Wednesday, December 4

Faux Photo Canvas Tutorial

Guys! It's December!! So we've been channeling all our extra time & energy into the Christmas time festivities, which is more fun than ever with a 2 1/2 year old. Seriously. The clumps of ornaments around the bottom of the tree, the plastic frogs invading Bethlehem, and the little handprint ornaments. We're loving it. But I wanted to pop in with this fun and easy project we tackled a couple weeks ago that would make a great gift! 

I always love the look of canvas prints and have been wanting to get some large prints of family photos... but even waiting for a sale that had canvases 80% off... yes. 80%... it was still going to cost $120 with shipping. Ohmygoodness. So we ditched the real deal and made up our own the cheapest way we could. Which for us meant spending $22 total on the three "canvases!"

You only need a few things to make your own faux canvases:
  • poster-size prints of the images (we ordered ours from during a 50% off sale and spent just $22 on one 20 x 30 and two 11 x 14 prints, and snapfish has been having 50% off sales almost constantly the last couple weeks!)
  • thin plywood (ours was about 1/4" thick left over from another project, so that part didn't cost us anything. You can get a sheet at Lowe's for around $15, I believe)
  • mod podge
  • duct tape

Start by cutting your plywood down to size (most hardware stores will make the cuts for you for free or very cheap). You want it to be smaller than the size of the picture because you'll be wrapping the picture around the sides of the plywood. We wanted 1/2" overhang on each side, so we cut our plywood to 19 x 29" and 10 x 13". (Keep in mind that this will affect how your picture looks! You'll be losing 1/2" on each side so if you have anything really close to the edges it will be cropped out. I actually would leave a little more overhang if we did it again so it's easier to wrap. Probably 3/4 - 1" of overhand on each side.)

Step two: Find a good and cutesy helper. Check.

Step three: Strip said helper down to his undies because it's about to get sticky around here! Apply mod podge all across one side of the plywood. This is great for kids to help with! I laid a garbage bag out to protect the countertop, then poured little puddles of mod podge and let him spread them around.

Lay the poster down on top of the plywood and center it on the board so the overhang is equal on each side.

I used a clean foam roller to smooth it out and get rid of any bubbles. (It's a good idea to stack some books on top of if when you're done to keep it flat)

Then I waited for that to dry....

Once it was dry I flipped the board over to work on the back edges.

The trickiest part here is getting the edges to stay in place while the mod podge dries, so I started by putting a line of tape down the side of the picture (sticky side up) to help hold it while the glue dried.

Then I added some mod podge along the edge.

Then wrapped the photo around as tight as I could and stuck the tape down.

I found that duct tape held much better than painters tape for this!

I tried to put the tape just along the very edge of the picture so it wouldn't show on the front (in case it left any sticky residue).

Before I did the next side I folded the corner in, just like wrapping a present.

And kept working my way around all the canvases. We actually ended up leaving the tape on to make sure the edges held... so maybe we didn't need the mod podge? I don't know. But so far the edges haven't budged. :)

That's it for making the canvases! Just wait for the glue to dry and they are ready to go. You can see in the one below that we had a little bubbling on the corner. We didn't put any books on this one to hold it flat and the corners curled up and didn't stick to the wood. In hind sight, I should have just re-glued it before I did the edges. Oops.

You can hang them by attaching picture hanging hardware on the back. Or if, like us, you just filled and painted over a bunch of holes and don't want to do it again, you can use these command adhesive strips. Granted it took us three tries to kind of jimmy-rig it up there (including a fall that smashed in one of the corners a little bit. *facepalm*) but now they're holding strong without a single hole! The problem was getting the strips to stick to plywood. In the end we used a staple gun to secure the strips to the wood. Now it's not going anywhere!

And we loooove them! Especially those two little cuties on the bottom.

And while it doesn't look exactly like a canvas, it's definitely a similar profile for small fraction of the cost.

And a big thanks to my sister for taking our family photos! She came up to visit after Baby Brother was born and snapped a few pictures in our backyard. Big Brother was being a bear and this was literally the only the picture he smiled in and it was just because "him touching my hand!" Yep, it's a keeper. And he's smiling in his solo shot because he was trying to hit aunt Beffy with that stick while she took the pictures. Sigh. Oh, and we had to stop twice to nurse Baby Brother who cried through the whole thing. You know she's a good photographer when she gets pictures like this out of that mess!

I've also seen similar tutorials where poster prints were mod podged right onto actual canvases for a nice deep profile. That probably looks even cooler... But canvases are pretty expensive compared to our free plywood. :)  Has anyone else tried anything similar? Or have another way to mimic the look of canvas?

Oh my word. I was just trying to figure out "did we do this before or after Baby Brother was born?" Yeah. He's in the pictures. I'm going to bed now. 

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