Most people have family photos pushed away into drawers that rarely see the light of day; here’s a great tutorial that hopefully will brighten Christmas morning for one of your nearest and dearest. All you need to do is sneak a scanned copy of that photo ….
I really love the simplicity of these DIY canvasses, and over the last year or so I’ve followed many tutorials online that are all broadly similar but I always ended up with a little niggle every time. Maybe there was too much of the image rubbed away (i.e. it was “too” distressed!), it wasn’t vibrant enough, or I had annoying bubbles left on the canvas.
I hope this tutorial solves all those issues; for me it’s proven to be the best and most effective method I’ve used.
Please do have a go yourselves; it’s not as intimidating as it might sound, and I’d love to hear about your results!
Firstly, here’s what you’ll need:
- A laser jet printer for your image – very important – this won’t work on an inkjet copy
- A photo-editing tool that will allow you to boost levels and/or contrast, and also to flip the image horizontally (particularly important if your image contains text of any kind
- A blank canvas (I’ve used a 7 x 5 inch in this tutorial)
- A sponge brush
- Acrylic matt medium
- An old credit card
- A water spritzer
- Linseed oil
Scan and print out your image slightly larger than your canvas – before you do this you may want to boost the contrast, curves or levels if your photo editing software allows (most photos fade over time, and you need some definition for this to work well).
Also – remember to flip your image 180 degrees horizontally before printing – it needs to be a ‘mirror’ image.
Pour some of the matt medium onto your blank canvas and cover with your sponge brush.
Do the same on your image (not too much as some of the toner will start to come away)
Carefully place the image face down on your canvas. Match up the edges but allow a slight amount of ‘overhang’ (if the image is slightly larger, this shouldn’t be a problem)
This is important … You will get bubbles appearing (it’s a bit liking hanging wallpaper!). The best way I’ve found to deal with them is to use an old credit card and smooth them away. I’ve tried the back of a spoon too but that just seemed to stretch the canvas; an old credit card is perfect!
Wait at least 24 hours for it to dry. I always wait 48 hours, because if it’s even slightly damp when you move onto the next step you could run into problems
(Please forgive the reverse image on the shot above … you don’t need to do that, I just print a reverse copy so I can keep track of which canvas is which!)
Now, grab your water spritzer and dampen the dried image. The key here is to dampen it enough to rub the paper off (too dry and you’ll take the image off too, too wet and …. well, it’ll be a mess!)
Rub the paper with your fingertips. I tend to vary the direction, from “round and round” to “up and down”.
Be warned: this is the time-consuming bit, and it can make your fingertips quite sore!
When you’re happy most of the paper has been rubbed away, set it aside to dry for 24 hours. There will be some rubbing off around the edges, but I think this just adds to the charm!
When you go back to it you will notice that the drying process has revealed a lot of paper still present and it will look a quite ‘milky’, but this is where the fabulous linseed oil comes in!
Take a bit of the oil on your fingertip and gently rub it into the canvas. The wonderful thing about this step is that it brings a vividness to the image (no amount of rubbing at the wet stage will ever remove every trace of the paper …)
Et voilà … A lovely, personalised and unique Christmas gift!
I’m doing a few of these this year as I think they make perfect stocking fillers, and are just so cute!
If however, you don’t have the time or the inclination email me for information on ordering one (prices start at £25 for a 7″x5″ canvas)- there will be a 7 day turnaround – UK mainland only for orders before Christmas