A spring-inspired photo transfer project {Tutorial}

With all of the furniture pieces I have in various stages or refinishing right now, it is nice to take a break from it all and do something crafty. Well, lately “crafty” means that it most likely has something to do with photo transfers.

You may already know that I am in love with doing photo transfers. Ha!  I have been at it for a few months now and it is one of those projects that I have yet to get bored of. For me, that is saying a lot as I am notorious for starting projects, losing interest, and then the project never gets finished. These projects get moved to the corner of my basement, only to be discovered months later. Can you relate to this in one way or another?

Anyway, I digress…

What’s not to like about photo transfers? They are so easy to do and they are a very inexpensive project. You can also create unique pieces of art for your home and gifts for your friends and family and they can be used in many ways (think transferring to canvas, wood, clay etc.).

I was inspired to make a spring project after I came across this gorgeous birds and nest image from The Graphics Fairy. Just visiting her blog gives me an overwhelming sense of excitement. She has so many wonderful images to choose from that it is really hard to decide which one to use next!


Would you like to create your own spring-inspired photo transfer and aged frame? It is such an easy and inexpensive project. It only cost me $1.00 for the canvas and $4.00 for the wooden frame. The rest of the supplies I already had on hand.

If I can make this, so can you!

Just follow my detailed instructions below, pick up a few supplies from the art store if you don’t already have them, and then you will be all ready to start creating!


 Supplies You’ll Need:

          • an 8″X10″ photo canvas
          • Golden Soft Gel Gloss Medium (Golden Soft Gel provides the clearest transfer, I have found)
          • acrylic gesso
          • Modge Podge matte
          • craft paints (I used Folk Art – 640 Warm White, 2561 Steel Gray & 462 Burnt Umber)
          • craft paint or latex paint for the picture frame (I used Martha Stewart’s Sharkey Gray paint)
          • plastic tablecloth or newspapers
          • a paint brayer or flat spreader
          • disposable paper plate
          • a ruler, pencil and scissors
          • paint brushes
          • a dish scrubber (see photo)
          • spray bottle and/or a cup with water
          • paper towels
          • 220 and 400 grit sandpaper
          • bird with nest engraving  image (see below)
          • my text template (see below)
          • optional: paper edging, fabric trim or other embellishments (I used Martha Stewart’s Regal Border Stickers)
          • wooden picture frame with a 8″X10″ opening

Step 1: Painting the Canvas


  1. Paint one coat of cream paint on your canvas
  2. Dip your paint brush in your water and then into the gray craft paint. Paint random brush strokes with the watered down paint. Complete one small section and then move on to the next step
  3. Scrunch up a piece of paper towel and then lightly dip it in your water cup. Go over the area your just painted and tamp up and down with your paper towel to create a textured design. Finish painting the rest of your canvas as above. Leave your canvas to dry for a few minutes
  4. Again watering down your paint, add the burnt umber paint to your canvas adding slightly more paint to the edge of the canvas to give it more of an aged look. Work on one section at a time so the paint doesn’t have a chance to dry streaky or too heavy
  5. Again, with a slightly damp paper towel, tamp the areas of your canvas that you just painted
  6. Leave your canvas to dry
  7. Add more watered down cream and gray paint randomly on your canvas. Use your paper towel to dab off the paint in spots to make your canvas appear aged. Leave some of the burnt umber around the edges of the canvas
  8. You may have some bits of the paper towel on the canvas when you are all done. You can leave them as they won’t show when you clear coat the canvas and they just add to the texture



Step 2: Transferring the Image to Canvas and Embellishing

  1. For this step you will need to read over my previous tutorial , How-to-Guide: Transfer Photos to Canvas here. Prepare your bird’s nest image and your text template (below) ahead of time and just follow the steps in my tutorial. If you get stuck or have any questions, please ask away! I am happy to help.
  2. Once you have your image transfer completed and you have removed all of the paper fibers you are ready to add your embellishments. I added Martha’s Stewart’s Regal Border Stickers to my canvas to add some interest. You could add scrapbooking borders, pieces of lace or ribbon. If you prefer you could just transfer the image and text and not add any embellishments. It is your piece of art!
  3. Once everything is dry, add two coats of Modge Podge to the entire canvas for protection. The Modge Podge will really make the image look crisp and clear when it is dry


 Where to Find the Images and Text:

Below is the text template that I made for this project. There are 5 different font styles to choose from. I used the very first one for my project and my phrase barely fit the canvas, so for your project you may want to choose one of the other styles if you prefer your text be a little smaller.

To save the template, click on the photo below and right click to save it. Then open it in your photo editing program and print it full size. It will fit a standard letter size page (8.5″ X11″). Make sure that you print the page as is so that your text comes out facing the right way when you do the transfer.


I included the gray border around the text only so that you would have a box to cut around. This makes it easy to place your text on your canvas and to center your words. You will want to cut off every tiny bit of border showing or it will be transferred to your canvas and you will be cursing in the end!

The bird’s nest image came from The Graphics Fairy’s blog here. Remember to print your image in mirror-image mode so that it comes out the right way once it is transferred.


And now onto the picture frame…




Step 3: Painting and Distressing Your Picture Frame

  1. Wash your wooden frame with a damp rag to remove dust and grime
  2. Sand it lightly with 200 grit sandpaper to remove any glossiness and rough spots. Remove dust with your damp cloth
  3. Mix up 3 parts latex paint to 1 part white acrylic gesso. Apply the mixture to you frame with in one even coat. This mixture dries very quickly and has a very chalky appearance
  4. Once dry, again sand your frame with 400 grit sandpaper and remove the dust with your damp cloth. Apply another coat of paint. Leave it to dry
  5. Using your 220 grit sandpaper, distress the edges of your frame so that the original finish shows through. Sand any areas that might get extra wear. Then use your 400 grit sandpaper to lightly go over the entire frame. This will give your frame a beautiful soft finish. Remove any dust with your damp rag
  6. Optional: Mix up burnt umber craft paint with a little bit of water to make an aging glaze. Apply the glaze to your frame in small sections, working the paint into the grooves. Using your damp rag, quickly remove the paint from the frame which will leave the darker paint in the grooves. Don’t leave the excess paint sit to long or your will have blotchy spots and trying to remove them may remove some of your paint layer exposing too much of the original finish
  7. Once your frame is dry, coat it with two coats of Modge Podge to seal it
  8. Place your finished canvas into the frame and enjoy!

Here are some “beauty shots” of my frame and photo transfer. I really love the way it turned out!



I found the phrase “Feather Your Nest” all over the Internet. I added to it by coming up with a phrase that had meaning to me. Taking time to feather your nest means a couple of things to me. For me, it can mean taking time to care for the people you love in your life, like your husband and children and the importance of nurturing your relationships with them. It can also mean taking the time to make your house a home. I may not have the most extravagant house, but all of the things I collect and create for my home make it a place where my family and I can feel relaxed and at home.




Here you can see that the burnt umber glaze that I used really helps to bring out the details in the frame.




This photo transfer turned out perfectly. Yeah! All of the image and text stayed intact and it really looks as if they were painted directly on the canvas. That is why I love the Golden Soft Gel Gloss that I use. It does the best job of transferring than I have ever seen and the image is so clear and vibrant. I have tried many other methods of photo transferring and this is by far the best method I have found.




You can see a close-up of the paper edging sticker of Martha Stewart’s that I used. I really loved the raised leaf design that it has.






If you have gotten this far (phew! long tutorial), thanks for taking the time to read my instructions. I tend to ramble on a lot. Sorry about that! I just want to make sure that I don’t leave out any important information when I am writing a tutorial.

I know that when I am reading someone’s tutorial that I hope that the writer has given me as much information as needed to make my project a success. It is really frustrating to start to make something and then realize that there are parts of the instructions missing. I hope what I have shared with you will help you to complete your project with ease. Once you start photo transferring you may become addicted like I am. They are so much fun to do!

Well, I am off to work on my next post so that I can share with you what I found at the Wild Rose Antique Show yesterday. Stop back again soon to see some of things were at the show and what I brought home!


I hope you and your family have a great Easter weekend.




My Favorite Products:

Acrylic Medium Golden Soft Gel Gloss 8oz

Sargent Art 22-8803 32-Ounce Extra Thick Gesso

Mod Podge CS11302 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish

3M Wetordry 9085NA Sandpaper, 9-Inch x 11-Inch, 5-Sheet,Super Fine 400-Grit

3M 10132NA Tack Cloth


  Images used in this how-to-guide are from The Graphics Fairy.



 Parties I’ve Linked Up To:

~ Days of Chalk and Chocolate – Latest and Greatest Party ~ Funky Junk Interiors – Sat Nite Special ~ Craft Envy – Saturday Spotlight ~ Tatertots and Jello – Weekend Wrap Up Party ~ Be Different Act Normal – Show and Tell Saturday ~ Craftionary – Friday Fun Party ~ French Country Cottage – Feathered Nest Friday ~ The Shabby Nest – Frugal Friday ~ My Romantic Home – Show and Tell Friday ~ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating – Flaunt it Friday ~ It’s a Hodge Podge Friday – It’s a Hodge Podge Life ~ Finding Fabulous ~ Frugalicious Friday ~ The Trendy Treehouse – Create and Share ~ Under the Table and Dreaming – The Sunday Showcase Party ~ Homemakers on a Dime – Creative Bloggers Party ~ Sumo’s Sweet Stuff – Market Yourself Mondays ~ DIY Showoff – DIY Project Parade ~ Embellishing Life Everyday – Link Up Party ~ Keeping it Simple – Motivate Me Monday ~ Vintage Mauve – Mauving it Up Monday ~ Its so Very Cheri – Its Party Time ~ C.R.A.F.T. – Making Monday Marvelous ~ I Heart Nap Time – Sundae Scoop Link Party ~ Craft-to-Maniac – Craft-to-Maniac Monday ~ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia – Tuesdays Treasures ~ Coastal Charm – Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays ~ Vintage Wanna Bee – Talent Tuesday ~ A Stroll Thru Life- Tabletop Tuesday ~ The Graphics Fairy – Brag Monday ~ Not Just a Housewife – Show Me What Ya Got ~ Home Stories A to Z – Tutorials and Tips Party ~ Domestically Speaking – 121st Power of the Paint Party ~ The Thrifty Home – Penny Pinching Party ~ The Trendy Treehouse – Create and Share ~ Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesdays ~ The Shady Porch – Rock N’ Share ~ Cedar Hill Ranch – Cowgirl Up Linky Party ~ Funky Junk Interiors – Sat Nite Special ~ Five Days…Five Ways – Feature Friday Free for All ~ Southern Hospitality – Thrifty Treasures ~ Pretty Handy Girl – DIY Talent Parade Link Party ~ Funky Junk Interiors – SNS 133 Link Party ~ The DIY Club – DIY Tutorial Linky Party ~

Tip Junkie handmade projects





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1 ping

  1. olga♥

    Hello Carrie, I found you at the link party hosted by Sumo´s Sweet Stuff and I must say that I love what you have done, and that the tutorial is really clear and so easy to follow, so.. thank you for sharing!
    P.D. My latest post involves a frame too, it´s a DIY using a cardboard box!
    I´m following you .XOXO Olga♥

    1. Carrie

      Olga, I am so happy to hear that you liked my tutorial. I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment. I will have to go over and check out you project as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Jessica@VintageMauve.com

    This is just absolutely beautiful! Thanks so much for posting this on Mauvin’ Monday!


  3. mary

    What a pretty picture you created! I have a ton of Graphic Fairy’s images saved but have yet to do a photo transfer- It is on my list of to do-

    bee blessed

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Mary. I have loads of Graphics Fairy’s images too. Once you start photo transfering you may end up loving it like I do. It is so much fun to do!

  4. Rosemary

    Beautiful job. I love the image, and the finish on the frame.

    1. Carrie

      Thanks a lot Rosemary for your kind comments.

  5. Lisa@budgetdesigngirl.blogspot.com

    Hi Carrie,

    I just found you via Savvy Southern Style. What a great project! Love your blog. I am your newest linky follower!

  6. Rupa

    What a great project! Your tutorial is fantastic. I am amazed by people’s generosity to so kindly share all the steps in a project just like you have. Thanks so much for the inspiration and I hope to recreate this kind of art soon. Came here via GF and will visit you often from now on!

    1. Carrie

      Thank you so much Rupa. I am happy that you enjoyed my tutorial; I love to inspire others to create. I look forward to chatting with you again sometime.

  7. Hani

    Wow.. I love the technique.. Can’t wait to try it out.. Thanks for linking up at friday fun party!

  8. Jenny

    This is s pretty! It would make a beautiful Mother’s Day gift!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks for commenting! I think you have a wonderful idea there!

  9. Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl

    Carrie, this is such a sweet piece of artwork! I really like the embellishments you put on it. Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial and for linking up to The DIY Talent Parade ;-)

    1. Carrie

      Thanks so much Brittany for taking the time out of your busy day to stop by! I really appreciate your comments!

  10. Jazmin

    What a wonderful project ideas. I’m working with my 12 year old daughter and this looks like a great place to start. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Jazmin (great name BTW!). I hope that you and your daughter really enjoy making this project together. It was a lot of fun to make. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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