Everyone says you can’t use Mod Podge on inkjet images. But I’m here to tell you, YOU CAN!
There are tons of brilliant tutorials out there, with step-by-step instructions on how to transfer photos onto a variety of surfaces. I’ve even tried a few, with varying degrees of success and you’ll find links to a bunch of my favourites at the end of this post.
The vast majority of tutorials say you must use toner-based images, i.e. photocopies or prints from a laser printer. So I wanted to share with you a simple method for making photo canvases, using Mod Podge and your home inkjet printer.
For the uninitiated, Mod Podge is a water-based sealer, glue and finish that’s generally used for decoupage crafts (that’s the sticking of paper to stuff for you non-crafty types!)
Available in various finishes, including Matt, Gloss and Sparkle, UK readers can buy Mod Podge from Hobbycraft, or you can do a search for it online. There are rumours you can make your own with a mixture of PVA glue and water but many crafters don’t recommend it, so I use the original. For these canvases, I used a “Gloss” finish.
Rather than transferring your image, this method makes an equally impressive piece of artwork by mounting your photo onto the canvas.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted these homemade photo canvases in the OneandSeventy living room living room gallery.
The black and white is one of our Wedding Photos. Awwww…weren’t we cute? I printed it on a laser printer.
The other is one of my renowned arty shots of a bottle of Dom Perignon. It was printed on an inkjet.
I made BOTH with Mod Podge!
The (very logical) reason people say not to use water-based mediums with inkjet images is because (clearly), there is a very strong chance the ink will run but I have to say, my first attempt didn’t turn out too badly at all. I confess, the result WAS a little distressed, but the ink didn’t run nearly as much as I’d expected it to.
Unfortunately, it happened to distress the all-important letters, which offended my perfectionist tendencies, so I started again. Rather than waste it, I ripped off the photo and re-used the canvas… and here’s where it got interesting.
I don’t know if it’s the layer of dried Mod Podge that maybe acted as a primer, but I discovered that when I repeated the process on top of the old layer, the result was AH-MAZ-ING! There was hardly any distressing, virtually no ink run AND the photo was all lovely and shiny.
Totally OneandSeventy wall worthy!
To test my theory, I made another photo canvas using an image I found as a free download on Stockvault.
This time, before mounting the photo, I applied a layer of Mod Podge to “prime” the canvas and it totally worked! I think you’ll agree the result is pretty bloody splendid!
- Canvas – You can pick up cheap canvases all over the place. Try The Works.
- Black Paint (optional)
- Photo – printed on laser OR inkjet printer
- Mod Podge
- Foam brush or paint brush
- Foam roller, brayer or spoon (optional)
How to make canvas photos using an inkjet printer and Mod Podge
Using regular printer paper, print your photo and cut to size.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the gallery canvases have black edges. If you want the same, do that first. There’s no need to be too careful, as your photo will cover the front. In fact painting around the edge of the front of your canvas will help to create a neat finish.
Apply a generous layer of Mod Podge to the front of your canvas and let it dry.
Apply a second generous layer of Mod Podge. You want enough to cover the canvas, but not so much that it’s going to splurge everywhere when you apply your image. You might want to work on a covered surface and have yourself some kitchen roll or a damp rag to hand, just in case!
Gently position your photo FACE UP on the canvas.
Smooth down the photo to remove as many creases and air bubbles as you can.
I use my hands and a foam brush, but you could use a roller, a brayer (if you have one), or even the back of a spoon. I find it works best to work from one side to the other, smoothing out as you go, as if you were applying sticker. Don’t forget to smooth the edges – it’ll make it look like your photo is part of the canvas.
Work fairly quickly, but know that you do have a bit of time to re-position and get it right before the Mod Podge sets.
Once you’re happy, apply another layer of Mod Podge over the top.
Allow to dry.
Hang, stand back and marvel at your own handiwork! As always, I turned to my well-stocked supply of 3M command strips to hang these babies.
So what do you think? I hope you enjoyed this project. Maybe you feel inspired to create some photo canvases of your own? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or come join the chat over on Facebook. Meanwhile, read on for the links I promised to a bunch of great photo transfer tutorials.
How to transfer photos to any surface:
Transferring laser prints with Gel Medium and/or Mod Podge
My go-to tutorial for transferring any image onto canvas is this one by A Beautiful Mess. It does say you can’t use Mod Podge as a substitute for the Gel Medium layer, but other crafters swear by it.
Having tried it myself, I can confirm that it does work, but it also leaves behind a LOT of white “film” and rubbing it off is tough on the hands. If I do this in the future, I’ll bite the bullet and go with “Liquitex” or a similar gel medium.
This video clearly explains the process.
How to transfer inkjet photos using label paper, freezer paper or tissue paper
I tried this for transferring a photo onto canvas, but the result was a little too distressed for my liking. It’s fab, if you’re a fan of shabby chic, but it wasn’t the look I was going for. I have, however, successfully used this method for transferring an image to flower pots. Stay tuned – I’ll be sharing that project soon!
Again, for the benefit of UK readers, Freezer Paper is what they use across the puddle for, well, freezing food! It is NOT the same as baking paper; Freezer Paper has a waxy side, which is what makes this project work.
You can buy Reynolds Freezer Paper online or in Hobbycraft but although cheap as chips Stateside, it’s £9.95 for 12m here, so unless you’re going to use it regularly, it can work out an expensive option. Also, you have to cut it down to put it through the printer which frankly, is a massive faff.
The alternative is label paper (after you’ve used the labels of course!). Already the right size for printing AND cheaper (assuming you use the labels) this is what I used for the flower pots.
This tutorial from Unexpected Elegance shows how to transfer your images onto wood, but it can be just as easily used on other surfaces, including canvas and fabric.
This technique from Little Bit Funky uses Mod Podge and Tissue Paper.
How to transfer inkjet photos to wood
This quick and easy tutorial shows us how to transfer an inkjet image to wood using label paper mentioned above and is referenced in my DIY Ouija board post.
How to transfer photos to wood using carbon paper
Last but not least, we have the good old-fashioned carbon paper method, which I used to make OneandSeventy’s house sign.
That little lot ought to get your creative juices flowing!
Do you have a favourite transfer method? Drop a comment below with your projects, tips and links!
A hui hou,
This post first appeared on The World of Suzy Homemaker on 27 February 2015