This blog isn’t always going to be about knitting… I am also a fanatic for DIY projects, so I wanted to share my newest feat: I just made some wood block photo transfers.  It was so easy and they turned out ever better than I expected.   I saw the idea first on the Free People blog, which is mecca for DIY projects.  In their demonstration, they used these cute round wood slabs with bark around the edges.  I honestly have no idea where you would get such a thing, but luckily for me, my friend had already picked up some wood slabs for the occasion from the lumber yard.  These work perfectly because you don’t have to mount it, they just stand on their own.

We used:

2  8 X 11 X 3″ wood slabs
Gel medium
Mod Podge glue
2 photos printed at home on regular printer paper (mirror imaged before hand)
…and that’s it!

1. The first step is to cover the wood block with the gel medium and press your image onto it face down and smooth out all the bubbles.  We did this with a credit card, then let it sit over night.

2. Once it’s fully dried (at least 8 hours), you lay a damp cloth over the image for about 5 minutes.


3. With the damp cloth, begin to rub the back of the paper away and you’ll start to see the photo appearing.  A word of advice: don’t scratch too hard or you’ll make holes!  I think it’s a little bit inevitable, but it’s all part of the look at the end.


4. Once you’ve scratched all of the pulp away, let your photo dry and then cover it with a layer of Mod Podge. I ended up letting mine dry and then scraping quite a few times, because I always found more once it dried, so keep at it until you’re satisfied with the look!  I also put glue around all of the sides, to give it a smoother look overall.


These turned out so well, I gave one away as a gift and kept the other one.  I’d be interested to see if this would work on driftwood, that would make a pretty cool souvenir.

*Thanks Jocelyn for coming over with the supplies and getting knee deep in glue!

11 thoughts on “wood block photos

  1. I love this idea and I certainly want to try it… although your tutorial is a bit different than the one on the free people blog. Theirs doesnt mention use of a gel medium and yours (along with most others i’ve found online) does. Any comments? I don’t know how it would work without the gel medium and with normal mod podge in it’s place.

  2. I researched the idea on quite a few blogs, and most sources said that the gel medium was more successful. I’ve never done it only with mod podge, so I’m not sure what kind of results you would get. Thanks for the tip about michaels! I’ll check it out next time I’m there.

  3. I JUST tried this (using the directions from Free People) and it was almost successful. Unfortunately a strip of the image didn’t take and/or came off when I rubbed. I’m going to try again and let it dry a lot longer (I think I put too much Mod Podge on it to start and then didn’t let it dry long enough).

    What is gel medium?

    Also, Whitney is right–I got my wood disk at Michael’s (download their app–they always have coupons).

    • Hi Hillary,
      I would try using gel medium instead, it’s basically a colourless adhesive and I think it works much better than using only mod podge because I had total success with it. You can get it at paint stores and at Michael’s too. I’ll definitely pick up some wood disks for next time, thanks for the heads up about the coupons!

  4. Hey I’ve been reading multiple articles on this and I successfully did one however after myod podge dried I have streaks in it from the brush would a spunge possibly work better?…. Also it wasn’t until after the mod podge that my photo cracked how do I stop this from happening? Thanks in advance for any help 🙂

    • I used a paintbrush and I was happy with it when I got all of the streaks going in the same direction, maybe that is the best solution? I have no idea if a sponge would work, but I imagine it might make it look very grainy. As for the cracking… my guess is maybe you’re using the wrong sealer? I’m really not sure, I’ve only done the project this one time!

  5. I have tried this, gel glossy on the wood to adhere the photo, let dry more than 12hrs and wet a wash cloth and lay on the paper for 5 min or so and started to rub off. It was looking great, still got some spots come off but I wasn’t surprised. But I cannot get all the paper off! I printed it at staples in b/w on regular printer paper. Why is it showing white after it dries? I’ve tried so many times to gently get all the paper off, even if I’m gentle it’s still scraping so it seems impossible to get all the white off. What should I have done different?

    • I have made a few of these now and my best suggestion is to leave a damp sponge next to you, get your finger just damp from the sponge and then rub it on the spots where you still see paper fuzz. I have also found using paint sponge brushes to get everything wet several times in the process, even using it to wipe away the pieces of paper as you go, helps minimize paper fuzz. Hope this helps 🙂

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