Introduction: Photo Transfer Onto Wood
Recently many people have asked me how to put an image onto a piece of wood, and what I suggest using and how I personally do it. It's not very complicated once you know what you are doing and I highly suggest you read all steps before starting and look back at each step as needed. The supplies I use are much cheaper than what else you can use and you still get a great look. And they go a long way. And some supplies you will need you may already have. In this demonstration I do some things I wouldn't suggest to show what you can do if you forget something and simple human error happens, It's pretty forgiving. This project will take roughly 2 days, but not to worry it is just waiting time. If you follow my instructions you can have it done and ready to go within 1 hour of working time, though you will require at least 8 hours of waiting. What I do is start before going to sleep that way it is ready to continue when I wake up. Difficulty can vary from 1/10 to 5/10. Some optional steps can make it significantly harder but is completely optional.
Step 1: Supplies!
What your going to need is:
A photo to transfer onto the wood, I suggest something replaceable, I do not recommend using a very important family photo. I just printed a picture onto a piece of standard printer paper
A Brayer - Which is a roller. You can use almost anything instead of this. This is just my personal favorite because I dislike the other options which include a credit card, or anything sturdy and flat.
Photo transfer medium - What I use is Mod Podge, It can be found at any craft store and usually comes with a foam brush, which you will need two of.
Two Foam brushes - These are extremely cheap and findable at craft stores as well and if you are lucky you can get them on sale for about 7 cents for one instead of the normal 49 cents.
A piece of wood - This can be any piece of wood really, I prefer a the oval wood with the bark on the sides but you can get something like a plaque. I suggest you use wood that has been sanded to avoid any potential issues unfinished wood can cause
A sealer - This can be any kind of sealer I again went with Mod Podge's matte finish sealer, Mod Podge offers a large selection of different sealers that include gloss or antique if you want a older look. I personally don't mind matte. You do not have to use a sealer but I would suggest it to avoid damage from time. I personally have never not sealed it, particularly because it prevent fraying.
Step 2: Picking Your Image
You can use anything really, a friend of mine wanted a Seahawks one so I went with the Seahawks logo. You need to flip your image horizontally, think of it as a mirror, unless you do not care what it's orientation is. But words will become flipped if you forget to flip it horizontally. You also need to make sure your image will fit how you would like it. What I did was use print preview and eye balled it with a actual piece of paper till I found a size I found appropriate. And do not forget that if you enlarge an image I turns it more pix elated and makes it look worse.
After printing out your image you will want to trip the paper excess paper unless you want to have a white surface, I personally wanted to keep the wood surface so that I could wood burn it later, You want to trip as close to the image as possible, the further you trim away from the image the larger the hassle is later. In mine I left not too much space but it took me over 2 hours to remove the excess paper after transferring the image.
Step 3: Apply Your Transfer Medium to the Image
You will not use your foam brush to whip the medium onto the image. The ink not the backside of the paper What I do is put a large glob in the middle and spread it out. Be sure to always brush outwards to avoid picking up your image. And you will want to do this on a different surface than the one plan on placing it. But if you do do it on your piece of wood I will show you how to get rid of excess medium later, but it adds to your work load so it is best to just do it on something else, I suggest a hard surface to ensure you get an even coat.
Make it thick. If you need more medium don't be afraid to apply more you want to barely be able to see the image.
Step 4: Put Your Image on Your Wood Medium Down
After putting your image in the position you would like you need to make sure there are no air bubbles. So use your Brayer and roll it across your image to make sure it is perfectly smooth. I highly suggest making sure your surface is clean before putting your image on it, because any dirt or dust will be permanently on your image afterwards.
Step 5: Now Wait, But in the Mean Time Heres an Optional Step
You now need to wait for your transfer medium to dry, I suggest waiting a nights sleep to fully insure it has dried. It is easiest to do it before going to sleep so that you don't have to think whether it is dry or not.
8 Hour wait suggested
After applying my image I choose to do some wood burning. It is not required. This step can be very difficult depending on what you choose to burn, I choose to just burn my hand writing of Seattle Seahawk. Nothing fancy you can use a stencil if you would like.
Step 6: Time to Remove the Layers of Paper
What you will need now is a wet rag and will need wet your image thoroughly. Be careful depending on getting your wood piece wet because It can cause cracks if it gets swollen and warped a little. This has no impact on to me and adds some character so I like it. You do not need to use a rag, I have used a wet paper towel, you just want to apply water indirectly and not just pour water on it. I drain excess water off my rag before using it. I like to lay my wet rag over the image and press down letting little bits of water soak the image.
Step 7: Rub Off the Paper Layers
Now use your finger and rub the paper and it will start to make the image clearer, and make tiny rolls of wet paper. continue doing this until it get clear as if it was just printed. You may need to get your image wet more than once I did it about three times. You can look at the images and see the fibers. If you still see fibers rub the them off. You can see above the eye how its clear. This is what you want your entire image to look like. You want to rub outward to prevent fraying like in the last image. Which is why I like to give a little extra space encase it does happen it won't have an impact on the final results.
Step 8: Remove Excess Paper
If you left extra paper and do not wish to keep it I suggest removing it with a knife, now this step can be difficult if you lack skills with a knife. Be sure to always stay safe. What I do is run my sharp blade around the image I want to keep. Making an outline. And once I have my outline I brush my knife outward away from the image making the paper fray a little and then peeling the excess when possible. You want to keep a light touch and or else you will damage your wood. You can do the same thing to remove excess transfer medium. I suggest wetting the surface before trying to remove the excess paper with the knife.
Step 9: Ready to Apply Your Sealer
Once you are ready to seal your image. You will need to get your sealer of choice and another foam brush. When applying the sealer you will apply a thin layer unlike the transfer medium. I apply a couple of coats though as many as like will suffice. I did two. You only need to wait about 20 minutes and your sealer will dry and be ready for another coat. After applying your sealer you are all finished and ready to give it away or do what you like with the image.