Emulsion Lifts

Emulsion lifts are a classic technique in which film is peeled apart and the clear front panel is dipped in warm water to free the emulsion layer from the plastic. These free-floating emulsions can then be placed on various papers or other materials.

What you need

1 instant photo
1 or many soft brushes
1 pair of scissors
1 carrier surface (paper, wood, plastic, glass…)
1 bowl filled with hot water

How to do it

Step 1. Using scissors, cut the frame off your image. You will need to cut the very edges of your picture to remove the whole frame.


Step 2. Only keep the square photo.

Step 3. 
Plunge the image into the bowl of hot water and let it soak for 
approx. 1 minute.

Step 4. Start in one corner of the image and peel the positive from the negative part. The two parts should peel easily. If they don’t, plunge the image into the water for 30 seconds and try again.

Step 5. Remove the white negative part and keep the transparent positive part.

Step 6. To clean the remaining chemistry on the positive part, softly clean it in the water using a brush.

Step 7. Plunge the image into the water again for 1 or 2 minutes. Using a soft brush, remove the emulsion from the transparent foil.

Step 8. Remove the plastic sheet and keep the emulsion in water.

Step 9. The emulsion is now free from the plastic. You can touch it and hold the image in your hand!

Step 10. Notice that one side of the image is milky. Turn the image around so you don’t see this side.

Step 11. Using a brush, bring your photo back to life in water.

Step 12. Pick a carrier surface. It can be wood, plastic, glass, paper or even a mirror!

Step 13. Carefully slide the carrier surface under the emulsion.

Step 14. Using a brush or your fingers, position the emulsion on the carrier surface.

Step 15. Remove the image from water. You can still work on the emulsion as long as it is in the water, so you can hold one side of the image, plunge the other side in water and start again until you are satisfied with the result.

Step 16. If the carrier surface and the emulsion are still wet, you can work on the emulsion, create or remove wrinkles and new shapes with a brush or your fingers

Step 17. Let the emulsion lift dry for approximately 24 hours. The emulsion is now stuck on the surface!

You can also see how to transfer the emulsion onto different surfaces below: 

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