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Do-It-Yourself Framed Canvas Project – From an Ordinary Photo

Last night was our monthly craft club meeting. Our lovely neighbor Tara hosted, and she taught us how to turn a regular photo into a framed work of art! As a professional photographer, Tara has a houseful of amazing photos that I thought were printed on canvas. One hanging in her hallway is stunning, and inspired this month’s meeting!

I know its hard to see in photos, but when you walk up close and touch the surface, they have the delicate texture you find on a canvas. Last night, she let us all in on her secret. And now you can craft your own canvas look-alikes, too (for a fraction of the price I might add)!

Here’s what you will need:
-A standard printed photo of any size (a great place to get prints at really reasonable prices is Costco)
-A frame
-A piece of foam board (you can buy this by the sheet at any craft store with a framing section)
-Mod Podge and foam brushes for applying
-A straight edge, cutting board and exacto knife (if you need to cut down your photo, or foam board)
-Sponges
-Rolling pin thingy
-Black and gold paint (optional)

2) First, find a photo you like and get it printed in the size you desire. 
Ever since a trip to Luckett’s 2 years ago, I have wanted a huge piece of art with a white horse on it. They had a gorgeous framed arabian horse, and wow – I stared at this beauty. But the price tag was insane! I haven’t forgotten that horse, so when this opportunity to make my own big piece of art came along, I hopped on a stock photography website to find my own white horse. I used Shutterstock. I was able to purchased and immediately download a “Super” high-resolution sized image (28.6″ x 19.0″ at 300 DPI) for only $19!! Once I downloaded the image from Shutterstock, I then uploaded it to the Costco photo center website. There I opted to printer a poster-sized photo in 30″ x 20.” This only cost $8.99! And it was ready in just a few hours!
3) Find a frame. Ideally, you want your frame to be the same size as your print. But, if your photo is bigger than the frame, you can always cut it down. Simply use a straight-edge or ruler, cutting board and exacto knife to get the size you need. Cut your foam board to the same size as your print.
Here’s a tip – custom frames can be outrageously expensive (Trust me – the one I wanted for this project from Michael’s was $400!) So, there’s a few things you can do, buy a plain frame and paint it, which is what I did. Or, go to a place like HomeGoods, and score a clearance mirror and just remove the mirrored part. Instant frame!)
4) Once your print and foam board are cut to the correct size, gather your Mod Podge (we all used Matte, but Glossy is also available), a foam brush, and the rolling pin thingy. Liberally apply mod podge all over the foam board, creating a smooth layer. Cover the entire piece and make sure to get the edges. Here’s Tara demonstrating!
5) Next, place your print over the foam board, and begin smoothing it out with the rolling pin thingy. Try to remove any and all air bubbles. Move in all directions. Once you have it smoothly in place, allow it to dry. This might take about 10 minutes – it dries rather quickly. At this point, we stopped to enjoy Tara’s delicacies, which included homemade candied walnuts (to die for)!!

Isn’t this a great photo? Another one of Tara’s awesome shots!

6) After it dries, here comes the fun part…
Spread another liberal layer of mod podge right over the print. Work quickly, so it doesn’t dry, because you immediately want to “stipple” the mod podge with a sponge. We used everyday dish sponges, that were split down the middle to reveal the bumpy texture inside. You can used other sponges, too – choose the size of the holes you prefer. Some sponges create larger stipple, while others create a smaller, finer stipple. We all opted for these dish sponges, which made larger stipple.
 Quickly dab the sponge on the wet mod podge. Dab the whole print, until you see the texture everywhere.

You dab fast, hence the speedy hand photo here!

When you are done, your entire print will look like this. Don’t worry, the mod podge dries clear, and will only leave behind the texture – giving it the canvas look! We waited for it to dry, and then went back and did a second layer of the stippling.

Here’s the white stippled mod podge on my horse.

After they dry, you simply insert your piece into the frame!

Here you can see the texture well in the top-left corner! Liza made this work of art!
She also made this one of her wedding bands on the beach – again you can really see the texture on the shaded areas in the bottom right.
Here’s Tara’s – isn’t the frame awesome! It was originally a mirror!

Here’s two Kelly did!

And Kim’s shot from Hawaii!
Now that we’ve told you how this is done, let’s talk about a few “special techniques,” for aging your photos. Kristi worked on these two dog images as a special memento for her parents who just lost their beloved pets. Since her original photos were a bit blurry, she wanted to make them look old and “grainy,” like a lot of old photos used to be back in the day. For the Photoshop users out there, you would called this adding “noise.” To achieve this noise, Kristi added a tiny bit of black craft paint to her mod podge, stirred well, and then stippled. You can really see it well on the right-hand shot.  They turned out great!
In this photo Tara showed us how to age a piece two ways. She watered down a gold craft paint, and sponged it all over the image. You know how photos tend to turn yellow over the years – she made it happen instantaneously! Then she used watered-down black craft paint to create a silhouette around the edges. So cool!

Tara turned her kitchen into a serious studio for us with long tables covered in paper!

Here she is demonstrating the aging techniques!
Since my horse piece was so big, I needed help to get it smoothed out quickly and remove the air bubbles before the mod dried!

I LOVE how it turned out. I know its really hard to see the texture in my photos, especially on the white areas – but trust me, its there, and it feels so cool!

Remember how I said you could paint your frame? That’s what I did here…finding a cool 20×30 frame or mirror was impossible. I could only find a plain black one. So, I dry-brushed a couple of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colors over the black, and it changed the whole look. I can’t wait to hang this in my home!
Thank you to Tara for all of her hospitality, and for teaching us how to make our own custom-canvases! I know I will be doing this again and again!
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