DIY: Turn Digital Photos into Vintage-like Prints with Mulberry Paper

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

What is it that makes vintage photos so inherently beautiful? It may very well be that they’ve been loved for so many years.

And while we’d like to wait around to watch our photos get lovelier and lovelier by the year, it’d take forevs. That’s why we dug our pal Helen Stead‘s idea so much!

She prints photos on mulberry paper, a translucent paper made from the bark of mulberry trees.

It’s the paper’s fabric-like texture that turns your normally crisp digital photos into stunningly soft, muted visions of yesteryear.

Thanks, mulberry paper, for saving us the 50 year waiting period.

Make Vintage Style Prints with Mulberry Paper

p.s. We’re hiring a full-time buyer (a.ka. a treasure hunter!) to join our team in San Francisco. Could it be you?

Why It’s Cool

before One of the best things about shooting analog is the mood that it captures with its quirks: light leaks, dreamy grain, unpredictability.

Printing on mulberry paper preserves just that. It’s something about the soft, semi-transparent texture of the paper that gives the photo an ethereal quality that regular glossy photo paper misses.

Another great thing about this project: anybody can do it at home. No need for a dark room or chemicals. Just a simple ‘ol inkjet printer.

What you need

  • An inkjet printer
  • A digital photo
  • A sheet of A4 mulberry or handmade paper
  • Glue stick
  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ printer paper

STEP 1: Pick your photo

Firstly, pick out a photo that you want to transfer. You might think about upping the contrast or saturation since detail can get lost in transfers.

If your photo is an old-school print from your film shooting days, scan it into the computer and save it as a digital file. Scan tip: scan your photo at 300dpi at the size you want to print it.

STEP 2: Prep your paper

beforeThis project works really well with both mulberry paper and handmade paper. Both are textured and that’s what adds extra bit of awesome to your photo transfer.

You can find both at art shops, craft shops and shops that specialize in paper.

With your glue stick, lightly glue a piece of printer paper to your A4 mulberry or handmade paper. Since mulberry paper isn’t as stiff as printer paper, this helps it run smoothly through the printer.

STEP 3: Print Your Pic

beforeMake sure you load your paper so that the photo prints on the mulberry side of your two glued sheets.

Print the image as you would normally on regular printer paper.

STEP 4: Peel It Apart

beforeYour photo’s printed! And it looks rad, right?

Now, just peel the printer paper off the back of your mulberry sheet, and your vintagey print is ready to fulfill its photo destiny. Plant it on your wall or frame it for a friend.

More Ideas to Try

  • Try transferring with transparencies for an even softer, dreamy image. Our inkjet transparency transfer tutorial. (Pictured above.)
  • Mulberry paper is sturdy enough to withstand stitching. Stitch a border instead of using a conventional frame.
  • Make more photo transfers with Impossible Project instant film (it’s like Polaroid)!
  • Layer images or words onto one sheet of paper for a digital analog collage!

Helen Stead is a mixed media artist who specializes in alternative photo processes. You can read about her adventures in printing here at The Creative Diarist.