An acquaintance of mine sent me a link to a super cool tutorial on the web. It described how to transfer an image printed using a laser jet printer, onto a piece of wood. Awesome! The secret ingredient was to use gel medium. Naturally, I started rummaging through my paint supplies.
I had some Liquitex gloss medium and varnish in my stash. Perfect. It's acrylic and it dries transparent.
I found a little scrap of 6x9 wood to use. It had a varnish finish which I sanded off. It also had a big patch mark in it... but again, this was a trial run to see what works and what doesn't, so I wasn't really concerned.
I chose an image from all the Foster's Adventures photos taken last year. In Photoshop, I bumped the contrast, added some noise and made it a mirror image. I sent it to Staples to get it printed using a laser jet printer (25 cents) and was ready to roll. The original tutorial I was using said ink jet will NOT work at all.... so don't even try.
Using a foam brush, I applied a nice even coat to the wood. At first the wood just seemed to suck up the medium... so be a little generous, but don't goop it on.
I laid the wood down onto the image. I found this easiest to get it centred.
Then I flipped it over and using a plastic card, smoothed out all the air bubbles to ensured the entire paper was getting good contact to the wood. As per the instructions, I left it overnight to completely dry.
The next morning I was super eager to peel off the paper! It was like opening a present! I pulled off most while it was dry, then using a wet cloth, I dampened the stuck on paper and started rubbing off the remaining paper layer with my fingers. It didn't take more then a couple minutes to get it all off. And if you are curious like me, the image does not wipe off if you wipe it with the damp cloth.
I took this image before I complelety got all the paper off, but you get the idea. See the lines where the image didn't transfer? Remember how I said the piece of wood I used was a scrap that had a varnish finish on it? I sanded it down, but obviously didn't get ALL of the finish off. If I hold it up in the light, I can see all those blank sections are where there is still trace bits of varnish. Doh! Lesson learned.
Here it is so you can see it better. It absolutely works! I learned many things from this test. Here are my suggestions and recommendations;
- Fine sections where the image doesn't adhere would be less noticeable on a larger scale piece.
- Use wood with a smoother, unfinished surface. If you are sanding a finished piece of wood (recycling), it is essential you get all of the varnish or stain off. The image will not transfer to those spots that still have residual bits, as you can see in my test.
- Enhance the contrast on your image, but don't blast out the highlights too much.
- Print it with a MATTE flat finish paper. Glossy will not work.
- If you wish to distress or age the wood with stains or pigments, do it after the image has been transferred.
- Do NOT sand the image once it has transferred. It will take off the image.
- Seal the image with a furniture wax. I used MinWax 'Natural' paste, then buffed it.
I am really glad I did a test run first with this project. Even though it didn't turn out exactly how I'd hoped, I am still planning to do a larger scale one. Now that I've got some practice, I am confident it will turn out just right! I hope this trial run helps you if you decide to give it a go!
The image I'm using next will be the airplane adventure.... wish me luck!