Monthly Archives: September 2012



Because it’s allllmooost Friday (gotta get down on Friday), here is a Graham Crafter bonus! This is a project I made with the photo transfer technique explained earlier this week in Project #12. This is a music box I made for my sister using one of her favorite wedding photos. I bought a plain box from the craft store, painted, photo transferred, and then had my awesome bro-in-law help me drill a hole and attach the music implement.

You might notice that this photo is a little less “full” than the ones in the wall hanging. That’s because I used a thinner layer of the gel medium for a more rustic-ish look. Rustic is not usually my thing. At all. But I think it works really nicely on this.


Project #12: Wood Block Photo Transfer


If you check out the early days of Graham Crafter, you’ll see that some of the first projects were in preparation for my sister’s wedding.  Today’s project was post-wedding… once we had the photos.  All of the beautiful photos came from Timeless Elegance Photography.  I can’t say enough good things about them.

I was inspired to make this project after watching this succinct but adorable video on wood block photo transfers:

That video pretty much sums it up, but if I left it at that, this wouldn’t be much of a blog post.  So we’ll start with supplies.  Please note that not all the supplies are pictured.  I only photographed the ones I used to make the photo blocks.   The other stuff came about later as I worked to assemble one pretty, finished product.  You will need: photos printed on regular copy paper (printed in reverse – more on that later), acrylic gel medium (I used Liquitex), wood blocks (I used unfinished wood plaques I found at the Hobby Lobby), craft acrylic paint, the ever-useful cheapo foam brush, Modge Podge, ribbon, and scrapbook paper.  You may also want the little decorative touch – I chose a silk orchid because orchids were the main flower at the wedding.

First things first… I painted the edges of the wood plaque (the parts that won’t be the area for the photo transfer.)  If you’re using a more rustic piece of wood or going for an unfinished look, you may want to skip the paint.

Start by doing the photo transfer.  The very beginning is to print your photos.  They work best on a laser printer using regular copy paper.  You should have a setting on your printer to print the image in reverse.  Because we’ll be laying the photo face down, NOT printing it in reverse will make your people look backwards.  Trim away the edges of the photo to make it fit your space.  Then cover the space for the photo in gel medium.  Gel medium is pretty thick and looks like really heavy glue when you first apply it.  The thicker the coverage, the fuller your image transfer will be.  So if you want a more rustic look, use a bit thinner coat.  But let’s be real – this bride and these bridesmaids will look good no matter what.


Once the gel medium is on, lay the photo face down.  Smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles.  The photos don’t maybe show this step real well.  Check out the video above.  After this dried a bit, I touched up the painted edges.  Let the entire thing dry overnight.


The next day, your block will look exactly the same, but dry.  You now need a bowl of water and a sponge.  Using the sponge, get the paper wet and start removing the paper.  Once it’s good and soaked, use your fingers to start peeling away the paper.  The image will have transferred to the gel medium.  It’s MAGIC! If only they made gel medium with glitter.  You know what else is magic? That between trimming and peeling away the paper, a photo of bridesmaids turned into a photo of the happy couple.


Scraping away the paper might take a while.  You might have to go back and get little bits that stuck around the first time.  But once you’re done, let everything dry and brush on some Modge Podge to seal the deal.  This is magical Modge Podge – it turned the photo BACK into the bridesmaids!

From here on out, assembling this project looks a lot like Project #10: Halloween Sign.  Use a staple gun to attach the ribbon that connects the blocks to each other.  I used two strands of thinner ribbon and tied them into a bow at the top.  For a bit of added fancy, I used Modge Podge to add scrapbook paper to the back of the photo blocks.  This covers up the ribbon and staples, and generally classes up the joint a bit.


At the very end, I used my trusty glue gun to attach the orchid.

When you’re done, give the awesome finished project to your sister and favorite brother-in-law.  Then watch your sister try to decide where to hang it.  Happy Crafting!

Project #11: Glitter Pumpkins


I’m back from Buffalo and to make up for last week, you get a bonus this week… TWO projects! An easy one today, and a lovely-but-more-complicated one tomorrow.  So today’s lunchtime blog is to give you a quick tutorial on how to make cute glitter pumpkins without the mess.  A lot of the instructions I’ve seen call for glue and actual glitter… and while it’s a well-known fact here at Graham Crafter that I LOVE GLITTER, it’s a freaking mess when you’re working with 3D objects.  Instead, I use glitter paint and you get all the sparkle/shine with a fraction of the mess.  I tried to go for a nice Halloween-ish look for the photo.  Eh, they can’t all be winners.

Let’s start at the beginning with supplies.  You’ll need a craft foam pumpkin (often on sale at Michaels, I also found some small ones at the Dollar Tree), craft acrylic paint, glitter acrylic paint, a cheapo foam brush, and – if you like – something small for decoration.  I used spider stickers from Jolee’s Botique (also on sale at Michaels.)

From here on out, you’re basically just painting the pumpkin.  By the way, the lady who cut my hair when I was little was named Pumpkin.  Well, that wasn’t her actual name, but the ladies at Fantastic Sam’s used to get nicknames, and hers was Pumpkin.  25 years later, and I still refer to her as Pumpkin.  What a nickname.  Anyway, start with your solid color of craft acrylic.  You may want to go with a metallic or pearl finish paint… whatever you’d like is fine.  Depending on the thickness of your paint, you may have to do a “sponge dab” technique instead of brush strokes.  I tried to give you photos that demonstrate what can happen with brush strokes… it works, but you’ll need lots of coats.  The dabbing technique will cut down on the number of coats necessary for good color coverage.


Once the solid color is dry, add your glitter paint.  This will require several coats, depending on your sparkle preference.  I love me some glitter, so I used a LOT of coats in a couple different colors of glitter (a yellowy-green and a kelly-ish green.)  Let the coats of glitter dry somewhat in between… as long as it’s not sticky to the touch, you can keep adding.

When you’re done glittering… but who are we kidding? I’ll never REALLY be done glittering… you can add a little decoration if you want.  I liked these 3D spiders.

For fun, I attempted a “creepy” photo with my app.  Again, they can’t all be winners.  But this project is easy and cheap and very non-messy.  Probably kid-friendly, too, so long as they don’t paint your walls with purple glitter or something.  Unless you live in Studio 54 – then maybe that would be welcomed.

Happy Crafting!

Buffalo is for Lovers


Hey there, craft fans! I am in Buffalo, NY, for work right now, so no new crafts tonight.  I will post a new project when I get home. AND I have a couple more great projects to share next week, but they are gifts and I need to give them to the recipient before I share them here. But they’re worth the wait!

Happy Crafting!

Project #10: Wood Block Halloween Sign


So, it may feel early for Halloween… but as far as I’m concerned, after Labor Day = Fall.  And Fall = Halloween.  At this moment, fall also = that season when the Tigers can’t score a damn run.  So there’s that.  Also, this idea can be used for a million different projects, so don’t feel like you need to start an exclusive relationship with Halloween.  Originally, I got this project from one of those free sheets at Michaels.  But, I made a few tweaks to wind up with my finished product.

As always, we’ll start with supplies.  Here’s whatcha need: Small wood blocks (sold in the wood section of any craft store;  the 4-inch size are less than a dollar each), scrapbook paper, wide ribbon, craft acrylic paint, a cheapo foam brush, and something called a D-ring (usually they’re in the jewelry-making section or the make-your-own purse section.  I’ve never made my own purse.  I leave that to the pros at Nine West.)  You also need a staple gun.

This one starts easily enough.  Paint your blocks.  Here’s the part where I tell you that the step-by-step photos depict one sign and the “finished product” photos depict another.  I made several of these and took the photos a few days apart.  But you get the idea.  I did a couple coats of orange and then a couple coats of orange glitter.  I LOVE GLITTER.  Let the paint dry completely before moving on.


Next comes the scrapbook paper.  Cut squares to fit onto the top of your wood plaque.  For the 4″ wood squares, I cut 3″ paper squares.  No need to measure super carefully, just hold the paper up OH MY GOD THE TIGERS SCORED 2 RUNS! to the plaque and eyeball it.  You’ll also need to cut out the letters in contrasting colors.  I used my Cricut (thanks, Erin!), but if you don’t have one, cut letters with an exacto knife or use stickers.

Using the Modge Podge, glue the paper square to the top of the plaque.  Be sure to press out any wrinkles and let it dry a bit.  Then glue a letter to each square.  Let everything dry before you slop on the Modge Podge as shellac.  Then, slop on the Modge Podge as shellac.


All the messy stuff is done.  Let the blocks dry and cut your ribbon long enough to hold the blocks, leaving some space at the ends.  Then, using the staple gun, attach the ribbon the the back of the blocks.  Staple guns are so handy.  I keep mine in the toolbox my Dad got me for Christmas.  Yep, you read that right.  My Dad got me a toolbox for Christmas.  He worked at the Home Depot after retiring.  He astutely pointed out that perhaps I’d have preferred he got a job at the Gap.

All that’s left is the D-Ring.  Just fold a bit of the ribbon over it and glue. I used a bit of super glue and then Modge Podge to prevent frayed edges.

Here is a fancy photo of the finished sign hanging on  my wall.  Happy Crafting and Happy Halloween!

Project #9: Painted Tray


So, I like to think this is the perfect tray for breakfast in bed after a Spartan victory.  Not that I ever make breakfast in bed… in fact, the Sunday after a college football game, it is unlikely I’m awake before lunch time.  Anyway, this is a super cheap project.  If you already have craft paint, the whole thing is less than $5.  If you have to buy the paint, it’ll be more like $8.

Supplies: This is pretty basic stuff… you need a wooden tray (available at pretty much any craft store – take your pick.  I got this one at Hobby Lobby for like 3 bucks), paint, the crackle medium (see photo below), and varnish.  You’ll also want a couple of cheapo foam paint brushes.  I used a nicer brush to freehand the Spartan head… but if you’re more of a stencil person, the cheapo foam brushes will be good.

Start by painting the the entire tray in the color you want to show through the cracks in the paint.  I chose white.  This needs a heavy coat, possibly two coats.  Let it dry completely (as you can see – it’s still wet in the photo.  I took the photo as I was painting, but let it dry overnight.)

Next, apply the crackle medium.  Here’s a photo of it and one of how it goes on clear:

It is important that you do not let the crackle medium dry completely.  You need to move to the next step when the crackle medium is still tacky – the bottle this says should be about 15-40 minutes.  Then, you paint your contrast color on (here, green.)  The crackles will start to appear in just a few minutes, and will follow the direction of your brush strokes.  The “painting green” photo on the left below is a bit blurry – I had to try and take it with my left hand while painting with my right – it didn’t go well.  As you can see in the photo on the right, the cracks start to appear pretty much right away (the paint is still wet.)

Now, it’s time for the extra special decor! Wait until the green coat dries and add a little flair.  I did the Spartan head freehand.  If you are not artsy, or not feeling brave, you can make yourself a stencil with your printer, cardstock, and an exacto knife.  I won’t say this Spartan head is the greatest work of art ever, but I’m generally happy with how it turned out.

Finally, slap a little varnish on it to seal in all the paint.  I used inexpensive satin varnish that is the same brand as the craft acrylic paint.  Follow the instructions on the bottle to apply.  The varnish might look a little cloudy when you apply it (notice the grayish look on the foam brush.)  I did two coats.  Be sure to allow the varnish to dry completely before using your tray (duh.)

Last but not least, GO GREEN!