Pennies for a Picture
Have you taken great photos, seen an incredible image in a magazine, or have a special newspaper article that you’d like to turn into a work of art to display in your home — but custom framing and canvas prints are just too expensive? You can decoupage them onto canvas for, literally, pennies a print!
For this particular project, I used three flat panels. They can be purchased at any craft store in various sizes and, often, in multi-packs that typically run anywhere from $6 to $10 a pkg of canvas prints.
I find it easier to block the border out by applying a liquid acrylic paint straight to the canvas. Then, take a brush and spread it out smooth and evenly.
2. Apply a painted border
You may need to apply more than one coat to ensure everything is thoroughly covered. I applied two thin coats to each of the three panels.
If the acrylic is not spreading smoothly enough, and you do not want a textured finish, thin the paint with water on your brush.
I did not crop the image I chose into three even thirds. The outer two panels are the outer two-thirds of the image, but the center panel is approximately two-thirds of the entire image from the center point.
The wider span gives it a better perspective from the focal point of the image. Because the outer-two images are separated from the center with a border, the eye does not perceive the difference between the canvas prints.
I printed on basic, white printer paper, just to demonstrate how easy it is to use ‘on hand’ materials.
Note: You can do the same technique with pictures from magazines or any free domain image you like off the internet.
You also do not have to create a split panorama, as I did, with multiple canvases. Rather, you could print a variety of different images that could be clustered together on a wall. Be creative with it!
You can also use a canvas in the exact same size as your image and decoupage the image without a border for a floating effect.
I chose a narrow white border on a black frame for a matte effect, but the possibilities are endless.
4. Glue it down
You can apply the mod podge directly to the canvas, but I chose to lay the image face down on another piece of paper and mod podge the image itself, to prevent the excess from running over onto the black ‘frame’.
Apply the mod podge evenly and sparingly! You want the image to stick securely, but not become saturated with the adhesive.
Be sure to smooth it out and cover the image completely. Any ‘dry’ spots will not stick and will create bubbles that will not settle with the overcoat.
Tip: Try not to let the mod podge get onto the ‘photo’ side of the image while you paint on the adhesive. Hold the image still and be careful not to shift it onto any adhesive that runs over onto the paper underneath. Those spots quickly become ‘tacky’ and will ruin the image.
Any brush will work for this. Sponge brushes are excellent for this kind of project and cost only .50 a piece or a few dollars for a pack at major craft stores.
I used a 1″ bristled paint brush for maximum coverage and so that I can wash it instead of disposing of it when I’m finished.
5. Let it dry, and do it again
It is important to let the images dry to the canvases completely before applying the top coat.
After it is dry to the touch, gently press out any bubbles in the image and be sure the edges are sealed tight.
I used a 3″ paint roller, for the top coat of mod podge. I did this for the rippled texture it creates. You can vary how the image looks by the technique used in the final application of mod podge.
The mod podge goes on white, but it dries clear. Although it dries clear, it leaves a texture that can make the creation unique — or ruin it entirely — so make sure to apply it as evenly as possible.
Be especially careful not to lift the sides of the image when you roll or brush the mod podge on. Also, try to use as few strokes as possible when applying the final coat so you do not lift any color from the image.
Note: Even if you removed all of the bubbles and applied the top coat carefully, the mod podge can create this rippled effect. Just leave the project very flat/horizontal to dry. The ripples should settle as the image dries, and if they are not all gone, you can gently press them out when the top coat is dry to the touch.
DO NOT try to press any imperfections out until it dries to the touch. You will leave fingerprints on the image or even risk tearing it. It is more fragile when the image is wet.
Once the mod podge is dry, it should be smooth and even.
I applied two coats, making sure to allow it to dry thoroughly between each coat.
You can use a hairdryer to speed up the process, just be sure to keep the dryer 8-10 inches from the image and use cool air.
6. Hang it up
There are many ways you can finish and display your canvas prints. You can hang them from a string or wire stapled securely to the back, or you can add a picture frame hook, which can be purchased very inexpensively from a craft or hardware store. You can even lean them on a shelf!
These flat canvases can also be framed in a traditional picture frame.
Try different sizes or shapes of canvas for an eclectic look. Cluster various pictures based on their color or choose a theme!
This particular finished product spanned approximately 3 feet, as each canvas was 11″x14″. You can create a masterpiece meant to fit in a tiny, barren nook of your house, or to break up a big, bold wall above a full-sized sofa. The only limits are the edges of your imagination!