DIY Pallet Photo Frames with Mod Podge Photo Transfer

If you’re anything like me you have approximately 1.4 million digital images stored somewhere that have never seen the light of day. And it’s a shame really, isn’t it!

That’s why I knew exactly what I would do when I found out I got to work with Mod PodgePhoto Transfer Medium. It was time to bring some of those photos out into the light.

 

 

Of course, since I work with wood on a daily basis it only made sense for me to transfer these photos to wood. We made these wooden frames from pallet wood. Three boards wide with strips of pallet wood on the back to hold it all together. I left the wood natural so the aging and patina you see here occurred all by itself. Beautiful, isn’t it!

I used these photos that I took at a birthday party almost a year ago. I took the digital files to Office Max and had them print me color copies on regular copy paper – MUST BE LASER PRINTS, NOT INKJET. Be sure to have them reverse (mirror-image) your photo or graphic, especially if it has words or letters. It will come out backward otherwise. I trimmed the photos down to get rid of any white edges as the medium is not transparent.

Now it’s time to get to work!

Looks a little scary at first. You apply enough medium to completely cover your photo copy until you can no longer see any of the photo through the medium.

See! It almost disappears against the white background. Once you’ve coated it completely it’s time to apply it to your surface. Make sure to press gently from the center out to remove any air bubbles.

And now, you wait! This is the absolute hardest part. From here, you must let it sit for 24 hours to cure before removing the paper.

After you’ve waited 24 hours for the medium to cure it’s time to remove the paper. Place a damp towel or sponge over the paper and let it sit for 2 minutes.

Now it’s time to gently rub the paper away from your image being careful not to press too hard and remove part of your image.

Rub in a circular motion until all of the paper has been removed.

Have a dust pan on hand!

Now. I told you before to rub gently so as not to accidentally remove any of your image. But being me, I actually want to remove some of the image. I was going for more of a rugged look so while I was careful around their faces I purposefully rubbed some of the image away, especially where the wooden slats came together. And then I went back with a sanding block and rounded off the edges of each image a bit.

I especially like the more rustic look here! I think it works nicely with the old door in the background.

And finally, I sealed each of the images with my Matte Mod Podge, which I ALWAYS have on hand and use for everything.

And there you have it! It’s as easy as that to get some of those photos out of your computer and onto your walls. Or any other place you’d like to put them since you can use this medium on fabric, glass, metal, wood and terra cots pots (I know this because I also made some lovely pots, too!).

So why not head to a Michaels Store near you and get started! You can find Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium there. And you can find more from Plaid Crafts, here:

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Jamie Lott

This post was written as part of a campaign with The Blueprint Social. All opinions are my own.



Comments

  1. 5

    says

    Great project!!

    You don’t specifically say, but it looks like you position the photo image face down on the wood after coating with the transfer medium, right? So the finished product is actually the mirror image of the original photo?

    • 6

      says

      Hi Wendy,

      Actually you could have them print a mirror image (or reverse image) for you so that once it’s done the transfer looks exactly as the original. You would have to do this if your image contained words. Thank you!

  2. 9

    says

    As always, I love your project. And I also love the terra-cotta pots. I think I’m going to have to make me up a batch of those. They’d make a nice addition to my deck and my booth, too.

  3. 12

    says

    Awesome tutorial…I have some old barn wood, I will be trying this with. I am a new blogger and would love it if you checked out my blog and tell me what you think. I rent a space at a local Antique Mall in Northern California with a focus on painting vintage previously loved furniture. I love chalk paint and usually make my own custom chalk paint. ;)

    http://charshappyplace.blogspot.com/

    Thanks a ton!

    Char

    • 13

      Elayne says

      Where can I find wood pieces to work with? Also, another site mentioned modpodge and another ingredient

      This will be my first time to try it.

      Can someone help me.

      Thanks,

      Elayne

      • 14

        jamie says

        Hi Elanyne,

        You could try your local hobby or craft stores for wooden plaques to try this one. It also works on fabric so you could choose an canvas instead and make it look like painting!

        I’m not sure what the other site mentions but what I used here is Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to do the actual transfer. Then I used Mod Podge in Matte to seal once dry. Hope this helps!

  4. 19

    says

    Hi, Does the ModPodge leave the item tacky?
    I used modpodge to seal a collage book cover and it remained tacky and sticks to everything, even to the point where it has damaged the carefully done collage. I am so disappointed as I had heard so much good stuff about he product. Are you able to help restore my faith in it?

    • 20

      says

      HI Dee,

      I am so sorry I missed your question earlier. Some Mod Podge needs a coating of clear spray sealer to prevent tackiness, it really depends on the kind of Mod Podge you are using – i.e. Matte vs Glossy, etc. If I’m decoupaging something that will come in contact with other things (for example, it’s not hanging on a wall remaining untouched) as it sounds your collage did, I would spray it with a clear sealer. The pics I did in this post were sealed with the Matte Mod Podge and did not require a spray sealer. Hope this helps!

    • 28

      jamie says

      Did she try it on wood? If so, was it shiny? I haven’t had that happen before but I’d be glad to offer some advice if you’d like to give me some more details.

    • 30

      jamie says

      You should only do this with a map if you can print it in mirror image. If it’s a pre printed map and you try this it will be backwards. Does that make sense? So, be sure whatever your image is it is a mirror image. If there are words on the image the words should be backwards on the image you wish to transfer so that once they are transfered they will no longer be backwards. What you are doing here is literally transferring the ink in the image and then washing away the paper. If you already have a printed map you’d like to use your best bet would be to use original mod podge and glue it directly onto the surface. Hope this helps!

      • 31

        Elayne Hassen says

        Hi,

        It’s Elayne once again. Please do I need to use medium gel first, the face the pic down overnight. Then out the mod podge on top of pic after the paper is peeled off?

        Or can I just use mod podge photo transfer?

        Please once again help. Step by step.

        Thanks and sorry.

  5. 32

    Melissa says

    What kind of copy did you make? Was it laser printer or an inkjet printer? I just tried this with an inkjet and the colors came out awful.

    • 33

      jamie says

      I am sorry Melissa! I have always thought I addressed this in my post but it must be a LASER PRINT as per the package directions in order for it to work. I have updated my post to include this. Thank you for making me realize I neglected a very important detail. I hope you’ll try it again!

      • 34

        Melissa says

        So, failure #2. Don’t try this on a painted canvas. The paint will bubble off. :( On the plus side, the laser copy worked great (well, until the it came off with the bubbling craft paint…d’oh!). On to experiment #3.
        :D

  6. 36

    Stephanie says

    Beautiful work! I would love to try it with some of my wedding photos. Can you speak a little more to how you prepared the wood? Is it sealed with anything before or after? I saw that you sanded it down but did you do anything else to it? Thanks so much!

    • 37

      jamie says

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks! I did not prep the wood aside from sanding and I sealed it with a matte Mod Podge. Hope that helps!

      • 38

        Stephanie says

        Thanks! Very helpful. So you just covered the entire wood piece in Matte Modge Podge, not just over the image?

        Also, one other question as I was looking at it… I noticed one of your photos, the one with the white door, obviously has white in it. Does that mean the lazer printers print white ink on paper? Otherwise, the white door wouldn’t show but instead reveal the brown wood of the pallet because there isn’t any white ink on the paper. Does this make sense?

        • 39

          jamie says

          Personally I just covered the image itself. Even though it is Matte Mod Podge you’d still see it on the wood. If you don’t want that, just cover the image and not the “frame” around it. Your second question is a great question and the answer is while this medium does transfer ink (colors), it is also not clear when it dries. It dries white. So the white door in my image is actually the medium you just can’t tell that because of the shadowing (from the black color) that gives it dimension, on top of that. Hopefully that makes sense. Long story short, you will be fine if you image has something white in it! ;)

      • 42

        Elayne says

        Hi,

        I thought u need to use the medium gel first, then face the photo down then let it dry over night. Then use mod podge.

        Is this correct? If not, please step by step. I’m new at this.

        Thank you,

        Elayne

        • 43

          jamie says

          You will be using Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to do this project. Using regular Mod Podge in Matte is optional to seal.

      • 44

        Elayne says

        Hi,

        I thought u need to use the medium gel first, then face the photo down then let it dry over night. Then use mod podge.
        I’m new at this.
        Help.
        Thank you,

        Elayne

  7. 45

    Vickie Jones says

    I tried doing the photo on canvas, put mod podge on the canvas. Let dry over night. Got the paper wet & started rubbing the paper off, but was unable to get all the paper off without taking the picture off with it. I let it dry & the picture came out hazy. tried with a layer of Mod Podge to make it look better. Now it look like an old painting. How do I get all the paper off without making holes in the picture?

    • 46

      jamie says

      Hi Vickie! Correct me if I’m wrong but did you put the mod podge transfer medium onto the canvas and then the pic on top of the mod podge transfer medium? If so, you would need to put the mod podge onto the photo and then the photo onto the canvas. Correct me if I am misunderstanding.

      Either way it sounds like you could have rubbed too hard. I try to completely saturate my paper before rubbing so that I barely have to rub. I’ll put it like this, the other day I did a transfer onto towels (not terry cloth) and instead of rubbing myself I just tossed them in the washing machine. They’ve been washed several times now with my other towels (including bleach) which I DO NOT recommend but I mention it because this stuff really does hold up. The other thing I would say is how thickly did you apply the mod podge transfer medium? It should be around 1/4″ thick. If applied too thinly that could also cause the holes. Let me know if this was helpful and good luck!

    • 48

      jamie says

      Mod Podge makes an outdoor sealer! You could always seal your piece with that for outdoors after you got done with the transfer. Have fun!

  8. 49

    devin says

    I adore this project, what size of photo and pallet framing are you using? I have tried this but I was having issues with rubbing the photo off, I did place mine in the oven on the lowest temperature to speed up the drying process, so that might have been the cause of the issue.

    • 50

      jamie says

      My frames are 10 1/2″ x 14 which is basically the width of three pallet boards. I based my photo size on the frame size and chose to go with 6 1/2 x 10″ photos to keep the look proportionate. I definitely wouldn’t try speeding up the drying process. That could definitely have been the issue. Be sure to to give them the full 24 hrs to cure. Also, make sure your medium is 1/4″ thick and that you don’t rub too hard when removing the paper. Good luck!

  9. 53

    Diana says

    I am so glad to have found your terrific tutorial on photo transfer!! I have a project that involves doing a photo transfer on the back of a terrarium and on the outside. This will create a background image when viewing the terrarium from the front. The terrarium is actually a round glass canister. I have been concerned about the photo transfer holding up being on the outside and possibly subject to being handled if the terrarium is moved around. It seemed to me that the photo transfer should be sealed after it is complete to better protect it. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any tutorials that address using a sealant as the final step until finding yours. The others just take you through removing the paper backing and that’s that.

    Would you recommend using Mod Podge or a spray sealant for my project? Whatever sealant you recommend, should it be applied while the transfer is still wet from removing the paper backing or allowed to dry first? Thank you in advance!

    • 54

      jamie says

      Honestly I wouldn’t seal it at all. I’m not sure how it will work on glass, it may work great. I would test it on something less important first. If it is successful there’s really no need to seal it. I did a transfer on bathroom towels and launder them normally (with bleach!) and they hold up just fine. For future reference though, when you do seal a transfer it is best to wait for it to dry and I typically use mod podge in matte to seal.

  10. 55

    Helen says

    Hi,

    This is great and will be doing on some wood pieces. You said you are not sure about glass, would the same go for metal? – ie non porous compared to wood, canvas or pottery.

    My first encounter with mod podge – bottles ordered….

    Thanks for the tutorial

    • 56

      jamie says

      I’m almost certain you could use it on glass and metal. I would just definitely suggest doing a test first. Have fun!

  11. 57

    Nett says

    Hey Love this tutorial and would love to try but they don’t sell mod podge where i live. Is there another alternative you could suggest?

    Thanks in advance

    • 58

      jamie says

      Gee I’m not sure! I would say look for any other photo transfer medium available in your area. You can also achieve this with a gel medium. I would definitely do a trial run first before starting on your main project. Good luck!

  12. 59

    Ana says

    Absolutely love this idea and your frames look gorgeous!

    Have you tried other medium brands such as Liquitex and Golden? If so, which of the 3 did you like the best? All are found in our local craft store and I’m a bit confused as to which I should purchase.

    Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try it!

    • 60

      jamie says

      I have tried other brands. I definitely prefer the Mod Podge to Liquitex or Golden. As an artist I have used them both and while they have their merits I would not suggest them for this project. Hope that helps!

  13. 63

    megpie says

    HELP!! so after rubbing the paper off, which isnt working very well but practice makes perfect< do i seal it with mod podge right away or do i need to let it dry first then seal it?

    • 64

      jamie says

      Yes, let you project dry. Be sure that you’ve gotten off all of the paper and then seal with your general purpose Mod Podge.

  14. 65

    Shayna says

    How amazing is this! I’m always giving photos as gifts and this is an awesome way to change it up a bit! I can’t wait to try :)! Two questions, though- it looks in your picture as if you had it completely covered with the towel before you started removing the paper. Did you do that just for the tutorial or is that a something that needs to be done? And 2nd, does your towel need to be damp when removing the paper? Thanks so much!

    • 66

      jamie says

      I saturated the towel, not too wet but damp, and placed it over each picture to let it thoroughly soak through the paper. Then I used the same damp towel to gently rub away the paper. I find this is the easiest method. Hope that helps! Thanks!

    • 68

      jamie says

      You could stain around the picture after it’s all dried and sealed. Or you could stain and allow that to dry completely and then do the transfer. I think that’d look great!

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