Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Picture Perfect Gift Ideas

This past holiday season hubby and I decided to make most of our gifts to the family.  Yes, we were trying to be frugal but also we wanted to give family something more of a keepsake that was handmade with love. (insert: awwww)

We made several gifts and even got our daughter involved.  We printed out 8.5x11 calendars that I plopped photos in a ready made template (purchased at a digistore online) and then laminated it.  We took it to our nearest home office store and they bound it for a grand total of 4 buckeroos!  It was an absolute hit!!  In fact, the guys in the family requested an extra one for their office at work.

My daughter and I worked on magnets.  We used bottle caps, a hole punch, E6000, some crystal lacquer and neodymium rare earth magnets (got tons of these for uber cheap at Etsy).  We printed several resized photos on a single 4x6 photo paper and managed to make tons of magnets for family!  A hit!

Oh!  And we made some candles.  Yep, used the empty (and cleaned) baby jars of food to pour in the scented wax.  Most of our family uses a warmer doodat so we didn't need to add a wick.  It was a GREAT hit, too!

But the biggest hit of all was our family photo collage of the girls on an 8x8 piece of wood.

This was fun to make but I do not recommend doing this in the winter time if you do not have a heated garage!  The poly stuff stinks and due to being cold out, it took forever and a year to dry.  We ended up enclosing it inside a cabinet, draped a sheet over it and placed a space heater under the sheet to keep it warm enough to dry.  No worries!  Hubby set up his web cam in the garage so we could keep an eye on it!  No fires, promise!

What I love most (and what family loved most) was A -the fact that it was homemade and B -that you could see the wood grains so it almost looked like the photo was actually painted on. 

It really is pretty simple to make this.  And very forgiving!!  All the imperfections look like they were placed there on purpose.  I loved that about this project!

And you can get real creative with this!  We turned one of these into a clock!  We just bought the clock pieces at WalMart.  They can be found at any hobby store, though.


Wood -had hubby cut mine into 8x8's.  Tip:  use LIGHT colored wood.  The darker the wood, the harder it will be to see some parts of your photo.  It will get lost...  I ended up with darker colored wood and hubby ended up bleaching it for me to lighten it because my girls faces were not very clear. If you want to know the process hubby used to bleach my wood, lemme know.  That'd be a whole other blog post!

Sandpaper -300 grit and 150 grit

Paint -I used acrylic paints

Your photo of choice resized to fit your wood piece.  You can digiscrap a neat layout and use it, too!  Totally go crazy!  I used PhotoShop to design my prints.

Wipe-on Poly

T-Shirt transfer paper


Wax paper

Mod Podge (I used gloss)

Well ventilated room

Saw-tooth Hangers (for the back)

  • Cut your wood to size you want, sand it with the 150 grit sandpaper.  Make sure to sand the side you want to place your photo on nice and smooth.  Make sure to also sand the edges nice and smooth!  I didn't sand the back.  I don't think it's absolutely necessary.
  • VERY important:  Mirror the photo you want to print.  If you don't, any words you have on your photo, collage, etc. will not be legible! 
  • Print your photo onto the T-shirt transfer paper. 
  • Heat your iron to high.  No water in the iron!!
  • Set the transfer paper down on the piece of wood the way you'd like it to appear.  You can trim the paper if it's too big, but if you can, leave a little bit of the paper hanging over the edge of the piece of wood so you have somewhere to lift it off when it comes time to peel.
  • Take your wax paper and set it on top of the T-shirt transfer paper.  If your iron gets as hot as mine, this will protect it from burning right through!
  • Place your iron on the center of the paper and work your way out towards the corners.  Make sure to press down on the iron real hard.  Go in a circular motion.  Be sure to get the edges real well.  Hubby helped with this.  He's strong   =D
  • Once this is done, start peeling it away SLOWLY.  Start at a corner.  Now, I have tried this both while the transfer paper was hot and once it has cooled.  I have noticed that if you start peeling it off slowly while it is hot, you still have a chance to correct it if a part of the image did not transfer properly.  And I have noticed that you get a lot less sticky glue-y stuff on your photo if you peel it while it's still hot.  When we worked with it when it had cooled, it seemed a bit trickier to peel and a lot more of the glue-y part of the transfer paper remained on the photo.  If this does happen, though, you can wait till it's completely cooled off and then sand it with the 300 grit sand paper.
  • Once you have successfully removed the transfer paper, let it cool completely.
  • Grab your paints and paint the edges and sides if you wish.
  • Grab your mod podge and put a thin coat of it over the whole thing.  This will ensure that your transfer stays and doesn't peel off. 
  • Let it dry completely.
  • Gently sand it with the 300 grit sandpaper, so it is nice and smooth.
  • Clean off any dust particles.
  • In a well ventilated room, apply a layer of wipe-on poly with a foam brush.  Tip:  Set your wood-art on top of a wax sheet of paper.  It will be easy to lift off of and won't stick as it did to my table -oops!  The things you learn the hard way lol   (ALTERNATIVE IDEA:  instead of using poly, you can also just mod podge it in Matte or Gloss and be done!)
  • When it is completely dry, sand it lightly with the 300 grit sandpaper.
  • Apply another layer of wipe-on poly, sand, repeat at least 3 times.  You can repeat this process as many times as you'd like, though.  Until you are happy with the result!
  • Adhere to the back a a saw-tooth hanger and voila!  You are done!
Good luck and have fun trying this!  We messed up many in the process of trying to get it figured out and looking the way we wanted it too.  I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do this.  This is just how we ended up doing it and were very pleased with the end result!  If you have tried this and have an awesome tip, please share!!

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