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!


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