How To Transfer Images (or lettering) with Citrasolv

Citrasolv (household cleaner turned awesome art medium)

Citrasolv (household cleaner turned awesome art medium)

Looking for an easy way to transfer images (drawings, photos, clip art or lettering) to a surface like fabric, wood, or paper? A household cleaner called CITRASOLV can give you incredible results! As an artist, I’ve done transfers using artists mediums like Gel Medium but was amazed at how easy Citrasolv was to use (plus it’s a money/time saver). For The Purses Project, If you’re concerned about hand-painting an image on your altered purse, why not print it and transfer it? Cheesy Easy!
Finished mixed media/altered purse with Citrasolv transfer for lettering

Finished mixed media/altered purse with Citrasolv transfer for lettering

I used Citrasolv to transfer the lettering (my grandmother’s name) to my mixed media/altered purse. Here’s a simple how to and some tips for the process:
1. First, gather a few supplies:
-Citrasolv (a household cleaner, I found mine at Ingles but I’ve heard Whole Foods and online
sources also carry it)
-Cotton balls
-A metal spoon
-Xerox copies of images/lettering to transfer (read more below)
-A purse (or other surface to transfer on to)
-Painter’s tape

For The Purses Project, your images should relate to the woman you lost to cancer such as personal photos, handwritten letters, old documents/awards, words or other mementos. I use the site, the Graphics Fairy ( for vintage images like birds, free fonts, etc. Take your image to your local office supply and make Xerox copies of all. Adjust the size and copy output to get a good, clear copy image. You can make black & white or color copies.
HINT–for words or lettering, choose mirror image before you click print on your computer. It will print backwards, but the words will reverse correctly when you finish the transfer.

Print words/letters in mirror image

Print words/letters in mirror image

2. Next, cut out the copied image but leave enough paper around the image so you can tape it to the surface. Tape the image face down on to the surface making sure it will not slide around or move.
Secure with tape

Secure with tape

3. Although Citrasolv is non-toxic, do this next step in a well ventilated area (open a window). Put Citrasolv on a cotton ball and rub across the paper in a circular motion until well saturated. You should see the image appear through the wet paper.
Saturate with Citrasolv so that the image appears through the wet paper

4. Saturate with Citrasolv so that the image appears through the wet paper

4. Rub the back of a metal spoon over the paper in small circular motions with pressure. Make sure you go over areas more than once and lift the corner to check the transfer. The more you rub, the better the image transfer.
Rub paper with the back of a spoon

Rub paper with the back of a spoon

Check the transfer before removing the tape

Check the transfer before removing the tape

5. Finally, remove the paper and check out your beautifully transferred image! You can leave it as is, but you can also paint, stamp or collage to add extra creativity! Read more about how I finished the lettering after the transfer here:
Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer

Name on altered purse done with Citrasolv transfer

1. I tried Citrasolv on FABRIC with a copy of a photo, WORKED GREAT.
2. I tried Citrasolv on a STRETCHED CANVAS and couldn’t for the life of me get a clear transfer.
If you have any tricks for this, please let me know.
3. I used Citrasolv with copies on PAPER and a WOOD PANEL, WORKED GREAT.
4. Remember, use the back of the spoon and go over areas more than once.
5. Print lettering in MIRROR IMAGE and the lettering will reverse correctly after the transfer.
6. You can always skip the Citrasolv, just print/copy an image and Mod Podge it directly on to
the surface. Citrasolv is best used when you want to see the background through the image.
7. Citrasolv is non-toxic, but work in a well ventilated area.

Many thanks for your time with me today!
Live Creatively,
Jamie Howell


Adding Her Name: How-To & A Clumsy Attempt at Sewing

hello-my-name-is sticker
A name is so precious and reveals much about who we are and who’s we are.
Since you are adding the full name of your significant female to the purse, this project also becomes a memorial art form. It is my hope that the multitude of names represented by the purses will:
!. Create a new conversation about cancer
2. Express the collective and individual importance of women
3. bring awareness to not only the disease but also to the grief that lingers in the hearts of family and friends
Type her full name in a word document, print it off, cut it out and mod podge it on to the purse. Simple and done!

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca

Did she like scrabble? Why not glue scrabble pieces to spell out her name?
On the first purse I did, I used typewriter key stickers (found in the scrapbook section at Michael’s) and attached each one with E6000 glue. The possibilities for adding her name are endless and should reflect something about your significant female. For example, as a little girl I would pound away on her old typewriter and loved the old type it tapped out. The typewriter keys were a natural since they reminded me of her home and the fun of playing there.
blog version completed purse
Art making has the power to recall dormant memories. While working on my purse, I could suddenly remember things about my grandmother that I had forgotten like smells, the African Violets in her windows, the little knick knacks around her house, etc. I am working on a second purse (strictly for experimenting with techniques) and memories started flooding back about sewing and quilts. I started remembering some of the old quilts and hand stitches my grandmother did. Below is a pillowcase she made for me one year for Christmas. I absolutely treasure it to this day.
This is a cherished pillowcase made for me by my Nanny. Quilts and sewing were common place in this generation of women.

This is a cherished pillowcase made for me by my Nanny. Quilts and sewing were common place in this generation of women.

The artistic attempts of women often go unrecognized and many quilts are beginning to be appreciated as art forms like the quilts of Gee’s Bend and those by artist, Faith Ringgold. To honor my grandmother and the handcrafted art form of women, I wanted to add the stitches I remembered to the purse. If you know me well, you are snickering at this statement. That is a hilarious thought since I did NOT inherit any of my grandmother’s sewing abilities. While all of my grandmothers and great grandmothers could sew beautifully, I actually FAILED sewing in high school. I decided there had to be a little renegade sewing gene somewhere in my body so after many, many attempts to thread a needle (I think I went cross-eyed temporarily), I attempted to recreate some of the stitches I remembered.
Excuse the bad pic

Excuse the bad pic

A few of the stitches I remember from quilts and my pillowcase.
Okay, not great or even straight stitches (I think I see why I failed sewing) but it echoes some of the traditional folk art of women, recreates memories of my grandmother and it was actually fun despite my past failure with sewing. It’s not perfect but I felt a connection to my grandmother while I struggled with the needle and thread. When you are working on your purse, resist your inner critic, follow the process and remember my happy mantra:
Exactly what you need, will be there exactly when you need it!
I never thought I would attempt to sew on this purse, I just felt “led” to try it without even having any real ability. Here’s a question to ponder . . .
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you try something new and creative on your purse?
Yep, you could mess up. But art is forgiving–you’ll just try again or paint over it or pull it off the purse, that’s all! Try your hand at something new, it may turn out to be a new claim to your feminine heritage!

Any questions, please feel free to comment or contact me! Looking forward to seeing your creative purses to honor our remarkable women!