Monday, December 17, 2012

The Ever-Cool Gel Image Transfer Technique: A Tutorial.

Hi! I'm Jill from Entropic Grace, an artist in Cold Spring, NY. About a year ago, my husband Mike and I were taking a walk along the banks of the Hudson River in town when we spotted some absolutely stunning pieces of driftwood. Perfectly smoothed, they were just breathtaking. So we picked them up. Then we spotted more, and picked those up, too. And so on, and on...

Being artists, naturally we were thrilled with these found treasures, and we happily piled them into our car. Once at our house, the driftwood remained in our shed for, umm, a while, until my husband came up with the divinely-inspired idea of transferring images from old photographs onto some of the pieces using the tried and true method of Gel Medium transfer. We fell in love with the results, and so I have decided to share this time-honored method of image transfer in this tutorial. Enjoy.

Gather Your Materials. You will need some really cool pieces of wood and the means to cut it if necessary. Your supply list includes: laser prints of the images you want to transfer, sandpaper, brushes, an old rag or tee shirt, a tape measure, straight-edge, gel medium, Mod-Podge, white latex paint, scissors, and an old credit card. And some hot coffee and good music help, too.

Check out the instructions after the jump

 Arrange your laser printed copy of the photo or illustration you plan to use.
Here, I used an old cow print from a livestock catalog, which I found at an antiques store, and one of my own illustrations. But you can use anything: old family pictures or kids' drawings would be great.
Make sure to reverse the copy if you don't want it to transfer backwards. 

Position and arrange your prints as desired.
Measure, cut, and sand the wood.

Paint the wood. If you want a white-washed look, 
rub the paint out with an old rag, allowing the grain to show.

Brush the acrylic gel medium on your prints.
Place the coated print face down on the wood piece and position it as desired.
Use an old credit card to gently remove any trapped air.
Let the pieces dry for 24 hours. This will be the hardest part!

Wet a tea towel or other soft cloth and lay it over the wood piece to saturate the image with water.
Make sure your image is good and damp. Then, gently rub away the paper fibers.

Rub the fibers away, dipping your fingers into water as you go.
Be patient, and make sure all the fibers come away from the images.
   Coat the wood with Mod-Podge, and let it dry.

And finally, enjoy your new creations, or give them as handmade gifts. 


  1. Gorgeous! I did some Polaroid transfers onto clay years ago and always loved the look. Maybe it's time to try some new mediums for the background.

  2. Love this! I'm thinking of ways to incorporate this into my jewelry. Thanks Jill!

  3. Loved this - will play around with it one of these days, either by myself or with my grandson!