DIY: Picture to Wood Transfer

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’re probably not a stranger to my recent obsession with upcycling and other artsy crafty endeavors. Most of the projects I started are sort of cop outs though. I just basically steal ideas from Pinterest and ask trusty carpenters or other much more creative people to execute. This is the first actual diy that I’ve done on my own.

I ended up doing this particular endeavour by accident. When we were currently fixing the house and having furniture made, my husband suddenly decided that he would start a DIY project. It was pretty simple, he wanted to make his own art by wrapping wooden planks with fabric or pretty paper. So he asked our carpenter to make him 16 square planks from the left over wood. The problem was, he never actually started on his  DIY . So we had this pile of wood that was gathering dust and taking up space.

After a year, I finally got tired of waiting for him to start his masterpiece. So I just looked through my extensive collection of pinterest pins for something to do with the wood.  (I’m the biggest digital hoarder. I mindlessly save pegs just in case I need the information in the future.) I came across a couple of websites  and decided, it’s easy enough for a bumbling non-crafty person like me to try out. Among all my pins,  I find these three websites to be the most helpful: Oleander Creek, Craft Unleashed and Sew Creative). Since we (more me, actually) were too kuripot to have our wedding pictures framed, I opted to use those for my new diy. I’m no better than my procrastinator husband though, since it actually took me another freakin’ year to start on the project.

Finally, after sourcing for a reliable printer and scouring the internet for the stuff that I needed, I decided to give it a go. Disclaimer however, wood transfer is not an exact science. And I mucked  up (and continue to muck up) a lot.  (It was pretty dumb of me to take on 16 pictures on my first attempt anyway.) But it’s also rewarding when you actually churn out nice, albeit accidental, pieces of artwork. Each piece being different from the next. So totally worth a go in my book. 🙂

WHAT YOU NEED

1. Wooden plank/s (size depends on you)

2. Gel Medium

Gel medium. I bought mine from Deovir Arts. They have several branches online, but I purchased this, along with the Mod Podge and Paintbrush via Deovirarts.com. (Side note: if you don't find any of these items, you can message them via the special orders tab. They reply pretty quickly).

Gel medium. I bought mine from Deovir Arts. They have several branches around Metro Manila, but I purchased this, along with the Mod Podge and paintbrush, via Deovirarts.com. (Side note: if you don’t find any of these items in their page, you can message them via the special orders tab. They reply pretty quickly).

3. Mod Podge (or any kind of  liquid glue, I’m guessing, I like Mod Podge though  because it doesn’t streak, clump and it gives out a glossy finish)

I  bought the original one, which gives a glossy finish. Also bought from Deovir Arts.

I bought the original one, which gives a glossy finish. Also from Deovir Arts. 

4. Paint Brush (if you’re working on more than one picture, it’s better to use two. One for the mod podge and another for the gel transfer)

5. Sponge or an old towel

6. Laser print copy of the picture (should be the size of the wood you’re going to use), printed in reverse (especially important if you have words on your picture!)

Notice that I had them print the picture in reverse...

Notice that I had them print the picture in reverse…

7. Old expired credit/membership card (optional)

8. Patience, lots and lots of it.

WHAT TO DO: 

1. Brush on a generous amount of gel medium (2 thin coats should do the trick) on the wood. Some people recommend brushing it directly on the picture. I prefer brushing it on the wood because the paper kinda wrinkles when you place gel medium directly on it.  Make sure you spread it evenly too and don’t forget to apply on the edges of the wood. FullSizeRender 2

2. Take your picture and place it image down on the wood.

3.Smooth out as much as possible to make sure there are no air bubbles. You can use an old card to smooth those air bubbles out.

4. The picture has to be exactly the size of the wood, so cut out excess portions if needed.

5. Leave overnight. (Some people say 5 hours should do the trick, but I’m more comfortable leaving it overnight)

Notice that this particular piece has an air bubble forming on the upper right side of the picture. Tsk, tsk.

Notice that this particular piece formed an air bubble on the upper right side of the picture. Tsk, tsk.

6. The next day, dampen a towel with warm water. Place it on the picture for 5 mins. You can also take a wet sponge and dab the picture with this.

I used a warm, damp towel instead of a sponge.

I used a warm, damp towel instead of a sponge.

NOW COMES THE FUN BUT MOST TEDIOUS PART: (YOU MAY WANT TO DO STEPS 7&8  on a sink. This can get really messy)

7.  With a damp index finger, start rubbing off the paper until you see parts of the picture coming out..

8. When you’re done, let it air dry. You might notice that little clouds of paper still adhering to the image. So just repeat process #8, until necessary. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Your picture will have this cloudy appearance until you have successfully rubbed the all paper residue off.

Your picture will have this cloudy appearance until you have successfully rubbed all the paper residue off.

9. When you’re satisfied, make sure that your work is completely dry, then brush on some Mod Podge for extra protection. As an added bonus, Mod Podge (at least the regular one) gives your picture a nice,  glossy, professional -looking  finish.

Mod Podge makes sure that image permanently sticks to your wood. It also gives a nice, glossy, picture-looking finish

Mod Podge makes sure that the image permanently sticks to your wood. It also gives a nice, glossy, picture-looking finish

ALL DONE.

My finished

My finished “works of art”, all with varying degrees of booboos.

Probably one of the more polished -looking ones.

Probably one of the more polished -looking ones.

My first attempt, not only did I get a multitude of air bubbles, I got really frustrated and started rubbing the picture off with the rough end of the sponge. It looks like a scorned ex-boyfriend decided to perform voodoo on the picture. The husband thinks it has a mysterious, I-sank-in-the-Titanic feel though, so he thinks this is a keeper.

My first attempt.  Not only did I get a multitude of air bubbles, I got really frustrated and started rubbing the picture off with the rough end of the sponge. It looks like a scorned ex-boyfriend decided to perform voodoo on my picture. Husband thinks it has a mysterious, I-sank-with-the-Titanic feel though, so he thinks this is a keeper.

ROOKIE MISTAKES

Ok, I’m not sure if I’m just an arts and crafts dud but I haven’t come up with a picture that’s totally “damage-free”. They end up tearing on certain parts, especially around the edges. I find that these imperfections give my “art work” a vintage feel, so I normally don’t mind them. It is a bummer when I end up scratching out  someone”s face though so I’m actually thinking of having some pictures reprinted and starting the process  all over again.

In the meantime, here are some rookie tips that could help you avoid the problems that I encountered:

1. This project works best with wood that has a more or less smooth surface.  The wood frames that I used were uneven and had natural crevices all over. Plus I carelessly just stacked them somewhere for over a year . (A couple of them even had permanent water marks because our helper mistakenly decided to place newly watered plant pots on top of them to protect our hard wood floor.) So, no matter how much gel medium I used, the pictures would not adhere to the uneven surfaces.

2. Avoid air bubbles. Air bubbles are your enemy!!  Air bubbles indicate that  there are certain portions of your picture that are not sticking to the wood. So naturally parts of the images in these portions won’t transfer properly.

3. Avoid the temptation of adjusting your picture if you ended up placing it off -center on the wood. Results are disastrous.

4. Use a clean paintbrush. Pretty duh I know. But I was working on 16 pictures. Plus, I was working in phases (4 pictures at a time) and  was using one brush for the gel medium and the Mod Podge.  No matter how much I vigorously cleaned the brush after using Mod Podge, globs wouldn’t come off.. Remember that you have to put the gel medium as evenly as possible, and a dirty, sticky brush just won’t work. (On a side note, if you need to clean a brush that has hMod Podge residue, check out this video.)

5. Cut edges of picture. Picture would stick best if there are no paper edges  sticking out. So if your picture isn’t exactly the size of your wood frame, or if you accidentally placed it  off centre (guilty), just cut the protruding portions out.

6. Avoid the temptation of putting on more mod podge/gel transfer when you start rubbing off the paper and you notice that certain portions are peeling. You will just end up with messy globs that won’t come off. And it will not prevent “un-transferred” portions from peeling .

7. Do not use any abrasive material to rub off the paper. In my case, I used my fingers so it’s more controlled. Other people use sponges so it’s faster. Just don’t use the rough portion of the sponge like i did in the beginning. 😛

GOOD LUCK!! 

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