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How to Print With Cellulose Thinners

Transfer a vintage photo with cellulose thinners for a unique scrapbook page.
Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

In Australia and the UK, "cellulose thinners" is the name used for a variety of products manufactured for use in the auto industry and by model hobbyists. Artists have discovered the products can also be used to transfer printed or copied images, graphics or lettering onto cardstock or fabric for use in other art and craft projects. Photographs, letters, hand-drawn pictures and vintage graphics work well with this technique.

Things You'll Need:

  • Cardstock Or Fabric
  • Cellulose Thinner
  • Rubber Or Latex Gloves
  • Newspaper Or Plastic Tablecloth
  • Photographs, Graphics Or Other Images To Reproduce
  • Cotton Balls
  • Laser Printer Or Photocopier
  • Spoon

Photocopy the image of your choice or print it using a laser printer. If you are using an image with words, print them in mirror image, so they will appear correctly in the finished print.

Cover your work surface with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth. Place the cardstock or fabric you want to transfer the image to face-up on the work surface. Using scissors, trim closely around the edges of the image you are going to transfer. Position the image face-down on top of the cardstock or fabric.

Put on the gloves. Saturate a cotton ball with cellulose thinner. Hold the image securely with one hand, and with the other rub the back of the copied image with the cotton ball until the paper is completely moistened.

Continue holding down the image with one hand. With the other, pick up the spoon and firmly but slowly rub the back of it over the moistened image. Without letting go of the paper, carefully peel back a corner of the image to see if it has transferred completely. If it hasn't, continue rubbing with the spoon. If the image begins to dry, moisten it again with more cellulose thinner on another cotton ball.

When the image is transferred to your satisfaction, carefully peel away the original image and discard it. Let the printed cardstock or fabric dry completely before using it in your project.


When transferring to fabric, smooth textures and solid colors work best.


  • Work in an area with good ventilation. Working outside is best, but if you must work inside, wear a mask. Respect copyright laws if using graphics found online.
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