I am lucky enough to live in a place that truly gets to experience each of the four seasons. In my opinion,Fall is the most beautiful. The colors expressed by nature are so warm and inviting, evoking thoughts of evenings spent around the fire with family and friends, caramel apples and comfort food.
This is no doubt one of the reasons I love photographs of the fall leaves, and the inspiration behind our latest DIY project. Transferring a photograph to wood is a fun and unique way to display your favorite images.
My love of fall colors is not the only reason that a foliage photo is perfect for this project. When choosing an image to transfer, it is very important to select something that will be okay if little bits and pieces don't come through perfectly. For example, I once did a photo transfer for my Grandmother. It was a family photo that she loved, and I wanted to do something more than simply frame it for her. I quickly learned that pictures of people can be very risky. When I made it through the whole process and revealed the image, it turned out that my cousin had lost half of her face! Moral of the story: landscapes are ideal for this fun project.
So... the first step is to find an image you really like. I am a terrible photographer, which you may have already noticed ;-), so I picked one out online.
You need the image printed out on regular paper, from a laser printer. If you don't know whether your printer is laser or ink jet, it is probably ink jet. Mine is, so I emailed it to Staples and they printed it for me. I don't remember exactly what it cost but it was less than $1.00.
** If you choose an image with text, you will need to reverse the image prior to printing!
Next you need to select the piece of wood you will be transferring to. We always have a rather strange assortment of scrap wood around, and I ended up building something out of wood floor drop offs.
Cut out the picture so it is just a little bit bigger than the wood you are transferring to .
This is Liquitex Matte Gel Medium. It is the awesome product that makes this transfer possible. Apparently it is not a super common craft item and I actually had a lot of trouble finding it. None of the staff at JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby seemed to know what it was so I ended up getting it from Amazon, here.
Using a paintbrush, apply a thin even coat of the gel. It doesn't need to be perfect but make sure you don't miss any spots.
Flip your picture over and carefully lay it over the gel. Don't press it down until you make sure that it is overlapping each edge and roughly centered the way you want it.
Once you have it set where you want it, press it down and smooth it out. Then take something like a credit card and really smooth it down, making sure that you don't leave any bubbles behind.
When you think it's all set, leave it alone for 8-10 hours or until it is thoroughly dry.
Now you need to literally wash the paper off of the back. The ink will stay behind having now been transferred to the wood/gel.
Using a wet-ish washcloth or soft sponge, get a small portion of the paper wet and then gently rub. Too wet and you run the risk of re-saturating the gel and therefore losing the ink, too dry and you will be stuck doing this step for a very long time. I know I am making it sound complicated but it really isn't. Just start on the too dry side and go from there.
I find that rubbing in a circular motion seems to work a bit faster. This is what will start to happen.
Eventually you will get to the point that the image is completely visable again. Then you will have to decide how particular you are going to be. Here you can see that enough paper remains to give a foggy effect. Obviously you want to remove as much of that as you can but if you continue rubbing too hard or too long you will wear right through the image itself.
It is a fine line. Some of that foggy effect looks good with the picture, but not too much... and some level of rubbing right through the image looks good, but again, not too much.
Here you can see that some parts of the leaves have not transferred well, but it adds to the overall look and feel of this project, giving it that aged and distressed feel.
You can also see the way the wood grain is visable through the image which really adds to it.
When you are finished removing the paper, allow the wood to dry and then sand it down. You may or may not want to VERY lightly sand over the image itself, to add to that distressed look.
And you will probably want to sand the edges and corners to soften the edge of the image.
If you would like to be able to hang this on the wall, add a saw tooth hanger to the back. In doing so, be sure to lay the piece on a towel or something so that hammering won't cause unwanted distressing to the image.
Because I did this as a rainy day project, I could not find decent light inside to take a final picture, so I ducked outside between rain storms. Sorry for the strange "after" picture.
Now I think I'll go get some hot apple cider :-) ... Happy Crafting!