Home » You Can Accomplish This Before Your Effing Head Explodes: Last Minute Gift Idea

You Can Accomplish This Before Your Effing Head Explodes: Last Minute Gift Idea

I’m officially on the naughty list.

I didn’t do a very good job planning a great gift for my Husband.

Even worse?  I didn’t do a very good job planning a great gift idea for my Husband from our Son.

Hangs head.  Swills cocktail.  For Shame.

I’m not alone am I?  Surely I can’t be alone?!

If you’re also on the naughty list, you might consider trying this:



It’s fast, requires few materials, and makes a really sweet gift.

I’ve been wanting to try this technique ever since I saw a tutorial posted at Elsie & Emma’s awesome blog A Beautiful Mess.

Check out the tutorial here for all the details.

Of course, for optimal results, by all means, follow their tutorial.  I however was short on time and resources so I made a few modifications. . .

1.  Elsie and Emma stress over and over again, that for best results you should use a laser printer.  So ideally, you would go to the library or nearest office supply/support joint and run off a few 10 cent copies of the photo you wish to transfer.  I didn’t have time to run out, (i.e., it was 11PM and I was tipsy) so I used our Canon Pixima Ink Jet printer.  I printed one color copy of a photo and one black and white copy of a photo onto regular old 8.5 by 11 copy paper.  I used the “standard” print quality.

2.  I used the Golden Gel Medium suggested in the tutorial and absolutely slathered two 8 by 10 canvases with the medium.  Then I firmly pressed the photo copies face down onto the canvases making sure there were no creases or bubbles.

3.  I allowed the canvases to dry for about 48 hours.  You don’t need nearly this long of a drying time but we went out-of-town so I didn’t have an option.  I would suggest if you are using a ink-jet copy, you allow the medium to dry at least over night because the transfer is going to be less than stellar anyway.

4.  When I returned home from Holiday Hoopla Phase I, I took both canvases and very unceremoniously held them under the faucet and ran warm tap water over them until the paper was very, very wet.  (We seem to have a hard time keeping spray bottles in this joint for some reason).

5.  I started peeling off the paper, taking care that the images were remaining mostly intact.  Then I set them aside to allow them to dry a bit, made dinner, folded a ton of laundry, and got the kid to bed (including teeth brushing and bedtime stories for those of you wondering about how long I let a positively soaking we canvas sit around).

6.  The canvases had dried some but were still damp and I continued to use my fingertips to gently slough off the little bits of paper from the canvas.  Just use care.  You can add more water with a spray bottle or sponge if necessary.

7.  It was becoming apparent I couldn’t really slough off more paper without taking the whole image with it in places so I removed the little balls of wet paper as best as I could from the canvas with a large, firm, dry paintbrush and allowed the canvases to dry completely.  (The color canvas – much to my surprise, looked way better than the black and white one).

8.  Once the canvases were dry, the images looked a little filmy and hazy, (probably because I couldn’t completely remove the paper without taking the image with it – hence the stern warnings from Elsie and Emma to use a laser print copy) SO I slathered on a thick coat of acrylic varnish and it brightened up everything nicely.

9.  Done.  Merry Christmas!  Thanks for the sweet memories!  We LOVE YOU!!

This one's still drying.  Use a fan for faster results.

This one’s still drying. Use a fan for faster results.


1.  You can use this technique with any sized canvas.  You’ll just want to edit the size of the photo you print (i.e., 3 by 5, etc).  I used 8 by 10 because I had canvases that size and let’s face it I’m lazy and it was easy to match up to a standard sized piece of photo copy paper.

2.  Photo paper WILL NOT WORK.  You must print on regular paper.  Although, I’m curious to see what would happen if you tried newsprint. . .if that would be a quirky effect?  Or work at all?

3.  This technique on super small canvases could be really cute as tree ornaments or as gift tags.

4.  If you want a REALLY good quality photo to canvas transfer/print, and have the time and money, check out a commercial site.  Canvas Pop would be my go-to.

5.  For another way to transfer images, check out Citra Solve transfers at Lil Blue Boo.

6.  Do NOT be discouraged.  I’ll admit, in the middle of the ‘sloughing’ process I was about ready to throw in the towel.  The canvases were looking like crap.  But so long as you are somewhat careful and you use the varnish at the end, things should look perfectly imperfect.  I can’t stress enough how much the shiny gloss finish adds to the canvas.  If you don’t have varnish, try using some of the gloss medium you originally used to adhere the photo to the canvas (in a much thinner coat this time).  In the alternative, maybe try glossy Modge Podge?

Happy transferring!  Happy Holidays!  XO