Keep it stored either in its original package or in a plastic storage bag
Transfer paper is a great tool to keep in your craft room. Check the artist’s section of the craft store, as that’s where you will likely find it. It can be very handy for all sorts of projects!