It’s Monthly DIY Challenge day! This month our challenge item is a blank canvas. We decided to use ours to create a large DIY vintage photo canvas.
If you’re not familiar with our Monthly DIY Challenges, it’s where we get together with some of our favorite blogging friends on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. We each start with the same item or theme, then create our own unique project from it. Last month our challenge was “metallics”. You can check that post out here if you like.
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This project is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. A few months ago I was looking at some of our family’s genealogy records. Both of my paternal grandfather’s parents emigrated from Italy to America when they were young. It’s so fascinating to me and I often think about what it must have been like for them. I was recently looking at their ship manifests and decided I wanted to make a DIY project related to Ellis Island.
To create this project, I used a method I learned from my friends Vicki and Jenn at 2 Bees In A Pod to adhere vintage photographs to canvas.
I used blockposters.com to enlarge the photograph so I could print it on my home computer in sections. Blockposters.com is a free website where you can blow ordinary pictures up to poster size. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a full tutorial for using blockposters.com here.
I printed each section of the enlarged photograph onto tissue paper. I simply cut sections of tissue paper the same size as a piece of copy paper. I used this spray adhesive to attach the tissue paper to the copy paper and run it through the copier. I just lightly sprayed the copy paper with adhesive then stuck the tissue paper to it. This specific adhesive is actually made for fabric, but it’s all I had on hand and it ended up working perfectly. When I was ready to remove the tissue paper it pulled away from the copy paper easily and without tearing. We have this printer that runs the paper straight through the machine without bending it, which makes it easy to do projects like this.
I had a large 30″x 40″ canvas, and needed to print the photo onto 15 separate pages to fit the canvas. Here’s what they looked like printed off. I numbered them on the back of the copy paper to make it easier to piece back together.
I don’t have photos of this part because it was a little tricky to do by myself and take photos at the same time.
I worked in sections, and using a foam brush, brushed a liberal layer of Mod Podge onto the canvas. (Only mod podge the area you’re getting ready to adhere tissue paper to. Don’t brush it onto the whole canvas or it’ll start to dry before you finish). While the Mod Podge is still fresh, immediately take your first piece of printed tissue paper and apply it to the canvas. This is the hardest part. It’s just about impossible to make it completely smooth and there will be wrinkles and maybe even a few tears. The tissue paper is so thin and once it hits the Mod Podge there’s very little repositioning you’ll be able to do without tearing it. You just have to roll with it and embrace the wrinkles and tears.
Continue this process on the entire canvas. Try to line up the tissue paper sections as well as you can so the pictures line up.
Once you’ve decoupaged the entire canvas and it’s dry, brush another layer of Mod Podge over the top to seal and protect it.
When it was finished I was struggling with the torn pieces, especially the right side. I was feeling like I messed it up. I got out some brown glaze and used a paper towel to rub it over the canvas. I immediately used a wet wipe to remove any places where I thought the glaze was too dark. This was my attempt at distressing the photo to make the mistakes look intentional. I’m not sure if I succeeded or not but once I was this far into the project it was too late to turn back. I think I would prefer for it to be less “distressed”, but I don’t completely hate the way it is right now.
I found this ribbon at Hobby Lobby that looked just like chair webbing but was less expensive. I decided to wrap this around the edge of the canvas. I used Mod Podge to adhere the ribbon in place, then I nailed these decorative tacks all the way around the edge as well.
So what do you think? Do you like this one or are the mistakes too much for you? For now, it’s going to hang in our powder room, and I plan to print my great-grandparents ship manifests to hang on the opposite wall.
Ready to see what the other girls did with their canvases? Just click on any of the photos below to see the full tutorial. Thanks so much for stopping by!
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