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


Second Purse Finished–Help Me Decide?

Sometimes we don’t need to know all the answers, we just need to START. I started this project trusting that the answers would come if I would just begin. The Purses Project has been an exciting journey into social media, blogging and new art techniques. I still have a long way to go, but I learn something new every day by people sharing their advice and knowledge via blogs, videos, podcasts, twitter, etc.

I currently have a handful of women in the process of making purses for their significant female lost to cancer. I’ve tried to be their faithful guide/encourager through the process but I realized I had a problem. The purse I created for my grandmother was a wooden cigar box purse and NOT the typical leather purse that most women are using for the project. The beauty of this project is there is no right or wrong way to do the purses, but I still felt like I needed to try my hand at painting a leather purse.

Goodwill purse

Goodwill purse

I decided to paint a leather purse so I could know first hand how leather would respond to paint, mediums, glues, etc. Here’s the second purse I created in memory of my grandmother for The Purses Project.

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

This purse has some of the same references as the first purse but there are new images like her car (vintage Falcon), hand stitching, and the powder puffs from the Coty face powder that used to sit on her makeup table. I didn’t add as many photos of her but added more objects that reflect who she was.

Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

Detail of portrait. Mixed media/altered art purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

I learned a lot by painting this leather purse and will detail some of the how-to’s in next week’s posts. But first, I need your help–I like both purses, each for different reasons and can’t decide which one to use for the project.

My completed purse for The Purses Project (Jamie Howell)

My completed purse for The Purses Project (Jamie Howell)

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

mixed media/altered purse by Jamie Howell for The Purses Project

I appreciate your time to comment

Life Imprints Activity: Recalling Memories of your Significant Female

blog pic  may 16 IMG_20130427_121452
On Grief and Life Imprints
During my graduate studies for this project, I found a technique used in grief therapy called Life Imprints. Life Imprints works on the basis of recalling memories and giving honor to what we have experienced in loss and transition. Many times loss happens quickly or in a way that we are in a heightened coping state and we are not aware of how we are being affected in the moments of the process. Women especially are not given adequate time to grieve as responsibilities to family and career take importance over self-care.
Bearing witness and telling our story is powerful for both us and the significant woman we’ve lost to cancer. In this process, I wanted to tell my grandmother’s story in a way that would honor all that she was, even the parts of her I didn’t fully know. I answered the Life Imprint questions to help me retrace my memories and begin my grandmother’s purse. I “rediscovered” my grandmother and gained confidence in my legacy of womanhood. While making my grandmother’s purse, I experienced the power of art to heal in that I started remembering things about my grandmother that were lost in my memory. Suddenly, I could remember with accurate detail her facial expressions, the smell of her house, the violets she kept in the kitchen window and so many other sweet things. Those sweet memories reclaimed began to replace the memories of her last days with cancer and I began to focus on identifying her without cancer.
If you are starting a purse for the project, consider taking a few moments privately to trace the imprint of your significant female in your life by answering these Life Imprints questions in a journal or notebook:

The person whose imprint I want to trace is:
This person has had the following impact on:
My mannerisms or gestures:
My ways of speaking and communicating:
My work and pastime activities:
My feelings about myself and others:
My basic personality:
My values and beliefs:
The imprints I would most like to affirm and develop are:
The imprints I would most like to relinquish or change are:

Altered Purse Artists: Inspiration for The Purses Project

Isn’t the web such a great place to find inspiration? Pinterest made it so easy for me to put together a board devoted to The Purses Project ( with altered purses, art techniques, videos and alternative purses such as book purses! You can see my completed altered purse at the “Getting Started on a Purse” (link to the right). I’ve also found two fantastic blogs with great altered purses and clear how to’s. Follow the links under their photos to see how they created their masterpieces and get your own creative juices flowing for your purse. REMEMBER, don’t forget to add the full name of the woman you are honoring as well as your own name as the purse maker. (see details on category: Getting started on a Purse)

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca

Altered purse by Penny Richards pennyrichardsca Altered purse by Sara Batkin's Legacy of Love
Altered purse by Sara Batkin’s Legacy of Love

An Artistic Break with Encaustics

blog version of encaustic
Today I took a little break and spent the day playing in hot wax! I have been fascinated with encaustics (an art form using hot wax and pigment) for a while and finally took a workshop from the Atlanta encaustic artist, Penny Treese ( I made the picture for my studio to remind me to play when painting and see mistakes as opportunities. The photo is me and my cousin and captures the childhood ability to just love life at the moment and even act a little goofy. Penny was an excellent teacher (as well as Kim, her assistant) and I can’t wait to do more experiments with hot wax!
(I asked her about using this technique on a purse but it seemed a little too complicated for our purposes).

Where do I find a purse?

A woman’s purse is a personal statement and a functional feminine tool. Since my grandmother died over 20 years ago, I did not have her purse to use for this project and I’m sure others of you are in the same situation. It may take a little searching, but it is easy to find a purse that will suit your needs for this project. Ideally, a purse that belonged to the significant female would be best but if a purse is not available, consider these options:

Goodwill purse

Goodwill purse

• Thrift stores such as Goodwill. Remember, you will be changing the surface of the purse with photos, paint, etc. so a few scratches or fade spots won’t matter once the purse is finished.
• Online sources such as EBay
• Clearance sales at stores such as Ross, Target or Marshalls.
• Michael’s Arts & Crafts had great unfinished wooden cigar boxes that I easily transformed into a purse. Check with your local cigar shop or cigar enthusiast for these boxes.
• Yard sales or raid your family/friends closets for unwanted purses
• Be creative, there are lots of internet sources for DIY purses that you can sew or make from common or recycled materials.

How do I begin a purse for the project?

The Purses Project is only in the beginning stages and needs your unique story to grow and become a powerful message concerning significant women lost to cancer and the grief we share. If it’s time to tell your story of the remarkable woman you’ve lost to cancer, here’s how you can begin.
• Gather photos, personal items, letters or mementos that belonged to or represent the significant female (photo/color copy the originals). Find a purse that belonged to your significant female or buy a purse that would match her style or taste.

• Clean the purse with alcohol and a cotton ball and then prime the purse with gesso (found at Michael’s Arts&Crafts). You can skip the priming step if you want to keep the original purse color.



• Now, let your creativity rule—Paint the background if you wish, and decoupage photos and personal items to the purse surface. Paper items can be easily attached with Mod Podge and heavier items with adhesive such as E6000 (available at Michael’s Arts & Crafts or Home Depot). The purse can be altered or embellished with paint, stamps, stencils, mixed media objects, collage, drawing, sewing and many other art tools and techniques.
blog version blog pic  may 16 IMG_20130427_121452

• Names are important in this project, so the full name of the significant female should be in a prominent position on the purse, creatively displayed and easy to read from a viewing distance. Also, the full name of the purse maker should be included on the back of the purse.
blog version completed purse
blog version of name on back
• The purse is open to personal interpretation and should be a visual celebration of the life of the significant woman. Consider not only her family roles but her significance in her culture, community and world.
• When you have finished your purse, please consider submitting the purse for future exhibit purposes or simply upload a picture to the online gallery (under construction). Our goal is to obtain 50 completed purses and seek a gallery for an exhibit.
purse complete for blog
Thank you for embarking on this journey. Please contact me if you need support, advice, tips or tricks for completing your purse.
Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook and on this blog.

NEXT BLOG POST: Options for finding a purse