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How to Print on Tissue Paper (and why you’d want to)

Images printed on tissue papers

Printing on tissue paper creates amazing craft opportunities

Have you ever tried to decoupage with card stock, only to find that the paper was too thick and bulky? Cardstock is great for cards, and it’s great for a lot of other crafts, but it’s not great for decoupage. It’s difficult to maneuver over edges, and it causes drips when the glue is brushed over, not to mention you can see the edges of the paper, which is less than ideal. It’s just clunky in general, giving a rather “grade-school” appearance to the project. This tutorial is going to show you how to print on delicate tissue paper which, when decoupaged, practically “melts” onto the surface you’re decorating.

Why tissue paper?

I’m not talking about the “atchoo” kind of tissue, I’m talking about gift wrap tissue – the kind you get at the dollar store in the gift-wrap section. It’s semi-transparent and a little goes a long way. If you have it on hand, this project will cost practically nothing. This is a good time to repurpose that tissue you saved from last Christmas!

Sure, you could buy ready-made printed tissue paper, but I’ve seen some sites sell them for as much as $10 PER SHEET. Ack! I’d be terrified of making a mistake! Wouldn’t you rather make your own?

Printing on tissue paper is the perfect opportunity to start using those digital stamps and papers you’ve purchased but haven’t really known what to do with. Or maybe you have a large collection of digital stamps and paper, yet you’ve only been printing them on regular card stock. Learning how to print on tissue paper will expand your crafting options by an enormous degree. You’ve practically doubled your paper options! All those yummy patterns now on tissue as well as card stock!

How to use printed tissue paper

Tissue paper is semi-transparent, and once glued to a surface becomes almost completely transparent. Some perfect projects for printed tissue paper include:

Decoupage isn’t the only craft that uses printed tissue paper. Other tissue paper crafts include:

  • Paper flowers
  • Tissue paper collage
  • Window shades
  • Paper mache
  • Kites
  • And more

The options really ARE unlimited!

Supply list:

  • Dollar-store tissue paper
  • Iron
  • Adhesive (glue stick, Scotch Magic Tape, artist’s tape)
  • Printer paper (legal or standard size)
  • Computer/printer

It’s frustrating to learn a new project from a computer (or smartphone) screen. And printing web pages wastes ink with a lot of extra junk. I can help! You can Learn How to Print on Tissue Paper right here in this handy PDF file. It contains the full tutorial (including pictures) without all the gobbledygook that printed web pages contain. You can print it and take it with you to the craft store or your craft room. This handy tutorial can go wherever you go.

You can purchase the file for $2 right here!

Mockup of post title


Or get it FREE by filling out this form.

3 easy steps to printed tissue paper

Step 1

Cut a piece of tissue paper slightly smaller than the size of your printer paper. You want to leave a slight margin of printer paper for the printer to “grab” onto. Iron the piece of tissue with a warm, dry iron. (No steam!) You want to keep wrinkles to a minimum.

Ironing the tissue paper to smooth out wrinkles

Step 2

Adhere tissue to printer paper at all four corners, dull side up (see Notes below). For adhesion, there are differing opinions here. I’ve used Scotch Magic Tape in the past, with excellent results. However, my current printer doesn’t have manual feed (very annoying!), and I don’t want to risk tape getting jammed in the auto feed. So I use the tiniest bit of glue stick on the four corners of the tissue paper. Just the tiniest bit will do.

I’ve tried the freezer paper technique (see Notes), which I’ve heard gives great results. But I couldn’t get the papers unstuck afterward. You might have better results.

Some people use artist’s tape, which comes off the paper nicely. But for me, it’s glue stick all the way, because even if the corners of the paper tear off, that’s ok – it doesn’t affect the design.

Step 3

Feed through printer as normal, and print.

Paper feeding through printer

And voila, a lovely sheet of digital images on tissue paper as well as a sheet of pretty digital paper.

Images and digital paper, both printed on tissue
Still on the printer paper backing

A note on image placement

If you only want to print sheets of digital paper, no image placement is needed. But if you’re printing clip art, you’ll need to arrange those images on a single page. I design my image placement on my Silhouette Cameo, but you can use the software of your choice. Cricut Design Space is good. But you don’t need an electronic cutter for this. If you have Photoshop, use that. Or try Gimp, a free “image manipulation” program.

A few notes about printing on tissue…

1. Sometimes the printer will “grab” the tissue paper and cause a bit of wrinkling. These wrinkles can be easily ironed out. I figure they’re a small price to pay for the luxury of having all the designer tissue I’ll ever want or need.

2. If the print smudges because of too much ink (some machines print heavier than others), try printing on the “draft” or “economy” setting. And it’s always a good idea to let the ink dry overnight, or at least for an hour or two before decoupaging. A heat tool would help if you need to craft right away. Also, make sure you’re printing on the dull side, which absorbs more ink than the shiny side. Yes, tissue paper has both kinds of sides. (Who knew?)

3. If using the freezer paper technique, iron the tissue paper (on low, no steam) to the “business” side of the freezer paper, trim it to size, run it through the printer and peel it off afterward. The iron will melt the freezer paper to the tissue paper just enough but is supposed to peel off easily afterward. Mine didn’t, but it does work for some. Maybe I pressed too hard, but the tissue paper was firmly attached and no amount of re-ironing would make it come loose.

4. Most of the images and papers in my collections come from two of my favorite sources, Gecko Galz, and The Graphics Fairy.

Print on tissue paper to multiply your crafting options

Now that you know how quick and easy printing on tissue paper really is, take your paper crafting to the next level and create some beautiful tissue paper crafts of your own. Don’t forget to share them on the G&B Facebook page!

Images printed on tissue papers
Images waiting to be torn and glued

Projects using printed tissue paper…

Painted Canvas for Mom – the Queen of Ever’thang
Vintage Look Holiday Christmas Blocks
DIY Decoupage Wood Christmas Block

Craft on!


Save it for later!

Pinterest cover for how to print on tissue paper

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