Polaroid transfers

Blood Is The New Black
Evansville, Indiana
Eat Rite or don't Eat at All

Polaroid Image Transfer

Polaroid image transfer is both deceptively simple and complex. The dyes in the emulsion of peel apart Polaroid prints migrate to a receptor surface (usually watercolor paper) and create a one-of-a-kind image that looks like a combination of photography and a painting. These unique images can be created as a postproduction process using your positive transparencies (a color slide).


Vivitar or Day Lab instant slide printer

Small tray for soaking paper

Soft rubber brayer

A developed positive transparency (a color 35mm slide)

140lb Arches watercolor paper, hot press

Peel apart color 669 Polaroid film


1. Load Polaroid 669 film into a Vivitar or Daylab slide printer and place your slide in the holder.

2. Expose the film and pull the Polaroid 669 print through the rollers of the slide printer.

3. Wait 10 to 20 seconds and peel the positive from the negative.

4. Normally you would save the print (positive) and throw away the negative, but the opposite is true for Polaroid transfers. Place the negative face down on a piece of 140lb Arches watercolor paper.

5. Gently roll with the brayer over the back of the negative taking care not to let the negative slide around on the watercolor paper. Let the negative stay in contact with the watercolor paper and place this in a hot water bath (the temperature should be just shy of boiling) for 2 minutes.

6. After 2 minutes, remove the negative, which is still stuck to the watercolor paper and gently peel back the negative from the watercolor paper.

7. Polaroid chemistry is very basic, so you need to soak your image in a room temperature vinegar bath for 1 to 2 minutes to neutralize the image. This step also intensifies the colors in the image.

8. Rinse the image with water for 4 minutes and hang to dry.

9. Transferred images are fairly stable, except when exposed to bright lights, such as UV light. Use UV absorbing glass when framing images and avoid all direct sunlight exposure.

You can see more Polaroid transfer by visiting my website at or if you happen to be in the Smithsonian Museum this July 2008, Jane Linders is exhibiting a Polaroid transfer of St. Louis' own Eat Rite Diner.

1 response

  • Epin Hervin

    Epin Hervin gave props (29 Apr 2011):

    love this story. But I don't know because nowaday, apple apps can do anything

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