Adventures with Photo Transfers

Canvas - Photo Transfers in a Collage Wall

Remember those plain white canvasses I had on the wall in the bedroom?  Yup, the ones I got for Christmas?  Well I finally got around to my transfer-photos-onto-the-canvasses project!  I wish I could say that everything went according to plan…  What I CAN say is, “well I’m pretty happy with how attempts #3 and #4 turned out!”

Let me start at the beginning.  I found these two pins about transferring photos to canvas a while ago.  {Click on each photo to go to the pin}  So on Saturday I picked up some Liquitex Matte Gel Medium at Michaels with  my 40% off coupon (which will run you around $8 after the coupon).  I printed out a photo on my black and white laser printer, painted a thick layer of the matte medium on the canvas, and stuck the photo down face-down.  On Sunday morning, following the directions from the pins, I sprayed the back of the paper with water and started to gently rub the back of the paper off.  Everything went well… until the paper started bubbling in a weird way & everything started peeling off the canvas.  Project FAIL.

I cleaned off the canvas & set it down to try.  I wasn’t about to give up, so I grabbed the other canvas and tried again.  By Sunday night the canvas was dry and I tried again.  With the same awful results.  During the second attempt I decided that my canvas was getting too wet, which was causing the bubbling, so I decided on a 3rd attempt.

I slathered an extra thick layer of gel medium on the canvas & stuck down another photo.  This time, instead of using a spray bottle to wet the back of the paper, I used a wet paper towel and just squeezed out a bit of water on the section I wanted to work on.  I made sure to dab off any extra water on the paper, so there was no water pooling on the canvas.  I also decided to do one layer, let it dry, and then repeat the processes as many times as I needed.  Finally, SUCCESS!  Well more like, eventually, success.

This is what the transfer looked like after 4 or 5 rounds of VERY GENTLE scrubbing!  After the first round, when the canvas dried, the picture was entirely obscured again.  You can see in the top right corner I managed to get the white layer off.  I also focused on the elephant itself and really worked to get the final white layer off.  I think this canvas could use a few more exfoliation attempts to get the picture as clear as possible.

Canvas - Photo Transfer - Elephant Close-up

Since I had such a hard time getting to this point, I decided to go rogue on finishing up the second canvas.  Instead of doing a transfer, I used the gel medium like mod podge.  I painted a layer of the gel medium on the canvas & stuck the photo down, face-up this time.  Next I covered the  top of the photo with another layer of gel medium, trying to minimize any bubbles.  It’s not as smooth as the elephant photo above, but it only took 5 minutes!

Canvas - Photo Transfer - Crowd on a Hill Close-up

I like both version of the photo-onto-canvas project, but there’s something to be said for the 5 minute version!  I’ve hung them back on the wall in the bedroom for now, although they’re not quite done.  I want to tie them in with the West Elm piece on the far left, by painting a colorful stripe below the photo.  (I’m thinking one blue and one green, to tie in with the curtains.)  I also plan on switching out the Mr Mustard prints on the far right for the two pieces of art wedged into the frame corners.  I think minimizing the orange and red on this wall will help it field more tied to the rest of the room.

Canvas - Photo Transfers in a Collage Wall To Do List

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