How To: Emulsion Lifts

Dr J Caldwell, editor and chief at Fixation Magazine, joins us on the blog today with another How To video. This time he goes over emulsion lifts and shows us just how easy it is to transfer an image into a unique work of art.

Materials needed:

A Polaroid or Impossible Project exposed image. Can also be done with pack film prints.


Paint brush and tongs

A container large enough to hold the image

A clean surface to work the emulsion back straight

Boiling water

Final surface for emulsion transfer. (glass or watercolor paper)

Don’t worry if you miss a step in the video, we will list them all under the video along with some examples of other peoples work.



Steps to a successful emulsion lift:

1. Get some water boiling on the stove

2. Cut the frame away from your image so that you are left with just the square image. Same goes for pack film, cut away the frame.

3. Peel the black backing off of the image. Skip for pack film image.

4. Under water, gently rub off the white film from the back of the image. Skip for pack film image.

5. Place image in your container with the emulsion side up.

6. Carefully pour the boiling water over your image until the image is fully submerged.

7. Using your art brush, gently start to separate the emulsion layer from the plastic protection layer. (the emulsion is pretty tough, but can be torn of not careful)

8.Once you have completely separated the emulsion from the plastic, remove the plastic and discard.

9. Depending on your final presentation, I will list two steps here.

a. If mounting to glass, pour emulsion layer onto glass and use a brush to straighten back up.

b. If mounting to water color paper, place paper in a tray that will hold the size paper you are transferring to. Pour image onto paper and start the same process as above. once the image is straight, you can use quarters to hold the corners in place as you lift the paper from the tray.

10. Allow to dry and enjoy.

Here are some emulsion lifts from friends of the blog. Dr J Caldwell, Neal Carpenter, Jen GolaySiebe Warmoeskerken and Francisco Chavira.

Francisco Chavira PX680 Color Protection, Impossible Project Instant Lab

Francisco Chavira PX680 Color Protection, Impossible Project Instant Lab


  1. […] durable, and is easier to work with, this process can be done with Impossible Project film as well. Snap It | See It published a great little tutorial awhile back. i tried a few with IP prints, but none were post-worthy. they were much harder to […]

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