Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tissue Paper Canvas Prints

You'll have to bear with me on this post. It's been almost a month since I've done this project, and some of the steps are a bit foggy in my brain. As always, if something does not make sense, or more clarification is needed, please, do not hesitate to ask!

This year for Christmas, my father was the only one to receive a handmade gift. Between school, kids, and moving twice, I simply did not have time to make more homemade gifts. That being said, this is perhaps the most favorite gift I have ever made.

I made him a wooden sign, with the quote "The only thing better than having you as my dad, is my girls having you as their papa." It was cute, but I felt it needed something more. Perhaps a picture of my girls. I stumbled upon the idea of canvas prints at home while browsing Pinterest, and after some additional research I put a few different methods together. This is not the only way to do it, but it was what worked best for me. I found a wonderful video on this method, but I cannot find the link now. If you do a Google search of DIY Photo Canvas, you will come up with a lot of hits. Finding a method that works for you is key to success in this project. I had many mistakes, and had to throw away a few attempts.

Supplies needed:
3 pack of 8x10 Canvas - These are roughly $3 at Walmart. They are thin and fit into a photo frame.
Inkjet printer - This will not work as well with a laser printer, if at all. I do not have a laser printer to test. In fact, I have a super cheap deskjet.
Spray adhesive
Glue stick
Tissue paper - preferably white, but I'm sure any light color would work. Just remember that any "white" space will end up the color of your paper. I got a pack of 50 sheets at the dollar store.
Copy paper
Rotary cutter
Straight edge

I had everything on hand to do this project, except the tissue paper and canvas. I spent $4 on those supplies, so with that, this project already paid for itself!

 This is what the pack of canvas looks like.

The next few steps are probably the most tedious of all of them. First, you'll need to trim your tissue paper to the same width as a sheet of copy paper. Leave about 2" of additional length, so your tissue paper should be roughly 8 1/2" x 13".

Now, take your glue stick, and run it along the two long edges of your copy paper, and place it glue side down on the tissue paper. Line up the edges, and smooth it out as best you can. Then, take the extra overhang of tissue paper, and glue it to the back of the copy paper.

You should end up with something like this. The glue stick will help hold the tissue paper in place while we print, but will allow for removal later.

Figure out which side your printer will print on, and load paper accordingly. You'll want the tissue paper side to be printed on. The copy paper allows for some stiffness, and easier feeding through the printer. The first time I did this, I did not use copy paper, and my printer jammed. As you can see, it's a basic printer with no bells or whistles.

As a note, I printed these using Windows Live Gallery. So, the following options/settings are for that program. You'll want to find similar settings on your computer program. This will help the printing go smoothly. I have also tried to enlarge the pictures so that you may see them a little better.
 On the first screen, you'll want to do several things. First, make sure you have 8x10 selected. Second, change the paper type to Specialty Paper. And third, make sure Fit picture to Frame is unchecked, unless you want a large white border. You'll see what I mean in a few steps.
 As a precaution, I double check the settings through my printer menu. Specialty Paper is important, as this tells the printer to slow down!
 Since my photos are black and white, I make sure I have the printer set to print in High Quality Grayscale.
Finally, I print, and hold my breath!

After printing, I allowed the ink to dry for at least an hour, the first time. I didn't want to risk smudging it. I realized it wouldn't smudge after a short 5-10 minutes. Then, I cut a small slit in each side of a corner, to aid in removal of the copy paper. You'll want to go slowly, and be careful. If you look closely, you can see where it ripped up towards the top. Also, this was printed with "Fit Picture to Frame" unchecked, so that it did not cut off the top of her head. However, it left me with a lot of white space. I didn't notice how much until later, and if this happens to you, no worries, it's fixable!

Take your spray adhesive and spray your canvas. Just a light coating will do, do not soak it! Line up the photo and slowly smooth it over the canvas. If you get bubbles, slowly lift and reposition, and smooth out again. The key is to go slowly.

When you are finished, flip it over, and using your rotary cutter, trim the excess from all sides.

Here are the three I did from that pack. As you can see, the one with "Fit Picture to Frame" unchecked left me with an odd white border, and I just didn't like it. So, I peeled the tissue paper off, and scrubbed the canvas with a steel wool pad to remove the adhesive. I rinsed it well, and allowed it to dry, and picked a different photo.

This was the final product of my father's gift. The close up shot of my oldest worked much better than the one of her against the tree.

And for the remaining photo, I painted an old frame black, added some ribbon to hang it.

If you want, you can mod podge them to seal the prints. I did, and notice that it causes the ink to run a bit. So, the second batch I did not seal them. I also noticed it looks much more authentic if you rub your fingers over it really well after smoothing out the bubbles. This allows the canvas texture to really come through.

Now that I've made 6 of them, it takes me less than a half hour to make 3.  It really is a quick project, and quite cheap as well.

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