Wood Plaque Photo Transfer


This is a gift that is sure to be appreciated by the recipient. I recently made this plaque for my Mom’s birthday. My Mom knows that she is probably going to get some kind of handmade gift from her starving artist daughter for just about every occasion and she is fine with it. I try to make the gifts useful and/or memorable. Believe me, there are a lot of weird and random craft ideas out there that I would never give as a gift. If it doesn’t pass the “Would I Like To Receive This?” test, it doesn’t make the cut. This project passes with flying colors.

It’s a very easy project, unfortunately you will most likely have to make a trip to the craft store before you start. Unless you are an artist, it is doubtful you have gel medium on hand, and nobody I’ve ever met keeps a supply of blank wooden plaques hanging around. But if you are anything like me, you are at the craft store at least once a week (who am I kidding, I am there almost daily). Also you will need a laser print or photo copy of the photo you are transferring. Ink jet prints will not work. When you print your image, do not forget to reverse it so that when it’s transferred onto the plaque it’s the right way. This is especially important if your image includes lettering, or is a photo of your family home which you are giving to your mother as a gift.


Paint the printed image and the plaque with a nice, even coating of gel medium. Carefully lay the image face down on the plaque, making sure there are no bubbles, and smooth it down. Try not to press the paper over the edge of the plaque, and wipe up any gel medium that oozes over the edge. That stuff dries as hard as plastic and is a real pain to get off without marring the edges of your image. Let it completely.

Once it’s dry, soak the paper well with water and let it set for a minute, then rub the paper off with your fingers, rinsing occasionally. It is so awesome, just like magic the image will be transferred onto the wood. After it dries, you will notice that there is still some paper left and you’ll have to wet it and rub it some more. This will happen a few times before all of the paper is gone. Tiny bits of the image will get rubbed off too, but it just adds to the home made coolness of the plaque.

Ta-da! Another fabulous handmade gift that will be sure to warm the heart of the lucky receiver.




My Favorite Handmade Gifts – Shrink Plastic Pendant

34 days until Christmas and I still have so many things to do. Pretty much everything. I should take my own advice and start busting out some cool handmade stuff to give to all of the people on my list. Maybe I will make a few of these shrink plastic pendants. They are super easy and look really awesome. Best of all, if you have any #6 plastic take out containers, they are just about free.

More & more restaurants are switching to #1 and #2 plastic for take out boxes, and that is wonderful because #1 & #2 can be easily recycled, in fact those are the only 2 kinds my recycle bin accepts. If you do happen upon some #6, save it to make shrinkies. You will be helping the planet by not tossing more plastic into the trash and you get to enjoy a super fun and easy craft. Win-win. If you can’t get your hands on #6 plastic, shrink plastic is readily available at craft stores and in the craft department of Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

awesome necklace

You will need:
#6 take out container or store-bought shrink plastic
Colored Pencils
Hole punch
Craft heat gun
Jump rings, wire, cording, or something of your choosing from which to hang your pendant.

Make sure to do this craft in a well ventilated area!!

Let’s start with the design. I wanted to make a cool pendant for my Mom’s birthday gift, and I happened to have a fierce pic of my Mom and my dad Bob. First, I had to tweak it a little by making it black & white and adjusting the contrast. You can find out how to do this by Googling “picture to stencil”. Here is a great Instructable on the subject. Don’t get hung up on trying to get a super smooth edge. You will be tracing the pic and therefore can take a whole lot of liberties. Alternately you could find some cool clip art. Your original image should be no bigger than 5″x5″and probably no smaller than 3″x3″.

Make sure your container is very clean. Cut out an appropriately sized piece, making sure there is nothing stamped on it (like a big ol’ #6). You should lightly sand it with fine grit sandpaper if you are using colored pencils or if you want a more opaque look but if you use Sharpies sanding is not necessary. Tape the plastic to the image you’re tracing. This is a very important step, trust me. Start with the outline and the big obvious shapes, then add in the details. For a monochromatic piece like this one, make sure you leave blank spaces, in the hair for example, to give it texture. If you are using a Sharpie you will notice that it “marks” areas that you have already colored. Don’t worry about that, you will not be able to tell once you’ve shrunk it down.

these sunglasses look all googly now, but they won’t in a minute

If you make a mistake you can erase it with a Q-tip barely moistened with rubbing alcohol. Once you are satisfied with your design, trim the plastic down to a neat shape and punch your hole. Or holes, depending on how you want your pendant to hang. I made mine into a beaded necklace, so I punched a hole in each top corner. A regular office-type hole punch is perfect. The holes will seem huge but shrink down to just the right size. Place your plastic on a heat proof surface and shrink it with your crafty heat gun. You could use a toaster oven, if you have a spare, but I wouldn’t shrink plastic in something I cook food in, and the heat gun works great.   ***Before you shrink have a flat-bottomed glass handy (with no lettering on the bottom!)  so you can press your piece flat if you need to, and try not to blast the plastic off the table with the forced air of the heat gun. It is going to curl up so don’t freak out. It should straighten itself out, but if not, you can tweak it into submission while it’s still hot. And it will be very hot, so be careful.

Here is the result! Store bought shrink plastic may give a soother finish (although I wouldn’t know, I’ve never bought the stuff) but I like this imperfect “wabi-sabi” finish. If you’re feeling extra creative, colored pencils work great as well and are permanent once you shrink them. My Mom loved her necklace and I bet your Mom would too. I think I will now go make some shrink plastic ornaments for my tree.