How to Transfer Weird Animal Pictures onto Wood Blocks

15 Apr

I’m finally here to tell you about one of my DIY projects that I did a couple weekends ago!

I got this idea from Pinterest, and didn’t really think about it for a while… until Todd and I bought a new kitchen hutch and had to cut off some excess wood to get it to fit between the fridge and the wall. And then we had about 12 random pieces of nice, light wood that would be great for photo transfers! Each one was about 6”x3” and worked perfect for the pictures that I found.



Which were of kind of creepy Victorian people with animal heads. One friend took a look at the finished project (already hung in the bedroom) and said, “I’m glad those are in your bedroom and not mine, because I wouldn’t be able to sleep.” And that seems to be the general consensus, but Todd and I like that kind of weird stuff, so we’re okay with it in the bedroom.

creepy animals, anyone?

creepy animals, anyone?

So, how’d we do it?

First, it started with a trip to Staples. The directions I found online, which I link in this post, say to use pictures from a laser printer (say that like Dr. Evil, by the way). And we have an ink jet at home, so I went to Staples. Either the guy working thought I was cute or he really hated his job, because he gave me the prints for free for having to wait a few minutes. It cost Staples roughly $0.10 to make them so it wasn’t a huge loss. I graciously thanked him, of course, and then we proceeded to spend over $160 on other things. Of course.

(Note: if there are any words or things that will not turn out right if you don’t print them backwards, make sure to use a photo editing tool to turn your pictures around. Mine didn’t need this step to look normal.)

The next step was to go to Michael’s and get the two items listed in those instructions. What I didn’t know is that combined, they would come out to close to $25 (not including brushes, just the mediums). No, thank you. Fortunately a lovely Michael’s employee told me about Mod Podge’s photo transfer medium. Yes! Exactly what I needed!

Mod Podge!

Mod Podge!

The directions on the back are for transferring photos onto fabric, but it will work on most surfaces that are somewhat porous.

Next, we went home and Todd cut off pieces of the already small wood chunks to make them closer to the photo size. Four of them were 3”x3”, one was about 3.5”x3” and two others were about 4”x3”.

I made sure to follow the directions on the back of the packaging as closely as I could. I had pretty much abandoned the directions I found online at this point.

I put enough of the medium over the picture and then moved it around with the sponge brush (which the Mod Podge came with!) so that I could barely see the picture through it.

always put something down so you don't get Mod Podge all over your boyfriend's work table! er...

always put something down so you don’t get Mod Podge all over your boyfriend’s work table! er…

Next, I laid the picture down onto the wood (goopy side down). There was enough wiggle room that I could position it better if it wasn’t right the first time. Then I used the edge of the cardboard packaging (a bone stick or credit card would work too, anything with a hard, long edge), smoothed out the picture and removed any excess that squooshed out the edges. Yes, squooshed. (When you’re done, make sure to clean out your sponge brush thoroughly! Or buy a new one. I don’t care what you do. But you’ll need it later.)

they look so blank, but hang on for a day or two!

they look so blank, but hang on for a day or two!

Once I did all of them, I let them sit. The instructions say to wait 24 hours. I’m not sure if less would be fine, so you should probably follow the instructions like a good little doobie, like I did. I think I waited about 36 hours though since I went out of town with Todd.

When I came back, they looked pretty much the same. I got a bowl of water (just room temp, not hot) and my handy dandy sponge brush. I moistened the side of the wood piece with the picture on it. Some things I noted: too much water made some of the picture come off. I wanted this to happen, because I wanted the pieces to look old. You might not want that to happen, so I would suggest tipping the wood piece back over the water bowl so the excess drains off.

wet vs. dry

wet vs. dry

Next, I used my nail to rub the edge off a little bit. I found this to be an easy way to get it started, but it was a lot of work to do each piece, the whole piece, like that. I ended up using a piece of a paper towel to rub off the rest of the paper. This worked really well and gave a good shine to the picture. It managed to get almost all of the paper gunk off in just a few good scrubs.

rub away that paper!

rub away that paper!

Instead of wetting them all at once, I did one at a time. I found if they sat for about 30 seconds to a minute, they were fine. But if they soaked too long or too little, I had issues. If you’re doing a large piece, I would recommend wetting it in stages.

paper towel method.

paper towel method.

Because my pictures looked aged, I decided to let some of the picture itself come up off the wood. In some cases, I used my nail to pick off the edges a little bit. It doesn’t come off that easily, but the edges might peel up a little if you’re not careful. Of course, I wanted it to look this way, so I made an effort to peel it up.



Couth Cat

After I finished all of them, I let them dry. Then I applied about 5 very thin, even coats of clear spray paint in a glossy finish to give them a nice shine and to seal them.



Then they sat in the garage… for a while. So I didn’t put them up for more than a week. I had good reasoning though! I had nothing to put them up with! I went to Tar-jhay and got some simple sticky squares that were safe to use on painted walls and easily removable.

I took them inside next and laid them on the floor in different arrangements to see how I liked them. Once I settled on a pattern, I put a sticky piece on each back and stuck it up on the wall.

And here you have the final product! I realized once they were up how small they looked on the wall. I might move them in the future, or add more, but at the moment I think they look good since we have zero artwork up in our room besides these.

on the wall (ignore the hideous yellow that's going on, our walls are NOT yellow)

on the wall (ignore the hideous yellow that’s going on, our walls are NOT yellow)

up close (again, ignore the weird color, I tried to fix it)

And here are some better pictures of the transfers:

Couth Cat

Couth Cat

The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man

Lady Antelope

Lady Antelope

Miss Kitten and Kitten Twins

Miss Kitten and Kitten Twins

I am the Walrus

I am the Walrus and  a Foxy Lady

So that was my first foray into the world of photo transferring! I want to do something much bigger next time, like a map of something cool. California, or maybe the road to Mordor :) What are your big DIY plans?

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4 Responses to “How to Transfer Weird Animal Pictures onto Wood Blocks”

  1. Casey April 15, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    I always wondered if this actually worked! So cool :)

    Conveniently I have a piece of wood in my trunk that is not being used so I might have to give this a try!

    • paigetopus April 15, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      definitely try it! it was so much fun, and way easier than I expected. the only thing is that the bottle of mod podge isn’t very big. and I don’t think they had larger sizes (at least not at the store, maybe on a website?)

  2. interiorsbykenz April 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    I LOVVVVVVVVE It. I love the weird animal pictures. My favorite is the elephant man. :) Great project!

    • paigetopus April 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      thanks! and YES! the elephant man is my favorite too :)

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