DIY Gift: Wood Mounted Photos

You guys, I am almost completely ready for Christmas. Whew, that feels good to say. I've said it before, but one of the things that makes my heart happiest is making gifts for the people I love. Because I have so much fun with it, my Christmas to do list never really feels overwhelming or like a burden, but it still feels nice to know after this weekend, I will likely just get to sit back and watch more movies, drink more peppermint anything, and just soak up the rest of what Christmas has to offer.

Of all of the gifts I've made this year, I have to say that this one is my favorite. It was really fun to do, and so simple, to boot.

A couple of disclosures: I'm sharing the details of the project with a different picture because I was a big blogger failure and didn't take pictures the first time around. Also, the second time I tried this project was a total bust, but I'll share what went wrong, and we all get to learn. 

  1. Wood board cut to the size of your choice. I chose some leftover pine board I had from another project that is an inch thick. I cut mine at home, but in the past, I have had my boards cut to my specs at Lowe's, so know that you don't need a saw. For my first photo, I cut the board to 5x5", and for this one, 9x9".
  2. Printed photo
  3. Spray adhesive
  4. Clear Acrylic Sealer
  5. Mod Podge
  6. Paintbrush
  7. Drop Cloth
Once I had my board cut to size, I sanded all of the sides until they were smooth. I also sanded the edges a bit to soften them. I then wiped down the surfaces and let them dry, to create the cleanest starting point possible.

There are many choices you can make for this project; the first is what size to make your photo in relation to your board. For more of a canvas look, you can have your photo run right up to the edges of your wood block. I wanted a bit more of a natural look, so I chose to make my photo smaller than the wood block and leave some of the wood exposed. I printed my picture as an 8x8" and left a small white border.

Here is where I went wrong *sigh*. For both photos, I printed on cheap photocopy paper on a laserjet printer. For the smaller photo, I didn't have any problems, but when I started to work on the larger one, I ended up with a lot of bubbling. Be sure to print on something a bit heavier and sturdier like cardstock or photo paper, depending on the look you want to create, to avoid bubbling.

To mount any kind of paper, I've found it best to use an adhesive spray - it provides really great, full coverage, but doesn't lead to any of the wrinkling that comes with glue. I first sprayed the back of my photo completely, then laid it down on top of the wood block, smoothing it, starting in one corner and ending in the opposite. Here's the other beautiful thing about adhesive spray - if you find that your photo wasn't laid completely straight the first time, it's really simple to peel it away and try again.

Once the adhesive dried, I wanted to provide some protection to the paper before applying the modpodge, to avoid any kind of color bleeding. I used a clear acrylic sealer and applied four coats, waiting about 10-15 minutes between coats for drying.

You could choose to finish your project here. The acrylic spray provides protection and a nice sheen, but I wanted to add a brushstroke look, so I applied Mod Podge on top. I added two layers, using a paint brush and horizontal strokes. If you want more of a canvas look, on your second layer, you may choose to use vertical strokes.

The great thing about this project is all of the ways you can customize it. Again, because I was going for a more natural look, I simply finished off the edges of the wood block with some polyurethane. You may choose to paint or stain the sides of the block to give it a little something extra. In any event, I would recommend taking the time to add the polyurethane on top to protect your project long term and make it easier to dust.

I can't wait to gift this one to a really special lady in my life - my husband's grandmother, whom I call grandma, myself. She has been a wonderful addition to my family; we get to see her most Sundays for dinner after church, where she shares these beautiful moments with Lucy, reading to her as we wait for food to be served. I hope she treasures this picture of the two of them as much as I know I always will.

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