Hey there! I am beyond blessed to be the wife of Mark Andrew and the stay-at-home-mommy of Quinn and Morgan! I love to decorate, create things, and generally make life more beautiful! Come join me, and let's see what we can make today!

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How to Transfer a photo onto Wood

I recently read a fantastic blog post (thank you, hubs, for showing it to me!) about how to transfer a photo onto wood.  You can head over to Digitial Photography School and read their post for a very detailed explanation of this process.  Or you can just stumble along with me and read my post! ;)

For this project you will need:

A laser printed photo

A scrap of wood, cut to size

An acrylic gel medium (I picked mine up at Michael's for about four dollars)

The first thing I did was choose a photo and print it on my laser printer.  Laser printer is the key here! Then I cut a piece of some reclaimed barnwood to the size I wanted, which was slightly larger than my photo.

Next, I applied a nice, even layer of the gel medium to the wood.  I was channeling Goldilocks here.  Not too thin, not too thick, but JUST RIGHT. Then I carefully placed my photo (which, again, is not a photo but a laser print out of my photo) face down and tried to get it as smooth as possible.  ***A couple of notes here: The tutorial that I read said to print the photo to the EXACT size of the wood.  I didn't want my photo to go all the way to the edge of the wood, so I did not do this.  What I should have done, however, was trim off the border around the photo, and you'll see why in a minute.  Also, in the tutorial, they were using new, smooth, unfinished (unstained) wood.  I wanted a very rustic look, so I went with the reclaimed wood.  The reclaimed wood posed two potential problems.  (I say "potential" because they didn't bother me, but some people might really be frustrated with them!) First, the reclaimed wood is quite porous, so it can be hard to get the print smooth, and the entire image might not transfer.  Second, the reclaimed wood was already stained (about 100 years ago!) and the image came out fairly dark.  Again, not problems for me, but something to consider if you try this project!

Not much to see, but still...

I let this dry over night, and in the morning my son helped me "roll" the paper off.  We removed the paper by getting it fairly wet with a rag, and then gently used our fingers to rub the paper off.

Now, this had all seemed so easy, so I was not sure that it was going to work! ;)  But as we kept rubbing off the paper, the image started to "appear", and it was soooooooooo cool!

We just kept wetting and rubbing, rubbing and wetting, and after about 20 minutes or so, the paper was almost entirely gone. You can see, however, that the white border from my print was also transfered to the wood.  Lesson learned.  Next time I will trim off any excess. 

I sanded the edges of the photo to get rid of the excess paper and gel.  Then I applied a very light coat of some Minwax stain that I had on hand.  The stain made any remaining hints of paper "disappear". At this point, you could consider your photo done.  However, I wanted to finish it off a bit and make it look old and well worn, so a applied some distressing ink to the edges.  Once that was dry, I rubbed some Annie Sloan soft wax onto the wood, and then buffed it off, giving the photo a more polished look.  ***Mod Podge makes tons of products (they even recently released a photo transfer medium!) and you could certainly finish your photo with Mod Podge for about $8 as opposed to $60 for the Annie Sloan was.  My MIL already had some wax, and that is what the tutorial I read recommened, so I used it.  But if I had to buy my own, I would have went for the Mod Podge!

I nailed a small, saw-tooth hanger to the back of the photo.

And she was ready to be displayed!

I love it!

This project was soooooooooooo easy!  Honestly!  I cannot wait to put a little spin on it and try out one of the many ideas bouncing around in the crazy space that is my brain!!! 

I have more posts lined up for you--if I can tear myself  my kids away from the pool long enough to post them! ;)

Last week the temperature here was over 100 degrees for about five days straight! We are enjoying the "cooler" weather this week, and we are always thankful for the Son!

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Reader Comments (2)

That turned out amazing! Thanks for sharing. I wonder how it would look if you were to turn your decorative cabinet hardware into these kind of projects? Just a thought. I wouldn't put any faces on them, but maybe like landscapes or close ups of flowers. I think I'm going to try that.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

The procedure of transferring a photo onto wood is a lengthy process, so proper guidance is must. This is really a fantastic and innovative idea. Photos are looking good. Photographers should learn this technique carefully for better image. The demand for wood photography is increasing, so it will be a good profession for photographers but the photographers should learn the procedure thoroughly for better painting.

November 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

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