This past weekend, Rob and I ventured to Tallahassee, Florida for Rj & Will's Wedding. And although these two studs are now YouTube famous, I've known Rj since we were 11 years old, and we met Will when Rj introduced him to us in college, long before they began vlogging about their life together. So to Rob and I, they are simply our dear, dear friends whom we love tremendously.
I was honored to be a bridesmaid for these two amazing men, and the entire weekend was just such a memorable experience! Rob and I gained some new friends, re-connected with some old ones, danced more than my poor quads could handle, and ate more late-night Whataburger than my stomach cared to allow. And although we had a few red-eye flights in there and managed to pack a week's worth of fun into 3 days and 2 nights, I wouldn't have traded it for the world ;)
We decided to stray from the registry and instead wanted to DIY a gift that held a personal touch (did you expect anything else?) - and we ultimately settled on a photo-to-wood transfer.
To re-create your own version, you'll need:
A wooden plaque of any size/shape
A LASER printed photo that will fit your smooth wooden surface (just ask Kinkos to print it out from a flashdrive)
Liquitex Gloss Gel Medium
Antique Matte Mod Podge
Cloth/rag *not shown
Optional: Small wooden piece for wood-burning, a Versa-Tool to do so, Letters or other accoutrements to add dates/initials etc.
The very first thing you'll do is apply a thick layer of gel medium to your wood. Be generous - you'll need a good coating in order for the photo to adhere to the wood (and pay special attention to the edges/corners!)
Once you have a good, thick, amount, even out your layer with your sponge to make sure all surfaces are smooth and covered.
Take your photo and lay it face-down, right on top of the gel medium. Pressing firmly to make sure every surface of the photo is attached to the wooden plaque. Remove any bubbles by lightly running a credit card over the back of the photo, gently smoothing out any bumps.
LET DRY OVERNIGHT. The photo needs time to set and if you try to remove the paper too early, your photo will not have transferred completely onto the wood.
Once it has dried overnight, wet your cloth (it should be very wet) and lay it on top of your photo back to wet the entire surface.
Carefully, but firmly, begin to rub the paper off of the wood (it will come off in little rolls and scraps). This process takes awhile - don't rush it! If you rub too hard, you'll risk removing photo remnants from the wood where there may not have been enough gel. Just take your time, and rub off all the paper until you have a vibrant photo.
Once you can see the picture clearly, there'll likely be more tiny flecks of paper - I let mine dry for an hour or so, then I went back at it with a wet cloth again to remove more paper. I had to do this 4-5 times to remove all the paper completely.
Once you're totally happy with your picture and nearly all of the paper has been removed, let it dry if needed, and then start brushing over your photo with your Antique Matte Mod Podge.
Let your Mod Podge dry before adding any detailing to your plaque. I chose to use my Versa Tool to wood-burn the wedding date onto a small wooden piece, which I later adhered with E-6000. I also bought these "R" and "W" detailed letters, and glued the stacks together to create thick 3D monograms to go above the wedding date.
And voila! A beautiful, personalized, wedding gift that any couple would be happy to hang in their home and commemorate the day that changed their life.
I'd really love to start a photo-wall with these wooden plaques, maybe a "travel wall" where each wooden piece displays a place that Rob and I have visited together. Have any ideas for your own photo-to-wood transfer? I'd love to hear them below!
**UPDATE: I now sell this item in my brand new Etsy Shop! This way, you can have a custom wedding gift for your loved ones, even if you don't have time to do it yourself! Check out the shop here :) It's brand new, but I'll be adding new items soon!