Out of the Box: Birthday Gift

My sister’s boyfriend, Joseph, celebrated his birthday yesterday. He gave me a wonderful gift for mine in February so the challenge was on to get him a great present. My husband and I are working on a tighter budget these days due to the sequester so I had to get creative!

I had some pieces of wood lying around from a volunteer, deck-building project my mom worked on. Transferring images to wood seems to be pretty popular around Pinterest so I decided to give it a go! What I found was that trial and error can still produce a pretty awesome piece of art! Here are the steps I took.

woodstep1WM  woodstep2WM

I found the metal plate connectors at Home Depot for .89 cents a piece! All you do is line them up over the seam and screw into the holes. Easy peasy!


Next, I painted the wood with two coats of a neutral, homemade chalk paint and let it dry. After it dried, I nailed in a picture hanger on the back.


I went with this image because it’s one of Heather’s favorites. I simply saved it from her Facebook page. Sneaky! She had already Instagrammed it so it was good to go! A trip over to Office Depot was in order. You can have them print out an image onto paper using a laser printer for less than $1. Make sure when you have them print it that you ask for the image to be reversed so when you glue it face down, it looks like the original in the end. I chose a 10×10 dimension because it fit my board properly.

Here’s where I went a little rouge! I originally was going to follow this tutorial on how to transfer an image. However, when I got to Michael’s Craft Store and saw how expensive gel medium was, I thought I’d try an alternative. As far as I could tell and the employees at the store could tell me, Gesso would work too. It’s a transparent medium that helps create “tooth” to raw wood and other surfaces.


So. I tried it…


Let this sit over night after getting all the bubbles out.


In theory, the paper should rub off leaving just the image behind using a wet rag or sponge. At first, I thought it was successful. But as I went on, parts of Joseph’s face were beginning to disappear! I couldn’t very well give him his birthday present with half of his face missing! Plan B, complements of my smart husband! He suggested that we take the non-reversed image we also had printed, cut out their profiles and adhere that image over the other. Genius! The background of the picture that I rubbed off with water actually looked really cool.


So I Mod Podged the regular image over the existing one. The result was sort of a 3-D effect that I loved! Here are some close-ups of how the background turned out.

HJwoodWM   HJwood2WM  HJwood1WM

Cool background and Joseph gets to keep his face. Everybody wins.


After seeing how much negative space there was at the top and bottom, I wanted to fill it with something. I came up with the idea of making their initials out of burlap.


Hmm. Something about it felt too contrived and juvenile to me. Trial and error indeed. Since I hot glued them on, it wasn’t a big deal to peel them off. I wanted something a little softer and more natural. Here is what I ended up with!


Using Annie Sloan Dark Wax and a sponge brush, I free handed their initials and wiped off the excess.

Even though there was quite a bit of going back to the drawing board, I still had fun making it! Joseph loved it and it will go in their new apartment at the end of the summer. In the future, I will just invest in the gel medium and try again!

You must feel like you know Joseph and Heather pretty well by now! Surely you could pick them out of a crowd.

Have a wonderfully, springy weekend!


4 thoughts on “Out of the Box: Birthday Gift

  1. Love it and even better than Joseph gets to keep his face! And I agree, I’m glad you took the burlap letters off and went with the wax instead. It doesn’t look like you’re trying to fill a hole. I had that problem last week on a project I worked on. Nothing like crafting your way out of a tough spot!

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