A DIY Experiment: DIY Photo To Canvas for Mother's Day!

DIY photo canvases have been on my radar as a cool craft to try for several years now.  I just got married, and our wedding pictures are still very new to us.  I knew my mom and dad would love a special picture of me with each of them, and I wanted to make them extra special.  I also knew I couldn't afford to purchase a pre-made canvas, so I thought I would try the decoupage technique.  

There are MANY tutorials out there.  I kind of combined two that were top hits in Google (here and here).  I have included some tips and tricks that will hopefully help you to have an easier time than I did!  



  • 8" X 10" canvas(es) (I bought a 10 pack, so they came out to $2.00/canvas) 
  • Picture printed on a laserjet printer on an 8.5" X 11" paper scaled to "Fit Entire Paper" in Printer Settings
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Sponge Applicator Brush
  • Mod Podge (I used the Satin verson)
  • Membership card (pictured below)

A note about the materials: I've read that you can use a gel medium such as one by the brand Golden.  I have not used this product before, but if you have it laying around, I'm sure it would work for this project as well!  I would do a little research before trying it, though.  Additionally, I've read that you must use a thick printer paper or the transfer will not happen.  There are also some more "professional-looking" tutorials out there that do NOT transfer the photo to the canvas but just Mod Podge the back of the picture to the canvas.  This technique would probably result in a cleaner look with less of a vintage feel and more of a modern feel.  

I started by tracing the canvas onto the printed picture to ensure that the picture would be the same size as the canvas.  Then I cut the picture out.  

I Mod Podged the front of the picture heavily.  Make it so heavy that you can barely make out the picture underneath.  

I would recommend Mod Podging the canvas also.  I think that this would reduce the amount of bubbles between the canvas and the picture.  

Carefully place the Mod Podged picture on top of the canvas face down (printed part placed against canvas).  Be extra careful!  I ripped my first copy.  Make sure to line up the edges as best you can!  I used a membership card to smooth out any bubbles present between the picture and the canvas.  Don't overdo it as the Mod Podge dries relatively quickly.  Allow the craft to dry for a full 24 hours.  Do NOT mess with it AT ALL before the 24 hour mark.

The second part of this project requires a few more items not mentioned above (sorry about that):

  • Cup of water
  • A new sponge applicator
  • Canvas from the first part of the project
  • Membership card

Wet the sponge applicator and squeeze out excess water.  Dab canvas across entire picture.  If you do happen to keep too much water on the sponge and then on the canvas, just wait a little while for the canvas to dry a little.  

Once the entire canvas is dampened, start by peeling at the paper along the edges.  Work hard to ensure that you don't peel off the picture.  

I used the membership card to scrape off some of the paper.  Don't scrape too hard or pieces of the picture will come off.  The membership card is especially helpful for the edges.  The scraping also gives the picture a more antiqued look!  

If the paper is too wet, it could be very hard to scrape off the pieces of paper as the "pulp" tends to rub back into the picture.  I would try to scrape when the bits of paper coming off are little oblong tubes, kind of like in the picture above.    

Then, I spent a good amount of time rubbing the picture with my finger while the paper and canvas were still damp.  This worked even better for removing the thin layer of paper still attached after scraping with a membership card because the fingertips have a little bit of texture.  It's kind of like a super-fine grit sandpaper!  All of the scraping and rubbing takes some time, so be patient!  I took some breaks in between and then continued when I felt more refreshed.     

Can you see the areas where the picture was scraped off along the edges?  I love the antiqued look!  AND, can you see the difference between the rubbed portion of the picture and the paper-lined portion?

Can you see the areas where the picture was scraped off along the edges?  I love the antiqued look!  AND, can you see the difference between the rubbed portion of the picture and the paper-lined portion?

Once you remove as much of the paper as you can, paint a good coat of Mod Podge onto the picture.  Make sure to get the edges as well!  I did two coats-one horizontal and one vertical.

I did scrape off some small pieces of the picture.  I was kind of bummed about it at first, but then I realized it made the picture look more vintage.  Then, I couldn't help but feel proud of the work that I did.  They are not supposed to look perfect!  

My parents absolutely adored these creations!  It is such a special Mother's Day gift that I know that your families will cherish for years to come.

Thanks for crafting with me!