06 May 2015

DIY: faux canvas prints

It’s almost Mother’s Day, dear readers, which means you’ve got until Sunday to get your cards and/or flowers and/or chocolates in order. Or... perhaps a nice DIY? Well guess what, I’ve got one for you today. Mark it down: this is the week that I managed just one on-topic post, but two! I’m just as surprised as you are! Don’t worry, soon enough I’ll go back to posting off-season recipes and completely forgetting minor holidays.

Granted, this particular project became a Mother’s Day gift to myself, because I am totally keeping it (sorry Moms). It’s super easy, super quick (just needs time for stuff to dry), and super duper cheap. And it all started when I discovered that you can get 8x8” prints at Walgreens nowadays:

I’ve become obsessed with ordering prints online and picking up in-store after we did that for Baby P’s passport photo. And I’m not always loyal to Walgreens (no sponsored posts from me!) – Target’s online photo ordering works for me too. No matter the service, they’re cheap and fast, which allowed me to try out those square prints just for funsies. They’re regularly $4, but I happened to purchase during that sale, so mine was two bucks and change.

I tinkered with one of the photos from our recent baby shower until I got a print that was totally wall-worthy:

Why get a square print if it’s still kinda hard to find square frames? Because square canvases are readily available, and super cheap! This canvas was originally $7, but I spent half that by purchasing during a sale at Jo-Ann.

You guys already know I’m a fan of mounting on canvas – I’ve done it with posters here and here. But this time I thought I’d try for actually making the photo look like canvas – and I had a brilliant idea for how to do it! A few minutes of googling later, though... I discovered I wasn’t the first to think of this trick. So here’s an excellent tutorial for DIY’ing a faux canvas print – or I’ll show you how I did it!

First, I painted the edges of my canvas black, since the photo was vignette’d and white edges would’ve looked funny. I used this black paint tester I bought over four years ago to touch up the chipped paint on our mailbox. It’s seen better days, but it worked.

I think black would work well for most photos, but can go with any color you think would be best!

Once the paint was dry (which took under an hour), I coated the surface of the canvas with matte-finish mod podge:

And carefully (carefully!) centered my photo on it.

This is where you’ll probably learn, as I did, that the canvas (or the photo) is not entirely square. I rotated the photo a few times to get the best “fit”, to avoid overhanging edges (you can trim them, of course, if you’re not lazy like me).

Okay! Now, you could stop here – if you’re into giving photos as presents, this will seem above and beyond for effort. But like I said, I wanted to make it look like canvas. And for that I needed.... another canvas.

Or rather, the back of a canvas. You’ll see why in a second.

Now here’s the scary part: you have to cover your new pretty photo with a thin layer of mod podge.

It’s daunting, yes, even though it’s not a huge investment. Still! Paint a layer of mod podge over your photo, taking care to keep it as thin as possible while still getting good coverage. This is close, though actually a little too thick:

Now, if you left it like that, you’d have dried brushstrokes on your photo. Instead, press this canvas onto another canvas to get the lovely textured look.

I used the back of a canvas because I didn’t want to get mod podge all over the front of another canvas – like my trellis or owl art!

If all goes well, you’ll have the canvas texture “stamped” right on to your photo! If you put too much mod podge on the photo, however, you get this:

Bubbles, all over poor Mr. P’s face! But no worries – if you work fast, you can run the foam brush over the mod-podged canvas again and re-press.

A few tries later and I had success!

It dried beautifully and really does, truly, look like a canvas print. Considering that the cheapest canvas prints I’ve seen elsewhere are $50 and up, this was a steal! And speaking of cost...

Time spent
I did this in an afternoon -- hands-on time was ten minutes here and there, the rest of the time was waiting for paint or mod podge to dry.

Canvas: $3.50 (50% off)
Photo: $2.40 (40% off)
Black paint, mod podge: already owned, maybe $10 at the store
Total cost: $5.90

Of course, if you’re giving one of these as a gift, maybe don’t advertise that you spent less than six bucks on the recipient. But if you’re making yourself a Mother’s Day present, this one is totally worth the low cost and low effort!

I’m holding on to this project because it’ll be perfect for my gallery wall – a project unto itself that I promise I’ll get to eventually. In the meantime, go make yourself some canvas art.... and with the tens to hundreds of dollars you saved in making your own, have some chocolates and flowers, too!


Janice said...

I've heard it was easy to make canvas prints but had no idea it was THAT easy! As for the cost of gifts for Moms, most moms are not concerned with the $, it's the thought that counts. I suspect your Moms would even be more happy knowing you made it :) Love the idea and am going to have to try it out myself this summer.

Andrea said...

Hey Sarah! This is so cool, I'm going to give it a try. Just curious what the dimension of your square was? That sounds funny when I type it, but basically how many inches is one side?


Sarah said...

@Andrea, both the print and the canvas were 8" squares! Of course you could do this with an 8x10" photo if you find an 8x10" canvas, etc. I just wanted a square shape to be a little different this time!

Andrea said...