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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Moving to Subic… Finally!

 Fast forward from my last Subic post. We had finally gotten married! Yey!! We wed, we partied, we conquered.  Now it’s back to the real world.

We stayed an extra night in Kamana after the wedding then checked out the following day. The nice people in the resort offered to extend another complimentary night, but we were both eager to roll up our sleeves and get our moving on, so to speak. In hindsight, I regretted that over-eager decision. Another extra night in a sea view luxury hotel with ROOM SERVICE wouldn’t have hurt. Not one bit.

It was a 30 minute drive to Kalayaan Heights, our new village. The minute I stepped into our new house, reality sunk in. I was living with a boy!!! I wanted to cry.

Take note that my husband lived in this house for two whole years before we got married.  I was expecting to see some stuff but the place was completely empty!!! I could literally count the number of objects  he had inside:

1. There was an  old bed that was there even before he moved in  (which, by the way I found disgusting. That bed had been there for years! Who knew what action and mystery excretions were left in that mattress. He even used the same sheets!!!!!!!)

2. An old refrigerator (He did not have anything in the inside. Not even a pitcher of water. Okay, change that. There was one bottle of Yakult. It was 2 months expired. He told me that the refrigerator did not keep stuff cool anymore, that’s why he didn’t like using it. More on that later).

3. A rickety dining room set

4.  A couple of side tables

5.  A dying stove

6.  A center table (there were no couches or seats in the living room. Just a center table. Go figure.). 

7. An old, 90’s style television set (WITH CABLE!! Yey! This made our maid so happy).

He bought some kitchen stuff when he moved in, so we had plates that were in mint condition and some usable utensils.  There was also a  a kitchen knife, a can and a bottle opener and a rice cooker. (Okay, this is what I don’t get. We bought that rice cooker  prior to his moving. And he barely cooked. I had no idea how it had become worn out and why that kitchen knife was falling apart).

I knew the house was bare, but I didn’t really realise how neglected (for the lack of a better term) it was until I was about to move in. Don’t get me wrong. My husband is a pretty neat person, and the house itself wasn’t dirty. (Even though it’s probably only been cleaned four times in the two years he’s lived there.) But I guess that was the problem. He had left  it practically untouched that entire time.

It was obvious that he literally just stayed there to sleep. It had that musty, vacation-house smell that was characteristic of empty living spaces. There were also a lot of stuff that he did not bother to know about the house. For instance he did not bother to check that most of the plugs did not work ( if they did, they were 110 volts) nor  did he have any idea how certain built-in gadgets, such as the washing machine and the water heater, turned on. (Come to think of it, I don’t think he even knew whether they were working). 

Surveying the grounds brought even more dismay. The yard was filled with overgrown grass and weeds. Knowing that we were in the middle of a forest, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had a snake underneath that mess (Eep! We did have a snake! Our maid found one when  we finally got around to having the grass cut. Thankfully it was dead. Probably got suffocated by all the dead leaves).  And the bathroom and bedroom outside the house, which our new maid was supposed to use, was covered in dirt. (Truth be told, I was more concerned about our future maid’s welfare than I was about me. I didn’t want her to take one good look at the house, decide she can’t take our “minimalist” lifestlye and leave).

Needless to say,  I knew it was going to be a rough first night for us newlyweds.

Prior to moving in, I had asked our driver to at least bring a spare queen-sized mattress I kept in my room, some sheets and my bedroom pillows. (There was no way I was going to sleep in that decade old mattress!!)  But other than that, we had NOTHING. Minutes after dropping off our bags, we went out again. This time to buy stuff.

We slept in this mattress for a few days after we got married. It's actually comfier than it looks, so it wasn't so bad. My husband did not appreciate being on the floor though. I'd take this over a decade old bed any day.

We slept in this mattress for a few days after we got married. It’s actually comfier than it looks, so it wasn’t so bad. My husband did not appreciate being on the floor though. I’d take this over an unknown person’s bed any day.

Buying stuff in itself was a quandary and production.  Both of us had to figure out what we ABSOLUTELY had to have to make it through the next week or so.  Thanks to our generous family and friends, we were given some money to spend on new furniture and appliances.   But we had spent a huge chunk of both of our savings on the wedding so I personally didn’t want to spend more than was absolutely necessary (I may be a priss, but I’m a practical priss). Plus, we had also gotten some house stuff as gifts but not all of them have been delivered. It seemed like a huge waste to buy a lot of things only to realize that we were about to receive similar gifts later on.

After much deliberation we bought the following items:

  1. A new bed (An absolute must!! The cheapskate in me though, chose the cheapest,  decent  bed we could find. It cost us a whopping 9000 bucks! Mighty proud of that fact and would brag to anyone who would listen).
  2. A mattress (This was my idea of a splurge because we had my almost -new mattress at home. But my husband really wanted a brand new one, so fine. He slept in a gross mattress for 2 years anyway, so he deserved it).
  3. A small  oven that could microwave, grill and  convection (At that time, I didn’t know what convection meant. It sounded fancy though, so I was sold!  :P)
  4. A refrigerator (Ok, this caused a lot of debate. I was insisting that his refrigerator at home would suffice in the meantime. He said it hardly kept anything cool—it was only when we had bought the new refrigerator  and were installing it did we discover that it was plugged to a 110 volt socket. Facepalm).
  5. A water dispenser
  6. Cleaning materials like rags, disinfectants, deodorizers, soaps etc.
One of our first pieces of furniture. Yey! Ofcourse, we did not waste any time sticking our pictures on it.

This decent-sized refrigerator (Don’t ask me how many cubic inches) was one of our first pieces of furniture.  Believe it or not, sticking pictures on the refrigerator  was my husband’s idea, not mine. He even chose the zebra magnets. Good job!  (Photos taken and printed by our prenup photographer, Joshua de Guzman)

Our fancy microwave. It also has grill and convection functions. It took me a day to figure out how to even figure how to work the convection function, but it was a pretty good buy.

Our fancy oven. It took me a day  to even figure this thing out (prior to my getting married, I had never even opened a microwave,  I was that much of a princess), but it was a pretty good buy. By the way, I was making some ribs dish when this picture was taken. It was my first time to do anything kitcheny on my own, so I was freaking out. I actually stood guard in front of the oven until the ribs were cooked.  I called a tech service guy before I used it and he said it was perfectly fine to use aluminium foil inside as long as it’s on PURE convection function.  I did not believe him, but  did it anyway. So I took a picture of the oven  to show him that I was doing it the way he taught me just in case it exploded (for warranty purposes, you understand).

Our awesome 9000 php bed with our new mattress. Pillows were wedding gifts. Sheets bought from Royal Subic by my husband as a mini surprise for our boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary a few months later. I was coveting these sheets, but I was too stingy to buy them.

Our awesome 9000 php bed with our new mattress. Pillows were wedding gifts. Sheets bought from Royal Subic by my husband as a mini surprise for our boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary a few months later (at that time I was obsessed with sheets and was looking at this set for quite a while but was too stingy to get it).

The following day,  with the help of a couple of people that we hired, the house was finally clean.  (And yes, mom and relatives, I did not sit there and command my troops like you’re probably picturing in your head. I did more than my fair share of cleaning and scrubbing).

On a sidenote, our helper came a few days later, and we were also able to procure new stuff for her so she doesn’t think that we’re heathens Thankfully, our new maid was a trooper and stuck with us. We also gave her the one and only tv that we had in the house. Having access to all her telenovelas probably contributed to her staying power.

Anyway, believe it or not, we lived in that almost-empty house,  with just the stuff written above,  for quite a while. It took us months to be able to buy/transport all the things that we needed.
And this prissy princess turned reluctant housewife learned a few lessons from this first quarter of our marriage:

  1. All these “essentials” that I thought I needed didn’t really matter. You could live quite comfortably with just a few basics in the house. Everything else is fluff.
  2. It is much more practical to buy stuff as you go along living together. There were quite a few things that we thought we would need that we ended up discarding, and quite a few things (mainly kitchen things, we’re both duds in the kitchen) that we thought were just luxuries that we ended up needing.
  3. Don’t force yourself to have pretty decorations /furniture immediately. If you buy these things from the start, not only will your budget get mucked up with nonsensical, rushed, mediocre finds, you will end up having too much stuff as time passes.  I also realised that a house will look richer (and I mean richer in a non-monetary, interesting kind of way) if you buy these little things in unexpected places (such as flea markets when you’re traveling, hole in the wall places that you accidentally discover etc) instead of just getting them all in one generic department store.
  4. If you have the time and a trusty carpenter, it’s actually cheaper and   more enjoyable to hire someone to make or refurbish your stuff.  Most of the furniture we have now, were hand-me-downs from my old nailspa. We just had them reworked and repainted. The tables and some benches, we had made. It’s fun because you get to choose the dimensions, materials and the colors you want. Plus,  given the materials used,  it’s a fraction of the cost of even reasonably priced department stores.
  5. Living a near-bare house adds dimension to your relationship. This sounds cheesy I know, but we actually got closer because we didn’t have a lot of things to begin with. At its most basic, we lived with no television and no form of entertainment for quite a while. So we were forced to talk and talk and talk and talk. There’s also something about making lists of things that you needed, going around and checking at stores (at leisurely pace—not at a we’re -about- to -get married -we -have -nothing -pace) that makes you discover new things about each other.  You get to relearn and discover each other’s priorities and tastes. Plus, we got to practice compromising. So in hindsight, I’m pretty glad we did things the way we did. It wasn’t exactly how I pictured our supposed honeymoon period to be like, but it was a great much-needed first lesson on the reality of marriage .
Yes, you don''t need a lot of  things to make a home but moving day made us so happy anyway. My uncle hooked us up with a HUGE truck. We had more than enough space for all our stuff.

Yes, you don”t need a lot of things to make a home but moving day made us so happy anyway.  My awesome uncle hooked us up with a HUGE truck. We had more than enough space for all our stuff.

We finally have seats in the living room!  Yey! I had these couches repainted and had new covers made a few months later.

We finally have seats in the living room! Yey! I had these couches repainted and had new covers made a few months later. (And just incase you’re wondering, we gave my husband’s center table back to SBMA. :P)