DIY Image Transfer Projects


I have been busy with all kinds of DIY projects lately, and today I'm going to share a technique that is pretty easy, and applicable for all kinds of projects, not just the particular ones I used it for: image transfer!

There are lots of ways to transfer images to your projects (wood, fabric, furniture, whatevs), and a nice link round-up can be found at The Graphics Fairy

For my projects, I used a simple wax paper transfer method. My first project was turning a new wood crate from the craft store in a shabby, vintage style crate for holding shoes at our front door. The small, flimsy basket we had was overflowing, and G forgot more times than not to put his shoes in there. I won't say he's gotten much better at remembering, but the crate sure looks a lot nicer!

First things first: the new, raw wood crate!

And because raw wood is not the look I was going for, I painted it with a "stain" of brown acrylic paint heavily diluted with water. I also sanded the crate a little to get off any sharp splinters. I didn't worry about that initial stain being neat or perfect, as I was painting it over anyway, and only wanted the stain to show through a little after I distressed the finished piece.

For my crate, I went with a matte, chalky finish paint. It's got a rustic, shabby-chic vibe and is super easy to use. I used Enchanted from the Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint collection.

Now, the image I wanted to use on the front of my crate is also from The Graphics Fairy, a beautiful old French shoe factory advertisement (which I thought was apt, since this is a shoe box, after all).

Wax paper is too fragile to try feeding it through your inkjet printer by itself-well, I'm sure some people have been able to do it, but I didn't want to risk a nasty paper jam. So my trick it to cut the wax paper to fit a plain piece of 8.5 x 11 paper, and I used a little bit of spray adhesive to attach them together evenly, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles. 

Depending on what your image is, be sure to reverse it before printing so text doesn't look backwards after transferring. The Graphics Fairy already has a reversed version of this image, so it was easy peasy! 

Then I printed out my image (this is a project just for inkjets, I'm not sure if it will work with laser jets printers). Then, while the ink was still quite wet, I carefully placed the paper on the crate and began smoothing over the paper with a sturdy card. Press firmly over all portions of the image to really let the ink soak in, but don't use so much force that you disrupt the paper's position or tear the wax paper. If the paper shifts too much, you could smear the image. 

Once you are sure the image has transferred to your liking, gently pull it up and behold your masterpiece!

This definitely has the vintage vibe I was hoping for! However, it would ideally be a little bit darker for my tastes. I've read that some people get the wood lightly damp before transferring and that intensifies the amount ink that soaks in. I may try that in the future, but it still turned out great! I used sandpaper to wear down the paint on the edges of the crate and where natural weathering might occur, and then I sealed the whole crate with a few coats of Krylon Crystal Clear spray.

For my second project, I used THIS lovely autumn themed pumpkin label for a hanging wood pallet sign. This was a new, dark wood sign from Michaels. 

I wanted the wood to look lighter, more weather-worn, so the image would show up more clearly. So I painted the sign with a diluted mix of cream and light brown acrylic paints.

Here you can see the image (a black and white test version) that I reversed and used adhesive spray to attach the wax paper to plain printer paper. I  actually wanted the image to print out a little larger than 8.5 x 11 inches, so I spliced a little extra paper to a regular sheet to make it approximately legal size.

I think next time I will definitely try making the wood a little damp (but not too damp as that can make the ink run and smudge)- because my final result was lighter than I'd hoped and I didn't get all the details and vibrant colors from the label. To me it looks pretty authentic and worn out-but I wish the image stood out just a little more. I sealed this with Krylon Crystal Clear as well. This is currently hanging in my kitchen for the fall/ Halloween/Thanksgiving and I think for Christmas I may do another one.

That's all for today, hope you all have a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate that sort of thing!

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Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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