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It’s a Sign! Take 2 – A More Detailed Tutorial

Image Transfer TutorialI feel that I owe you an apology.

I was so happy with that Santa Monica Beach Sign that I rushed a bit getting the post up and created, I think, a pretty un-useful “tutorial.

So please allow me to revisit it with a slightly more detailed approach.

This will also give me a chance to provide a more in-depth explanation of the Lenk tool and how (and why) I use it.

Warning: This is gonna be a pretty lengthy and detailed post/tutorial so if you never plan to do a transfer using a Lenk tool you might want to sit this one out.

Here is what I used for this project:

Lumber:

  • 1/2 Inch Plywood measuring 18×18 inches for the backer
  • Five (5) strips of MDF wood 18″ x 2.75″
  • 1/2 inch plywood 18″ x 4″ for the shelf

Paint:

  • White, flat-finish, latex paint
  • Blue, flat-finish, latex paint
  • White spray paint
  • wood stain
  • Spray-on Polycrylic

Tools and Sundries:

  • wax (just an old candle)
  • Lenk tool
  • 3 coat hooks
  • wood glue
  • wood screws
  • sandpaper/sander
  • jig-saw (for rounding the corners of the shelf)
  • hangers

Painting and Aging (the title of my yet-to-be-released, scandalous autobiography)How to Distress Wood

To age the scrap MDF here is what I did:

1) stained the edges with gel stain.

2) After the stain dried I rubbed a chunk of wax along the edges

3) painted the slat with flat, white latex paint  and let it dry.

4) went back in and sanded the edges.  The paint won’t stick to the wax so you end up with a nice, distressed, edge.

I repeated this process with the remaining strips painting them alternating blue and white.distressed wood techniqueFor the plywood shelf I used a jigsaw to round off the corners, sanded the whole thing and used the same wax/paint/sand process on the edges for an authentic, worn look.

I also painted the backer board blue and sanded it’s edges.

When everything was dry I glued all the strips into place (I didn’t attach the shelf till the very, very end).

Wall Lenk Tool Process:Lenk Craft ToolOK, as you know, I’m loving the Wall Lenk Tool.  But it does come with pros and cons

Pros:

  • I think it produces results very much on par with the various transfer mediums I’ve tried.
  • It’s quicker (you don’t have to let it dry overnight or anything).
  • It gives a very authentic “aged” appearance.
  • Because only the graphic is transferred you don’t have to cut out the image right along it’s edges nor do you end up with any lingering edges or visible outlines where the paper ended.
  • It’s pretty inexpensive (I got mine from Amazon) and, of course, if you do a lot of transferring, you’ll only have to buy it once.

Cons:

  • It takes some trial and error to get the hang of it.
  • The results are a bit unpredictable but really no more so than using any other method (and I’ve found that it’s easy, as I did on this sign, to go back in and re-transfer if needed).
  • It has no heat-control mechanism so I will inevitably set something on fire one of these days.

Tips:

I’ve found it’s very important, if you your using the Lenk with a painted surface,  to let the paint cure as much as possible.  If I can, I let it dry for 48 hours – even longer is better (although for this project I think I over-did it waiting 6 months).

Flat paint works better than satin or semi-gloss and if I want a shiny finished product then I just use a glossy sealer at the end.

I also like to give the painted surface a light sanding with a 220 grit sandpaper before I begin.

OK, the Actual Image Transfer Process

(I’m mixing and matching new and old photos here so don’t be thrown by the lettering changing colors)

For this sign I gathered my graphics (the woman is just an image isolated from an old matchbook) and printed them, in reverse using plain, legal size copy paper on my laser printer (I don’t know if ink jet prints will work) Reversed Graphics

I let the tool heat up for 8 minutes as the manufacturer instructs.

It actually gets a bit too hot initially and if pressed into the paper right then it will just burn it.Wall Lenk Tool TutorialSo, I  “burn off” some of the heat by pressing it to a wood block.  There is no set time or amount of heat or any way to check the temperature so I just do it until the wood quits smoking.

I then rub the lenk over the graphic.  Image Transfer TutorialAgain there is no “set” amount of time for this.  The more you rub the more image will transfer so it depends on how “aged” you want it to look. I went over this line of text for about 4 minutes and then paused to let the Lenk heat up again a bit (it loses heat as you go) and then rubbed for another 4 minutes.

I just go back and forth sort of slowly, keeping the tool in motion.  If you stay in one spot too long you risk either burning the paper or getting paint so heated up that it bubbles and melts (not good).

This is the real “learning-curve” part.  There is no way to tell how well the transfer has worked at this stage.  I’ve taken to peeling away just a little bit of the corner of the paper just to get a sense of how it’s going and to determine if I should go over it a few more times or not.

Once I’m satisfied I let the paper cool thoroughly and then go back in with a fairly damp cloth and rub away.Image Transfer using Wall Lenk ToolThe paper comes off fairly easily under light-to-moderate rubbing.

I find that I have to do this process a few times.  I’ll do it once, it will look awesome but then it dries and there is a light, white, film of left-over paper visible, so I just go back in with the damp cloth and give it another round.

I’ve also found that it’s pretty easy, if I decide the transfer wasn’t good enough, to go back in and do it again.  I wasn’t thrilled with my first go on this sign so I just reprinted and tried again.  Here is the “A” in Santa Monica image transfer technique(I’ve got to be honest, I’m a bit stunned that it’s possible to successfully line the images to re-do them but I’ve done it with graphics large and small and had no problem.)

Once I’m satisfied with the results I seal it with a spray on polycrylic

Finishing Steps:

After marking where the shelf was to go I drilled pilot holes and then glued the shelf in place and screwed it in from the back.Attach Shelf

I had spray painted the coat hangers and screwed them into place as well and added hangers to the back of the board.DIY Vintage Beach Sign

I hope this helps with any questions about the tool or how to use it.  But feel free to fire away if I’ve left out some step or been vague about some process.

Happy image-transferring!

It’s a Sign! It’s A DIY, Vintage, Beach Sign

Image tranfer vintage sign tutorial

UPDATE:  I’ve done a slighly more detailed tutorial on how I created this sign.  You can find it here

 

I learned something new!  Or, rather, I tried a different way to do something and it worked better!

OK, the backstory.

I’m not particularly good at planning.  I tend to get excited about an idea, launch into it with a  sorta half-formed concept in my head and then hope inspiration strikes.

It usually does……eventually……..

So, for instance, I wanted to find a use for the MDF scraps that result from coaster making and I wanted to see if I could make them look authentically aged and distressed.

So I stained their edges, did my wax-and-paint trick and nailed them to a piece of scrap plywood.distressed wood techniqueCool! It looked exactly like what I had in mind.

And?

And…..that was it.

It seemed beachy.  I knew I wanted text or an image or something but couldn’t figure out what that would be.

So it sat there all stripey and distressed for, oh, about 6 months.

And then, just the other day, while in the midst of doing something else entirely I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I grabbed a graphic I like, wrote out some text and got to work with my Lenk tool (go here for a full Lenk tutorial – but then come back cause there’s an update).DIY vintage sign tutorialMy usual method for using the Lenk is to rub back and forth slowly,Lenk Tool for Image Tranfer on Wood Projects then gently peel back the paper to check my progress and then, if needed, rub a little more.Image transfer onto woodIt works well, and, although I liked the distress, I just wasn’t getting the depth of color I wanted and I was spending a LOOOONG time on each element.

But sometimes the paper doesn’t peel away and you have to rub it off with a damp cloth,image transfer using Lenk tooland I found that if, instead of lifting the paper up to check, I just let it sit there till it cooled and then, using the damp cloth method rubbed it away – I got much richer colors along with the distress.

So here is how the sign looked on the first round:DIY Vintage Sign Tutorial by Cheltenham RoadAnd here it is after I went back in and used the “leave the paper there and then rub it off” technique:Vintage Sign Tutorial by Cheltenham RoadBingo!

There is still plenty of distress but the colors are much more vibrant.

I did find I had to go back in a couple of times with the damp cloth and gently rub away a film of white, leftover paper.

When I was happy with the look I sealed it with some spray on polycrylic.

After that I added a shelf (just a piece of plywood glued on and screwed in from the back) and some hangers and had myself a fun little vintage beach sign coat hangerDIY Vintage Sign by Cheltenham RoadI’m excited about this improved technique.  It’s pretty fast, the colors are rich and the distress is exactly what I likemake a vintage sign tutorial by Cheltenham Road and the sky is the limit as far as what design to use.

Trays.  Coat Hangers.  Signs.  Pretty much anything!DIY Vintage Beach SignOK, now I have to get back to what I was actually doing before I suddenly knew what I wanted to do.

Post-Jackalope and a Mini Tray Makeover Tutorial

The Jackalope show was awesome!   Beautiful weather, great crowds and lots of sales – you couldn’t ask for better.  And thank you all for your good wishes and positive thoughts – they totally paid off.

Jenni requested a closer look at the ashtrays (seriously people?!) terra-cotta coasters I had in the booth.  I snapped a quick  pic Sunday morning and I was glad I did because by Sunday evening they were gone.Ceramic Coasters by Cheltenham RoadI’m really digging these.  They open up a whole new world of possibilities.  For this round I supplemented the soda pop ones I shared previously some of my much loved vintage dairy labels and, going for the man-cave crowd, vintage oil can graphics (question: can man caves have coasters?  Seems kind of antithetical).

In my crazy lead-up-to-Jackalope week I also had a major thrift store score.  Rummaging around I found, in their manufacturer’s package, these nesting traysDIY Wood Tray Makeover by Cheltenham RoadThe cost?  $4.50!

I had been toying around with a tray idea for a few weeks and this seemed perfect.  I had planned to do a full-on tutorial but, um, I sold it before I could get the beauty shot.  So, herewith is a mini version.

I first, sanded, primed and painted one of the smaller trays.

I cut some thin wood (pressboard really) down into slats that were wide enough to fill the bottom of the tray but just leave little space between each strip.  I also printed out an enlarged version of one of my favorite vintage Los Angeles postcards and cut it into strips.wooden tray tutorial by Cheltenham RoadI attached the graphics to the pressboard using mod podge and painted the bottom of the tray black.thrift store tray makeoverAfter gluing the strips in place and sealing them with another coat of Mod Podge I poured in a good layer of Envirotex Lite.Thirft store tray makeover by Cheltenham RoadI used a couple of the other trays in the group as well – using my other vintage postcard collage but I have a couple left and I think I want to make more like this.

Also, during my crazy week, I finished up my latest Mod Podge Rocks project.  It’s a very easy to make coat rack that uses plaques from Michaels, Mod Podge Transfer Medium  and some of my favorite vintage luggage tag graphics.Easy Coat Rack Tutorial by Cheltenham Road(side note: if you want to see a super cool, totally charming coat rack visit my friend Julie’s blog Follow Your Heart Woodworking and check out her latest work.  I think they are awesome!)

In slightly more unsettling news….whatever critter that had died in the Blair Witch room is, um, gone.  On Monday when I steeled myself to open the garage door there was nothing, no smell, nuthin’.  I feel like I’m in a Hitchcock film.  “I SWEAR the body was here a second ago!” * I’ve now pulled everything out and haven’t found a thing.  And while I guess that’s good it’s also a bit creepy.

So, Jackalope went well!  Dead Animal Disappeared!  Garage is now clean and organized (almost)!  What is there to complain about?  Well, I’m afraid I have to reset the board:0 DAYS

stupid, low, door frame……

 

*does this scenario make me Cary Grant?! I’m totally down with that then!

 

My Own Hollywood Backlot in the Backyard

I’ve been ramping up the factory this past week getting prepped for two, big, new shows.

First up is Rendezvous MarketRendezvous Market Santa Monica

This is a new one (for me and them – first time!) and I’m looking forward to it.

After that comes the Jakalope Festival in lovely Pasadena.3f6dde38-e134-4175-903d-746c5a8520f8

I’ve heard great things about this show and Pasadena is one of my favorite places.

So, of course, this means that my life of late (and going forward) is all about building up inventory so there are….

coasters  coasters everywhereCoasters Coasters Everywhere

Not my favorite look for the dining room but such is life.

In the meantime (because endlessly detailing the fact that I’m making coasters somehow does not make for compelling blog reading) I wanted to share photo set-up that I put together.

So photography is…not my favorite aspect of all of this.  I’m just not very good at it.

I bought a fancy new camera a while ago and a tome of an instruction book that just sits here on my desk….mocking me.

I mean, I’m improving but it’s all a bit beyond me – so many buttons!!!! So many math-like things to adjust!  So many considerations about where the sun is at that particular moment.

Anyway, I was trying to get a picture of that little chair I did for my last Mod Podge Rocks projectIkea chair makeover by Cheltenham Road but I was having a terrible time.

I couldn’t find a good spot in the house, I couldn’t get a good angle on it.  But I was so pleased with the project and I wanted a good shot.

I decided to go outside but then all I got were horrible shadows and more frustration until I noticed a spot up against the back of the house  that was shaded and I had

AN IDEA!

I wanted to make the chair look like it was sitting in a room so I grabbed one of my work tables, some old boards I had that were painted white and a chunk of beadboard leftover from a show display.

I pushed the table up against the back of my house to hold up the beadboard and just laid the wood pieces down like a floor.

And then got fancy adding another piece of wood as a “baseboard” and clamped another across the top as a “chair rail”.

Easy Photo Shoot set up

Once you crop it down to “edit” out the edges it looks sorta like an actual room.Easy chair makeover idea by Cheltenham Road

It’s a bit bright and still a little flat but so much better than what I was getting and so easy to set up.

I even could swap out the back wall by just using any other random piece of board that was large enough

How about white!DSC_4526

Perhaps blue!Decoupage Kids Chair with bok covers by Cheltenham RoadI settled on green.  I always choose green (Kermit is my spirit animal).

I’m so happy because this could be just the ticket for solving a lot of my photo-taking-problems going forward (there is kind of a list).

I just need to create some fake-but-interesting walls to hang HOME signs and Subway signs on!

It’s like my own little Hollywood backlot!

OK, gotta go make more coasters.

And HOME signs

And Magnets

And Knobs

And Candle Blocks

And Subway Signs

And Patent Signs

And coasters

Or perhaps a nap……..

Life is all about options.

 

 

Easy to Make Soda Pop Coasters with Plant Saucers

Easy DIY Coaster IdeaAs you’ve witnessed I’ve been having a good time for the last few weeks playing around with new ideas.

My goal, of course, is to come up with new products. And, hopefully, new products that don’t require me to fabricate

Every. Single. Part

Don’t get me wrong – power tools are awesome. I truly enjoy wood working, sanding and painting but sometimes a guy wants to do something a bit less…..involved.

Also, I’ve been wanting to make round coasters.

Actually, when I first started out I made round ones

The sold well but they were tough to make and wasted a fair amount of wood.Vintage Dairy Label CoastersBut I think I’ve found a work around that has possibilities

So, after last week’s earth shattering reveal that my super clever super secret tool was water this week I ask you to bear with me as I proffer the amazing idea to use terra cotta plant saucers as coaster bases.

I KNOW!!!!!

Pick your jaw up off the floor people ’cause it’s just gonna get crazier from here as I use Mod Podge and Envirotex!!!!!

(remember my goal is to come up with new ideas but not reinvent the wheel)

OK, so I’m not the first person to come up with this (and I haven’t Googled it for fear of confronting my lack of uniqueness) but it turned out to be fun, insanely easy and, I think filled with possibilities.

I grabbed some saucers from Micheals and some gloss white spray paint.Easy DIY Coasters Tutorial(Note: I first did this with bases from Lowes but apparently those are much more porous. They sucked up paint like a vacuum. The ones from Michaels worked beautifully and cost the same).

After a good coating with the paint and some drying time I moved onto the graphics.

I figured everyone here is probably crazy super tired of me and dairy labels (I could hear you all muttering “yes, David, we get it. They’re cool. Buy a cow and move on with your life”) so I thought I’d go with something similar but different (it’s a theme!!)

I had purchased soda pop bottle top graphics from Digital Alice on Etsy a while ago (to use on the knob project) and thought they’d be fun as coasters.

After resizing the graphics I mod Podged them into place and when they were dry sealed them with another good coat of Mod Podge.Easy to make coasters by Cheltenham RoadOnce dry I added some Envirotex and I had myself some fun, round coasters!Soda Pop Label Coasters by Cheltenham RoadI’m thinking I could use these graphics or make up a few of my own.Simple DIY drink coasters

I was also contemplating ones that look like old postage marks.

Record labels would also work!

And, of course, they don’t have to be coasters. Maybe little dishes for keys and such.

Or since these come in all sizes maybe big dishes?

Lots of possibilities I think.  And I didn’t have to sand anything!

My Secret for Easy, Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

Easy Wrinkle Free Mod PodgeI am not one to pronounce that I have the BEST way of doing anything.

You could call it nice, Midwestern humility or you could (more accurately) call it lack of confidence.

I just feel like the second you say “I have the best way” of doing something the natural next step is for someone to say “there is a better way.”

But despite that,  when Christopher asked me how I avoid wrinkles in my Mod Podge projects I thought to myself “I have the BEST way!”

I didn’t invent this and it’s not really earth-shattering or anything but I don’t see it mentioned very often.  (Also when, long ago, I included it in the steps of a tutorial people kinda freaked on me so I thought perhaps I was just making things more difficult.)  But I’ve been doing this for years and years and it works really well for me every time.

For the purposes of this tutorial I’m just going to make one of my 6×9 patent signs.

Here are the basics of what I usedPerfect Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Technique

  • Wood
  • Matte Mod Podge (in a squeeze bottle – explanation below)
  • Laser Print Out of my graphic
  • Roller tool (totally optional)
  • Foam Brush
  • Paper towels

and what is my big secret!?The secret to wrinkle free Mod Podge projects

a bowl of water.

Yeah, I wish it was a more exciting reveal too but what can I say?  It works!

OK to lay some basics out.

Printing: For this to work you must have a laser (or toner based) print. Ink jet prints wont work. I have a laser printer at home and for larger print jobs I go to Staples or Kinkos.

Paper: For most of my work I use Staples Brand Laser Paper, bright white 28lb. But I have also used just plain copy/print paper and all kinds of commercially printed paper like scrap book paper, wrapping paper etc without any problems.

The only paper that hasn’t worked? Tissue paper (too thin) and cardstock (too thick).

Matte Mod Podge: This is the formula I use to stick things down.  There are a lot of different Mod Podge formulas and I use may of them but I almost always start with Matte

Squeeze Bottle. I do a lot of Mod Podging. I mean A LOT. Every day a lot. So, I find it’s easier to just pour the Mod Podge into a squeeze bottle. It’s quick, simple, neat and I can control how much Mod Podge I use and I waste a lot less. (side note, I lost the cap to the squeeze bottle several years ago and it doesn’t seem to make any difference!)

Water: Soaking the paper in a shallow bowl of water for just a few seconds lets the fibers of the paper relax a bit which makes it much easier to smooth into place.

So, here what I do and the order I do it in for all my Mod Podge Projects.

1) Squeeze out the Mod Podge onto the surface of the woodEasy Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

2) Drop the image into the water.avoid wrinkles in Mod Podge Projects

3) Spread the Mod Podge around in an even layer.Easy way to avoid wrinkles with Mod Podge

4) I pull the paper out of the water and (sorry I couldn’t take a picture of this) holding the paper in my left hand I use my right index and middle finger to gently remove any excess water. Just a couple of swipes.

5) I then lay the paper down on the wood and smooth out with my fingers. There is also plenty of slide-ability at this point so I can move the image around until I get it where I want it.

6) Once the paper is in place I use the roller to get rid of any air pockets.avoiding wrinkles in Mod Podge

The roller is a very recent addition to my arsenal and I only use it for larger items like this. For years I just used my fingers and that’s all I use on things like my coasters.

7) I then use a small section of a paper towel to lightly wipe away any excess water or Mod Podge.

8) Once the whole thing is thoroughly dry I go back in and trim away any excess paper and apply whatever sealing coat I’m using (Hard Coat Mod Podge, Gloss Mod Podge etc).

Soaking Time: I let the paper soak just as long as it takes me to spread the Mod Podge around – so maybe 10-20 seconds depending on the size of what I’m doing.

I’ve seen advice to let the paper soak long enough that it curls up and then uncurls. I find that makes it more prone to tearing – esp if you’re working with basic printer paper.

Sometimes my paper does curl up a bit but it I just smooth it out when I apply it to the wood.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE

The only downside that I’ve found with this method is that as the paper relaxes it sometimes expands a little bit. That’s only a problem if I’m working on an inner surface (like a tray or the inside bottom of a box) and I have to be super precise.

Aaaaand……. that is my big secret!  Soak the paper in water for a few seconds.  It may take a few trys before you get the method down but I would say it works and works beautifully for me about 99% of the time.

I hope that’s helpful to you when next you Mod Podge.  If you have any questions fire away and I’ll do my best to answer.

 

DIY Tray Using Scrap Wood and Dollar Store Napkins

DIY Wood Tray

I had a few folks ask for a tutorial on the napkin/mod podge technique I showed in the last post.

Your wish is my command.

It really is very, very easy and when I’m done explaining you will shout:

“Honey!  Come quick!  David has found yet another way to glue stuff to wood!!!!!”

It’s a gift.

The supplies are simple. Here is what I used:DIY Tray with Dollare Store Napkins, Scrap Wood and Mod Podge

 

  • Scrap Wood
  • Napkins from the Dollar Store
  • Matte Mod Podge (the pic shows Furniture Matte but the original MP Matte formula is just fine)
  • Hard Coat Mod Podge
  • Wood Stain

Not Pictured

  • Wood Glue (needed only if you’re making this particular tray)
  • Clamps (see above parenthetical thought)
  • Orbital Sander with 220 grit sandpaper (you could do it by hand if you don’t have the orbital)

First up I just stained the top edges and sides of my scrap wood and, once dry, gave them a light sanding to smooth things out just a bit.  A certain amount of roughness is fine – even preferable – so don’t get too aggressive with the sanding.

While the stain was drying I separated the napkin layers (mine were 2-ply) – you want the thinnest possible version of your napkin.Mod Podge with NapkinsAfter trimming the napkin to fit the width of the board I laid down some Mod Podge and smoothed the napkin into place. Wrinkles are inevitable here and that’s fine – they just add to the final look in my opinion.Dollar Store Napkins and Mod PodgeOnce the Mod Podge had really, thoroughly dried I went back in with my sander set at a fairly low speed.

I went over the edges, using the sander to cut away any overhanging napkinDistressed Trayand then, using very little pressure went over the whole thing sanding until I got the look I liked.

The sanding will take away the edges and sand off a bit of the top of any wrinkle which gives a nice texture.  It also allows just a bit of the wood grain to show through.

For this tray project I then used wood glue and clamps to connect the boards together*DIY simple tray with scrap wood and dollar store napkins

Once the glue had dried I went over the surface with a couple of coats of Hard Coat Mod Podge for durability and with the addition of some handles I was done.DIY Tray Tutorial

*Since there is no structure supporting the boards this is what you would call a “light duty” tray. For a sturdier version I would some kind of support on the bottom – either a backer made out of some thin sheet wood or perhaps just strips of wood screwed in place to give it a bit more strength.

You can see in this close up how a lot of the underlying stain gets sanded away but what remains leaves a cool looking, sorta burned edge where the napkin meets the wood.  You can also see how any wrinkles get sanded down a bit and add to the texture.Mod Podge Napkins onto wood

Further Thoughts:

In looking at the pics I think it might look good to extend the napkins over the sides of the outer edges just for a more completed look.

The only downside of this iteration is that while the wood strips are long and rectangular the napkins are square so there is some overlapping of the graphic.  I either need to make smaller trays or find really huge napkins.

Using tissue paper rather than napkins would be a good work-around for the above issue.

And there you have it!  Stuff!  Glued to Wood!

 

 

 

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