Creating these wooden photo pendants uses a simple image transfer technique. By using packing tape and magazine photos, you can add photos to nearly any surface. Here these pendants are made of light weight balsa wood, but consider using other light colored woods, tiles, or transparent surfaces.
What you’ll need:
- Magazine photos
- Clear packing tape
- Balsa wood
- Screw eyes
- Craft knife
- Foam brush
- Mod Podge
- Water in a cup
Packing Tape Photo Transfers
Photo transfers are one of my favorite techniques. So, when I found out that I could do them quickly with packing tape instead of waiting overnight with gel medium, my mind was blown.
Start by finding some great photos from magazines or catalogs. I like landscapes, unique patterns, or anything with a pop of color or good contrast. In this tutorial, the pendants are 1″ square, so images with clear small details work well.
Take a piece of clear packing tape in the length you need and tape it over the part of the image that you want to transfer. Burnish it with a bone folder or the edge of a credit card to push out any bubbles and fully adhere the tape to the image. Trim the excess paper from around the tape. You will have strips of magazine photos covered in tape.
Soak the strips of tape in a cup of water until the paper on the back is saturated. This only takes a minute or two as the magazine paper is thin. Remove a strip and rub the damp paper until it rolls and peels off of the tape. The image will remain on the tape after the paper is gone. I usually give the tape another short soak and a rub to ensure I get all of the paper particles off. Then dry off the tape with a paper towel.
You may find that there is still some adhesion left on the tape. Usually, the more white space you have in your image, the more adhesion will be left after the photo transfer process, since there is no ink sticking to the adhesive on the tape. Additionally, the white sections of the photos will end up being clear on the transfer. This allows for the grain of the wood to show through more, creating a cool effect.
Adding Photos to Wood
Depending on the size of your balsa wood, you may need to trim it down. I had a pack of wood with various sizes, I think I used a couple 3″x5″x1/4″ pieces, and trimmed them down to 1″ wide. Having strips of balsa works well, since your photos are now in strip form from the tape.
To trim your balsa, hold a ruler to mark your trim line and drag a craft knife through the wood. It may take several strokes for the wood to separate, but since balsa is a super soft wood, it should come apart with little effort.
On the top of each strip of wood, add a thin layer of Mod Podge. A very thin layer is all you need, too much will just cause a mess. Over the Mod Podge, position your photo tape and press into place. Burnish with a bone folder, and smooth out the tape over the wood. If you have a lot of extra Mod Podge, it will seep out of the sides. This is fine, but if it sneaks onto the top of your tape, wipe it off with a damp towel before it dries.
Flip over the wood strips and trim the excess photo tape from around the edges. You now have wooden strips with your photos. Following the same process for cutting the balsa, trim the strips into 1″ squares.
Turn these tiny pictures into pendants by adding a screw eye to the top edge. The wood is soft, so you can simple press it in and screw it in place by hand.
These pendants can be charms on a necklace or bracelet, or they could serve as miniature wall hangings. Or you can apply the same photo transfer process to make sun catchers onto a transparent surface, or as decoration onto a glass votive.
What project ideas would you use packing tape photo transfers for?