Thursday, December 29, 2011

Transfer Pictures to Wood!

My 12-week-old is my parents' first grandchild. They are nuts over him. Especially my mom. She is just the nuttiest grandma you can imagine-- all goo goo and gah gah, if you know what I mean. It's cute.. I love watching her with my Little Bear :)

So, for Christmas, I knew I had to give her a large picture of the little guy. Getting photos printed on canvas isn't expensive these days, but when I saw this tutorial for transferring pictures to a wood block on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out-- but I can't resist a cheap DIY project!

The tutorial is great, but for whatever reason, I just prefer written instructions rather than videos. Plus, I thought I'd share my experience and write this up in detail.

First, here's what you need:

A block of wood. I used a few pieces of pine wood I had left over from when we were building our house. My dad laughed at me for being a hoarder.. but he ain't laughing now! I found great use for my wood pieces! ;-)

A picture printed with a laser printer. Mirrored, if you want it to look like the original when you're done. Ditzy me forgot about this when I first got these printed.. and it was a bit of a long hassle after that to get it right. Long story short-- I ended up going to the print shop 3 times in one day.

Gel medium. I had no idea what this was, and went to the craft store rather hesitantly, unsure where to look for this. I found it in the oil and acrylic paint section. You know, for painting pictures, not walls. I had a 50% off coupon to Michael's, so I scored this for $7. Woot!

So take your wood block, and apply the gel medium with a paintbrush or something similar. The key here is to try applying it as evenly as possible... Not too much (makes for lots of obvious bubbles and folds) and not too little (keeps the picture from transferring completely). I didn't always do this, and here's the result:

This can make for a cool effect at the picture's edges-- but it wasn't exactly what I was going for on my baby's face.

When it's all fairly even, stick the picture, face down, onto the wood.

Here comes the crucial part. Even out the bubbles as best you can. The paper gets rather wet and starts to tear if you rub too hard, so this isn't exactly fool-proof.. But I most of mine turned out fine, so I'm sure y'all can do it too. ;-)

Now ya gotta be patient and let this dry overnight (or until it's completely dry.. took mine about 5-6 hours). It's a good thing I made these exactly 2 days before Christmas, and had plenty of other things to keep me busy. I'm not too good with the whole patience thing.

After all that waiting, here comes the reward: you get to see your artwork! Not before putting some elbow grease in there, though. Grab a wet sponge or rag, and soak your paper. You can probably hold it under running water. I did, but only for a couple of minutes, before I freaked out, and wondered if I was ruining the picture. It looked completely fine to me, But I did not have time on my side, so I couldn't risk ruining these.

Rub alllll the pretty paper off with your sponge. It'll take a while. Even when it looks like it's perfectly clean and glossy-- after it dries, you'll see lots of little white specks all over the picture. It took me several rounds of rubbing and cleaning to get it right.

Resist the urge to grab a scouring pad. It will scratch your picture. Not that I tried it or anything (who, me?!)

All that hard work pays off, though-- in the end, you get to admire your amazing creation. The best part about DIY, isn't it??

If you'd like, you can finish these off with Mod Podge or maybe a wood sealer. I wanted to-- but I was short on time, so I decided to leave them the way they were. I figured they'd be used for decoration, anyway. I don't normally spend much time touching the pictures on my wall. If you do, you should probably give these a durable finish ;-)

So here you are.. Simple, pretty, and cheap! My little can of gel medium was enough for about 8-10 8x10 pictures. The wood was free. That makes.. hmm... $0.70 per 8x10?? Hecks yeah! My kinda project! :-D

I'm linking this up to:

Rae Gun Ramblings
Today's Creative Blog
Robin's Creative Cottage
Home Stories A to Z
Tip Junkie
Southern Product Queen
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Blue Cricket Design

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheap, Easy, and Fast.. What's Not to Like?!

It's 1:17 AM, and the hubs and baby have been sweetly (or not so sweetly) sleeping for a while now, while I'm stuck in blog land. And to be honest, I'm too tired and lazy to get up off the couch, brush my teeth, wash my face, put some PJs on.. etc.. ever feel that way? Too tired to go to bed? Yeah.
I'll just quickly share a very easy, cheap, and fast little project I did a few days ago. If you need a Christmas present for your kids' grandparents still, you can make these in 20 minutes, I promise! (plus baking time)


I found inspiration for these hand print/foot print Christmas tree ornaments through Pinterest. Lesley at Homemade Grits did a version of these, and I decided to tweak them to fit my own style. They are soo simple. The hardest part is getting the print just right. Little Bear didn't want to cooperate right away.. but with a little patience, I got him to unclench his hands just long enough to get three separate prints. The feet are easy-peasy, for obvious reasons.

Let me add-- this works best with babies and toddlers. Unless you like your ornaments to be the size of a dinner plate. Ha.

I didn't take pictures of the process.. but I promise it isn't hard to figure out.

First, the recipe:

1 cup salt
4 cups flour

Just add half a cup of water at a time, being very careful not to make it too soggy. You want a very firm dough. This recipe yielded enough dough to make 3 hand prints and 3 foot prints for my 11-week-old.. and two large hand prints for my school-age sisters.. plus quite a bit left over. The point is, you could easily half this recipe and still have plenty.

I used the dough hook on my stand mixer to get this mixed real well.. but you could do it by hand if you have the patience. Which I don't.

Take a handful of dough, and roll it out, being careful not to get it too thin. You want it about half an inch thick, so you can get a nice print.

Here comes the hard part now-- getting those chubby little hands to unclench and making a print worthy of keeping on your tree for years to come. I suggest getting another person to help you with this, although I successfully managed to do two of these on my own.

Get a cup or bowl to cut the ornament out.. and remember to make a hole in the top for threading a ribbon through later! I used a straw for this.

You can now either let it dry for a couple of days.. or let it bake in the oven for several hours at 200 F. I did 1 hour at 170 F, and they were still pretty soft. I went ahead and painted them anyway. My impatience will probably cost me, though. Watch these mold before Easter.

I used a can of metallic gold 97-cent Walmart spray paint to paint several layers on these, and then looped glittery blue ribbon I got 50% off at Michael's through the top. All in all, I probably spent $3 tops on all six ornaments. Score!

I'm linking this up to:

The Shabby Creek Cottage
Alicia's Homemaking: Try New Adventures Thursday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Beginning

Hello world! My name is Rebecca, and I absolutely love decorating and prettifying (somehow my made-up word only looks like horrifying) things on the cheap. And yes, I do mean cheap. Doling those little dollars out for things which don’t seem absolutely necessary physically hurts me. It does. I remember how frustrated I used to be with my mom for being so freakin’ cheap. But you know what they say. Now my husband makes fun of me for not letting him spend money on anything.

I hope I never told anyone to slap me if I ever turn into my mom.

It’s been years since I’ve done any blogging, and I thought I would give it a try once again. Now that we have our own house, I have found myself trying so many different decorating ideas which I found in blog world in the past few months. I often tweak projects to suit my own needs.. and sometimes I even come up with my own things, which I would love to share with those of you who might find it useful!

Between my 11-week-old son, messy husband, and now also a cat to take care of, I don’t know how frequent my posts will be– but here’s hoping I will find the time!