DIY Antique Inspired Packing Tape Transfers

Transform the look of your ceramics or glassware with easy and inexpensive packing tape transfers! Learn how to create antique inspired advertising pots and crocks with my free sheet of printables.

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This easy project is perfect if you're looking for inexpensive ways to create stunning home decor! I'm going to teach you how to create the look of antique ceramics using packing tape transfers! Don't love antiques? You can use any design that you find or create! Think personalized mugs, custom wedding decor, seasonal decor, etc.

I am a lover of anything antique, specifically creamy white ironstone. I also really like the look of antique food crocks with advertising labels but they're nearly impossible to find in the wild. For that reason, I came up with this super cheap way to add designs to my ceramics using packing tape transfers. It's really easy, and I'm sharing the step by step instructions below. Whether you like antique or modern (or anything in between), this is a great project to create removeable stickers to decorate your home with!    

Pieces of history

You might not know this, but antique food crocks, bottles and more (with gorgeous antique advertising) are being dug up from European landfills and collected by people the world over! These pieces are treasured by many people, but are nearly impossible to find unless you make an expensive trip to Europe! They are highly collectible, so extremely expensive to purchase. If you have no idea what I'm even talking about, take a look at these examples HERE and HERE

Now, you might think I'm crazy to want to decorate with something that advertises..say... bloater paste... um, what even is that anyway, lol! But I assure you I'm not the only one! Many people are enamored with the idea of owning a little piece of history. These antique pieces are the pickle jars and toothpaste tubes of an earlier century!

Part of what makes these old food and medicine crocks so desirable is that they are made of ironstone. Over time, they develop stains and crazing and, if you like that kind of thing, are pieces of beauty.

Faking the look of an antique

When you can't afford to buy expensive pieces, or you just can't find any in your price range, faking the look is the way to go! Even though these designs are just transfers make from cheap packing tape, I think they look surprisingly realistic! If you think so too, read on for the tutorial and free printable sheet of antique inspired advertising labels that I made to resemble the real version.

What is a packing tape transfer?

A packing tape transfer is simply a sticker or decal made from packing tape. The printed design is imprinted onto the sticky side through the easy method I'll share below. The decal is removable with little effort and leaves no residue behind. Packing tape transfers are a great way to create temporary designs for your decorative accessories. This could be especially fun if you like decorating for seasonal holidays (think numbers and/or pictures to turn plain ceramic pieces into Halloween spookiness, etc) are looking for easy ways to customize shower or birthday decor, or even giftable items like personalized mugs.

These sticky transfers work best on glassware and ceramics. You don't need to stick with black and white! Colored designs work just as well. Get creative with the designs you choose to print and transfer.

Laser Jet or Inkjet

One important thing to note before you start printing all the cute things. You must use a laser jet printer for this project. Unfortunately, the ink from an inkjet printer (ones that most of us use at home) is not water soluble, which means the design will not last once it gets wet. I save my designs to a flash drive and print them at Office Depot. It's inexpensive and that way I know my designs will transfer cleanly!

Okay, with that said, let me show you how to create the easiest decals using packing tape and how to transform your ceramics and glassware.

Supplies Needed:

  • printed design
  • scissors
  • bowl of water
  • packing tape
  • vessel of choice (glass or ceramic - see below for options)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • paper towel


I recently found this white milk glass mason jar at the thrift store, and thought it would be cute with a vintage inspired advertising design. Here is how to make these packing tape transfers to transform your housewares.

How to Make DIY Packing Tape Transfers

Step 1: Print and cut out design

Print designs onto regular copy paper. Use scissors to cut out the design. I like to cut as close to the printed design as possible.

Step 2: Cover with packing tape

Cover the design with a strip of packing tape. You may need an additional strip to cover the entire design. Make sure to slightly overlap the packing tape so the design stays together. Use something stiff like a credit card or craft stick to burnish the packing tape over the design, removing any air bubbles and just making sure it is securely stuck on.

Step 3: Trim design

Trim around the design again, making sure to cut off any of the sticky exposed tape.

Step 4: Add to water

Put your design in water, paper side down, for a few minutes to soften the paper. The edges will likely curl a little and this is normal.

Step 5: Remove paper backing

Put the wet design tape side down on a piece of paper towel and rub lightly with your finger to remove the paper. Don't rub too hard. Once you think you have it all off, put it back in the water! There is usually another lighter layer of paper that needs to be removed. Repeat as needed until all the paper has been removed.

Read on for tips and FAQs!
Once the transfer is completely clear (you can check this by looking at the front of your decal - any paper residue will show as white), set it aside to dry. You'll find that the stickiness disappears when the decal is wet. Once it's dry, this activates the adhesive on the packing tape and your design will be tacky like a sticker.

If you've got a detailed eye, you'll notice that my design changed between steps 4 and 5 above! That's because the original printed design I used was older and I couldn't remember if it was a laser jet print or not. Once it got wet, the ink bled and my design disappeared! 

For the best results, make sure whatever vessel you're going to apply the decal to is clean, free of fingerprints and any oils. The best way to do this is to clean it with a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and set it aside to dry completely while you're working on the transfer.

When the transfer is sticky once again, apply it to your vessel. You'll want to rub and press it from the inside out, to remove any air bubbles. 

Designer Tip: try to avoid a heavily curved vessel, as it will be difficult to get the transfer to lay flat.

I'm so pleased with how this vintage inspired lemon curd label looks on my thrifted milk glass mason jar. Doesn't it look like an antique?

Here are a few other ceramic items that I transformed with this easy packing tape transfer technique. I like that the crazing on this creamer shows through the clear transfer.

These Rae Dunn salt and pepper cellars have antique inspired potted meat decals on the back. Here's the before and after. I can just flip them around to display the side I want.

You can make a whole set of vintage inspired ceramic pieces to decorate with! Any ceramic or glass piece is just waiting for a packing tape transfer to transform it! Mugs, platters, plates, creamers, pitchers, vases, candleholders - anything with a smooth, hard surface. I found ceramic door knobs at our local Habitat ReStore and made vintage style packing tape rabbit transfers


I love using the vintage and antique designs, many of them authentic, from The Graphics Fairy. They are free for personal use. If you're a subscriber to DIY Beautify, you can download my printable sheet of antique-inspired designs for free! Not a subscriber yet? Sign up HERE.


The transfers can last indefinitely, especially if you're just using them on items for home decor that don't get daily use. If you applied them to say, a mug, they may come off when the mug is hand washed, but if so, just set aside to dry and you can reuse them!


Yes! They are like a cling-on sticker, without that annoying adhesive on the back! You can easily peel them off and reuse on another vessel, or save to reapply later.

I really hope you enjoyed this project and try making packing tape transfers to use in your home decorating! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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  1. Love this project! I am a subscriber, however I do not seem to be able to find your library!?!

    1. Hi Shirl, thank you! The link is always at the bottom of the Sunday newsletter. If you need it now, send me your email and I'll email it to you right away!

  2. These vintage label transfers look so authentic! Goodness how I love this look. Thanks for offering a way so we can make our own!

  3. Well, you've just helped every person out there with a Rae Dunn collection. And I must say your side is waaaaay cuter! Love how amazing they look. You make it look easy but something is wrong with me. I'm so intimidated by things like this. I need a computer lesson. And a flash drive. Maybe that should be my New Years goal?! Loved this post and the fun idea.

  4. This is such a fun idea. I need to try this. Hugs and blessings to you. Merry Christmas, my friend.

  5. Cindy this is such a cool idea! I have not seen this before. The transfers are so real looking I had to double take. Genius! And Merry Christmas!

    Kelly @thetatteredpew

  6. Hello, I'm a subscriber but I don't recall getting access to the free printables, especially the antique labels.s

  7. Cindy:
    Oops, looking for free antique labels, buy forgot to give my name: Anna at


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