Our goal is to keep our site a useful and valuable resource to all you fellow crafters out there—I see you, friends! With that in mind, this post was originally written back in 2013, and we have updated it with TWO new methods for creating a wood transfer. We have also left the original content here as well, so don’t worry because we haven’t changed that at all. We just want to provide you with more options and methods for transferring a photo to wood. And, good news, these two new methods are even EASIER than the original. (!!!!!!!)
We originally created this post AND have updated it while working with our friends at Canon USA. We love their inkjet printers for both craft projects AND home office/small business needs. We have both. We need both. And our Canon printers fit the bill and then some. If you’re looking for a great craft, photo, and all around awesome printer, then might I recommend the PIXMA TS9020 (which you can see below and was used for this project). 🙂
The wood transfer I created back in 2013 is still alive and well… you can see him in the photo above (the large one, labeled from 2013). I’ve mostly kept this transfer displayed in my bedroom for the past four years, and it’s even moved houses with me once during that time. So, if the old method works, why bother updating? Good question. So, the original method we shared I would say is somewhat advanced in that it involves a number of steps that if you mess up, can affect your final project. I was hoping to offer another method that could suit a beginner crafter level, or a more “foolproof” method. I like anything with that term in it. 🙂
I tried a few things and the two that worked the best I am sharing with you in the video below. You can see all the supplies and steps for creating your own wood transfer:
In addition to the steps you can see in the video, I’d thought I’d share a few more tips I learned from these two methods below.
For the water decal method, method 1, there are a number of water decal inkjet printer papers on the market that can work well for this. The one I used is here. Once you slip the image decal off the paper (after soaking), it’s very thin, like tissue paper, so it’s good to practice a bit so you get the hang of working with it. Also, keep in mind that turpentine has a fairly strong odor. So be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
For method 2, using temporary tattoo paper, I used this brand. Here’s a few tips for this one. First, keep in mind that your final “tattoo” will be the mirror image of your photo. So if there is text in your image, you’ll want to flip before printing. After printing you will have to add a sticky, clear sheet to the design. This contains adhesive that will help your design stick to the wood. As you can see in the video, it’s OK if you don’t get this stuck on perfectly. But you do want to distribute the adhesive across your image as much as possible.
You can leave the transfers as they are or seal with a thin coat of Mod Podge or water-based polyurethane. I left mine unsealed and so far, so good. 🙂
And below is the original post that we created for how to make a wood transfer:
In anticipation of getting my wedding photos back from our photographer, I’ve been dreaming up creative ways to display some of our photos around the house. I’ve always wanted to try transferring a photo to wood. So I looked up a few tutorials online to see how it’s done. I learned pretty quickly that not every tutorial out there will result in a beautiful transfer. But what I learned I’m happy to share with you!
-ink jet printer
-paint roller (or rolling pin)
-8×10 inch untreated wood (lighter colored wood is preferred)
Note: If you plan to use a photo you didn’t take yourself (like a wedding photo), be sure you have the photographer’s permission.
Step Two: Spray on a thin coat of the Krylon clear sealer and allow to dry.
Step Three: Use a small sponge to apply a thin layer of Elmer’s glue to the paper. Allow this to fully dry.
Step Five: Use a small sponge to apply a thin coat of Liquitex to the wood. While it is still wet, apply your photo image-side down to the wood. Use a roller to flatten the paper onto the wood. Allow this to dry for 1 hour.
Step Six: Carefully peel back the paper from the transfer and seal with another thin coat of Krylon clear sealer. Once that dries, you can add another coat of sealer, like Mod Podge.
Now you are ready to display your transfer in your home. I just love the rustic look of wood. 🙂 I bet you want to see the failed attempts, huh? Yeah, I would too. Here they are along with what I learned and additional tips that might help you if you are planning to make your own wood transfer.
This one… kind of transferred. Sort of. It’s very faint as you can see and also was quite a mess to work with as I tried to remove the paper. The tutorial I followed for this attempt was very similar to the one above except that it didn’t use clear sealer and it suggested using Mod Podge instead of Liquitex. In my opinion the Liquitex, although a little more expensive than Mod Podge, was well worth the investment.
Oh dear. This attempt was done doing the exact technique taught above, except that instead of using a sponge to apply the Elmer’s glue, I used a paint brush. For me, the paint brush left a lot of streaks and uneven coverage. I recommend using a sponge. Sponge for the win!
This one is pretty good, huh? Not too bad. The main issue here was that there was some bubbling in the paper and it showed in the transferred image (in the area below our hands). This is why it’s important to use a mini paint roller or rolling pin to help flatten down the paper onto the wood as the image transfers over. Say no to bubbles. If you have any additional questions, let us know. Or if you have also completed a wood transfer project before and have any tips you’d like to share, feel free. 🙂 Thanks! xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Tutorial Photography: Emma Chapman. New (2017) video from Harp Creative. Past (2013 video) from Doren Chapman. Wedding photos by: Arrow & Apple. New (2017) photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.