Picture of Fabric Printing with Citra-Solv
Any photograph, image or design that looks good in black and white is a great candidate for printing with Citra-Solv. It's permanent, can be washed in the washer, takes about 2 minutes to do and it's cheap and easy. Once you start printing it's hard to stop because the possibilities are pretty endless.
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Step 1: What you need:

Picture of What you need:

1. Citra-Solv. They have an incredible website with product info, art stuff, order info, go here. If you live in the States you can find it at just about any Whole Foods. But save yourself a trip and go to their website if you live far from town. There are great ideas there that I didn't know about until after I wrote this 'ible.
2. Small shallow bowl
3. Cheap 1" or larger paint brush
4. Fabric you want to print on (this should be the smoothest fabric you can find - usually that means a tight weave, but experiment - if you don't have a lot of detail such as a photo you can use a looser
weave fabric.
5. An iron
6. Access to a copier that uses toner (most do, like a Xerox or Cannon etc.) This means a copier that ONLY prints in black.
7. Newspaper or something to protect your dining room table if need be
8. A big spoon, wooden or metal
9. Some pins
10. Images you want to print

Step 2: About Citra-Solv:

Picture of About Citra-Solv:
Citra-Solv must have some other uses besides being used to print images onto fabric but I don't know what those uses are unless I read the side of the bottle. You can do that if you want. I am not going to be pedantic and do it here.

All that matters to you and I is that it is pleasant to smell, but you still need to use it in a well ventilatied room or outside, and you should try not to get it on your hands - it doesn't burn but it's not good for you. Keep it out of your eyes obviously - OK, I read the side of the bottle. A little bit anyway.

There is more info about this in the ironing section - be sure to read that too.

Step 3: What to do next:

Picture of What to do next:
Make a bunch of copies (on a copier) of photos you like or images or designs. Until you get the hang of it keep your images to about 4" x 4" (10 mm) to start with. You will find that you get better the more you do, but in the beginning just use some junky fabric. It takes a little practice to know how hard to burnish, how secure the paper must be not to be moved while you are burnishing and how much Citra-Solv to use.

You can use images that you have on your computer (I am assuming I don't have to say anything about copyright stuff here, you know the drill by now - DONT COPY other's work without permission). Print them in black in white or color - it doesn't much matter as you are going to be making copies of them on the copier that will be in black and white.

You are then going to lay the image upside down, meaning that you will be looking at the back of the paper. Now secure it to the fabric with those pins from the supply list.

Step 4: Brushing on the Citra-Solv

Picture of Brushing on the Citra-Solv
Time to burnish.jpg
As you can see from the above photos the stuff is like water and it's easy to just wipe it across your upside down copy in under a second.

Step 5: Burnishing

Picture of Burnishing
This is where your spoon comes in. It can be a metal or a wooden one, but the idea is to rub and rub the spoon on the image. That rubbing pressure will make the ink, which has been turned into a liquid from the Citra-Solv, transfer to the fabric underneath.

Your printing/burnishing surface must be fairly hard - not as hard as a table and not as soft as a towel on top of a table; newspapers and a piece of fabric give about the right hardness. Think about how the paper would bend if you were burnishing on a really soft surface. Think about your lack of surface area on a really hard surface. Look for something to give you an in-between surface.

Step 6: Peeking

Picture of Peeking
bad image.jpg
bad one.jpg
this is better.jpg
In this step you take out all but one pin and take a peek to see how you are doing - is the image all there? Is is smeared? Is is dark enough? I can tell you from experience that once you get the hang of this kind of printing you will not want to take a peek because no matter how careful you are to place the paper back down just right, it usually shifts just a tad. The result is a blurry print.

But the reason I want you to peek at this point is because you are just practicing. Peek enough times and you will soon get to the point that you won't have to.

Step 7: Ironing

Picture of Ironing
Sometimes I don't remove the paper at all but iron right on it after burnishing. Sometimes I remove the paper and then iron. Sometimes I think I get a darker print if I iron right through the paper but I think more depends on the weave of the fabric.

Iron on a cloth to protect your ironing board. You are protecting it from smelling like Citra-Solv forever and also in case any ink goes right through your fabric.

I don't think it is a good idea to breath Citra-Solve fumes as they evaporate from the hot iron so you should do this outside or in a well ventilated room or wear a real gas mask. When I am working with it I tend to print many, many images on a piece of fabric so I wear a real gas mask, don't let this deter you from tying this 'ible. I use a lot so I take more precautions. It doesn't say anything on the bottle about it being harmful if inhaled (it does smell pretty good too) so it must not be, but it's just common sense to me. (Yes, I read the side of the bottle after all).

Step 8: Hints

Picture of Hints
top of bottle.jpg
barrie inside tshirt.jpg
Weave matters. The tighter the weave the more detail you will have in your print.

Poke just a small hole in the top of the Citra-Solv bottle so the stuff doesn't evaporate too fast and so you have more control as you pour it into that shallow dish.

Iron your fabric before you start printing because you really need a flat smooth surface.

If you are printing on a T-shirt put something inside the shirt so you don't have ink bleeding through to the back of the shirt.

I know you will ask but no, you cannot use this technique with stuff you print out from your inkjet printer. I tried it and nothing happens, no ink transfers because no ink dissolves. Laser printers I do not know about - try it and let us know.

An Addtional Note: I tried this technique with a color laser copy (not to be confused with a color laser print, which I have not tried yet) and there was no transfer at all. The color copy (from Kinkos) was a few years old. A brand new copy may have a dfferent effect.

Remember that if you are printing an image with words on it that they (the words) will print in reverse. Actually the image will print in reverse too. You probably already knew that but just in cae you didn't, make them backwards before you make your copy so you can read them. Some really great copiers have this feature - so if yours does, use it. You will only forget one time.

Step 9: The best step - you can wash it!

Picture of The best step - you can wash it!
out of the dryer and wash.jpg
Yes you really can. I have even tried to bleach it with no effect at all. It's on there for good.

Step 10: The End

Picture of The End
boring on it's own but good repete.jpg
Happy Printing. Don't hesitate to ask me questions, and please rate my Ible. Citra Solv has a great link to finding printers and copiers that work well - here.
txgraveseeker5 months ago

Thank you for sharing. I wonder if this could be done on a wood box? Have you tried other surfaces?

Ninzerbean (author)  txgraveseeker5 months ago
I don't see why not. Try it and post a pic. I have not tried other surfaces.
alice4kids4 years ago
This is an awesome project thank you for making it so simple! I am looking for summer projects and this is a perfect one to use with young high school girls!
Ninzerbean (author)  alice4kids4 years ago
Take pics and post them! Practice doing it yourself first so you know you have the right copies to work with. Read all the comments for help.
magali12115 years ago
any copier shop where they have these http://media.nbc4i.com/wcmh/gfx.php?max_width=300&imgfile=images/uploads/Cartridge.JPG machines would work? or do i have to ask for the machine brand? hope ypou understood my question! thanks
Ninzerbean (author)  magali12115 years ago
I am not familiar with that machine but as long as it copies in black and white and does NOT have the capability to copy in color it should be OK. Check out all the comments here to get an idea. Obviously when I wrote this I thought finding the right machine was the easiest part of this project, but technology being what it is and all I guess it is hard now to find a machine that just does one thing. It may take a bit of trial and error to find a decent old no frills machine that does nothing but copy in black and white.
xhudaman5 years ago
nice ible i was just wondering since i'd like to try this where can i pick up citri solv i've never heard of it before and i dont think i know of stores that carry it so please tell me where in toronto i can pick it up...and 1 more thing i have an hp photosmart if i use the scanner on it to copy the picture will it work?(the comments left me a little confused lol)
Check out the Citra-Solv website to find out where to buy it in Canada. No, your printer wont work, you have to use a copy from a carbon based toner copier. If in doubt go around town and get copies made from machines that only copy in black and white, make notes of where you got the copies and see which ones work. 
k thanks a lot u helped i will check their site
Ninzerbean (author)  xhudaman5 years ago
I didn't know my son had logged on before me and I needed to sign out and in again but that answer was mine (the author's) just so you know so it is right, just in case you were thinking just anyone answered you.
canciej5 years ago
i was so excited to find this post - i ran out and got the citra solve, got some copies of things made at staples, being sure to ask if the copies were made with toner like that of a xerox, which they said they were -but alas, i have had no luck.  nothing came off on to the fabric, even a little bit.  im super bummed.  has anyone figured out exactly why its not working?
Ninzerbean (author)  canciej5 years ago
The question to ask is if the copies are carbon toner based - most likely your copies were made on a laser copier because they want to give you the best resolution and quality. It's carbon toner you are looking for - it may help to ask if the machine just does black and white copies, if the machine does color it is most likely a big old wonderful expensive laser color copier (wish I had one for another project) but you want just a run of the mill carbon toner black and white copier for you copies. 
it worked!!!  found old school xerox copier and now i am printing away!  :)  havent mastered it even a little yet, but i am successfully printing my photos onto fabric.  thank you thank you thank you!! :)
Ninzerbean (author)  canciej5 years ago
Great! I was hoping to hear back from you, I am happy it is working now. Happy Printing!
ronmaggi5 years ago
 I tired this technique to transfer toner to a copperclad board, the toner just smeared all over. The citrasolv just sat on top and the toner swerled about during the burnishing process. The good news is that the sitrasolv removes toner from the board like no one's business. Also, I tried a LASER-PRINTED image on cloth, and it worked fine. The toner that a photocopier uses is identical to a laser printer. The only difference between the two is a laser printer uses a laser to de-energize the drum whereas a photocopier uses light reflected off of the original document.
redbaroness5 years ago
I need clarification. Is it true that an HP laserjet-type printout will not work with this technique? There is something about a photocopy machine's toner that is different from the office printer's toner?
Ninzerbean (author)  redbaroness5 years ago
Clarification: A laserjet type printout will work to make PHOTOCOPY of on a COPIER. You can copy anything you want to (remember copright laws please) but you can't use that origional - you need the copy - the photocopy. The laserjet type printout will NOT work with Citra-Solv. You need a PHOTOCOPY made on a toner based COPIER to do this trick, I am sorry for the confusion. There must be something different about the toners and ink and what nots and I don't know what it is other than just plain vanilla copies work. I have a Cannon copier from Costco, works fine. All the thing does is copy. Copies from a copier store work great, better actually as they make a better copy to begin with than my Cannon copier. Hope this helps. My point is that it doesn't matter how you come up with the image you want to print - you can sit on a copier for all that it matters, a photograph, a laserjetenginhellicopter printout, none of that matters - it only matters that you make a PHOTOCOPY of the image and use that PHOTOCOPY to print with the Citra-Solv. Not the original. Phew, I'm really sorry I confused everyone about this.
beamsta5 years ago
Hi there, i am currently busy painting a huge table cloth for a friend and have a wonderful photo of their family together that i want to have printed smack bang in the middle of the table cloth - and am i excited to come across this info!!! Thank you and God bless ya right outa yr cottin pickin socks my dear. Warm regards, Candy (beamsta)
Ninzerbean (author)  beamsta5 years ago
You're the first to notice my socks - I think that pic should have been the original "got milk" ad, good luck with your table cloth - practice practice practice first.
denimangle5 years ago
Great Job on the Ible....If you goggle Citra-Solv and go to their home page you can get coupons for Citra-Solv
Ninzerbean (author)  denimangle5 years ago
Wow, great to know, thanks for sharing!
jensenks5 years ago
Wondering if you could use a foam board (you know, the kind that has interlocking puzzle piece sides so you can lay them out on the floor - about 2'x2 would be a good surface for burnishing. Thanks for a fun one!
Ninzerbean (author)  jensenks5 years ago
No, it's too soft, the paper will bend - remember you are burnishing/pressing hard enough to get the ink to transfer to the fabric. You need a fairly hard surface with just a smidgin of padding, even a section of newspaper is sometimes all I use.
f.l.u.x5 years ago
Thank you Ninzerbean for an excellent instructable! You genuinely inspired me this morning. In fact, I think I'll be going to Home Depot after work today to pick up a bottle of Citra-Solv. I have my fingers crossed that the copier/scanner/printer machines at my work (both color and B/W) that use toner will work with your technique. I already have a bunch of ideas for cool t-shirt prints floating around in my head... all thanks to you! :-)
Ninzerbean (author)  f.l.u.x5 years ago
No! Stop! I was wrong about Home Depot, so sorry, I changed the 'ible to reflect this information, Citra-Solv should be there but they are not, check out their website to find a store near you.
gcamboim5 years ago
Can i make a color copy?
Ninzerbean (author)  gcamboim5 years ago
Yes, and no. The color laser copy I used did not print. If all you have is a color copy of what you want to print, you wil have to put it on a copier (like a Xerox) machine and make a black and white copy and then use that.
sturmey5 years ago
I wonder if that would work just as well with color laser prints? I'll have to try sometime.
kiwi_fella5 years ago
I think people are getting confused by the word "copy" as used above... Im sure Ninzerbean is refering to inverting the image... so if people want to use a Laser printer - flip your picture around (invert it, like a mirror reflection) in photoshop before you print it. Thank you for this instructable... i will definately give this a go!
Ninzerbean (author)  kiwi_fella5 years ago
No, but thank you for the help, I mean copy as in an origional put on a copier (like a Xerox machine) and a copy is made, you then use the copy for this transfer technique. Sorry for the confusion, I think the 'ible is clear but the comments tend to make the issue of copies and copies from a copier vs a printer unclear, thanks again.
digsretro5 years ago
The only printer I have access to that uses toner is a laser printer so I'm a little confused as to why you weren't sure if it would work with that. I'll try it anyway and get back to you. Good job!!
tamira5 years ago
This is awesome:) i can't wait to try it out