Photo to Wood Transfer

The Challenge

To transfer images of maps to wood as a Father’s Day present for my Dad.

My Inspiration

I’ve seen map crafts all over Pinterest and I wanted to try to take a uniquely different approach. I wanted to use maps of locations that are significant for my Dad and I wanted the maps to be colorized so that they look more interesting than just you’re plain old red, white, blue, black and tan maps. I also wanted to somehow adhere the maps to individual thin wood blocks so that he could arrange the maps however he’d like.

After doing a little research, I found that transferring photos of the maps onto wood using Mod Podge Transfer Medium was the best way to do it.

The Podcast

According to their website, The Bible Project is a non-profit that “creates videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design”. Their podcast dives deep into the biblical theme that they’re currently working on and is a great supplement to their other content. Jon and Tim (the creators of the Bible Project) are just two dudes having an approachable, humble, intelligent conversation about an interesting biblical concept or a particular book of the Bible. I can’t recommend it enough. They have helped me see the Bible in a completely different way and revitalized my love for Scripture.  Impactful series for me have been: The Kingdom, Wisdom Literature, Image of God, & the Holy Spirit.

What I Need

  • Laser Jet printed images & scissors to cut them
  • Wood
  • Table Saw
  • Mod Podge Transfer Medium
  • Foam brush
  • An old credit card
  • Razor blade
  • Rag + Water

Who is Helping Me

My sister and I made this together. I started it and then we finished it together.

Who is NOT Helping Me

Myself. It’s like I forgot I have a blog where I document how I do things.  I have now done 3 different blog projects and neglected to take enough pictures to properly document what I’ve done. I’d like to think it’s because I’m just “living in the moment”, but I think I subconsciously know that every picture I take is a picture I’ll have to post-process and I’m getting lazy.

How I Did It

  1. I found a cool website called “Snazzy Maps” that allows you to alter a Google maps image with whatever color scheme you like. I picked 8 locations that are significant to my Dad and messed around with various color schemes.
  2. I saved the images to my hardddive and then mirrored the image in Photoshop and had them printed with a laser jet printer. According to every how-to that I read, your image must be printed on laser jet. Ink jet just won’t do.
  3. I purchased a piece of thin, high quality wood, the Mod Podge photo transfer medium and matte craft sealing spray.
  4. I cut my wood with a table saw to make 8 identical rectangular pieces that would fit my images.
  5. I globbed the transfer medium onto the colored side of the image with a brush and then carefully placed the image onto the surface of the wood.
  6. I used an old credit card to push out any bubbles or wrinkles and repeated the globbing and applying steps for all 8 images. I use the word “glob” because I was not very careful and I certainly didn’t hold back with the amount of transfer medium I used. Also, I did not bother to apply the medium on a special mat to keep from making a mess. This was dumb. Very dumb. See below.

  7. I waited no less than 24 hours for the images to dry. Even though I was super anxious they wouldn’t turn out and I wanted to start the removal process, I waited! In the meantime, I cleaned my counter 3 times to fully remove all the transfer medium residue. Again… this was dumb of me.
  8. I packed up all my supplies and headed to my sister’s house. We both grabbed rags and bowls of water and started removing the paper layer. We did this by wetting the paper with a rag and gently wiping away the paper layer to expose the image that had been transferred to the wood.  This was also a very messy and somewhat tedious process. uncovering.jpg
  9. After the initial paper layer was removed, we had to keep wiping the surface of the image because as it would dry, it seemed like more transfer medium would show up and need to be removed.
  10. Since my image was a little bigger than the wood block, we had to trim the excess with a razor blade.
  11. The next day my sister sprayed each image with the matte sealing spray and let them dry.
  12. We gave the maps to my Dad for Father’s Day with a lot of “You don’t have to hang these up”  “it kinda came out different than expected” “It’s okay if you don’t like it..” kind of comments. I get very insecure when I give my crafts as gifts. I’m okay with hanging up my own crappy projects, but when I essentially force someone else to hang them up, I get a little self-conscious. He seemed to like them alright.Finished.jpg

We’ve been debating putting pins in the precise location that the image portrays (ie: where the house is..)

Final Thoughts/Would I Do it Again?

I’m definitely excited to try to use the transfer medium on other surfaces with other images. The maps came out okay. I think I would have chosen different color schemes that went together a little bit better. The process was actually a lot easier than I thought, but it’s certainly not a quick craft. With the 24 hour initial drying time, the sealant spray dry time and the long process of removing the paper and transfer medium residue, you really need several days to get this project done. I have no idea what my dad will do with this craft. If someone gave it to me, I’d have no idea what to do with it either. I wish I had a jigsaw to make the maps into cool shapes other than a rectangle, but we all know thats a bit above my skill level.


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