canvas ink transfer 2We are currently in the middle of an exciting art lesson. I’ve seen several pins on Pinterest showing the transfer of photographs onto canvas using a gel medium.  I thought that I could use this same concept to transfer text onto canvas as well.

A few things:

  • I painted the canvas since I did not want a plain white background
  • This art project takes several steps and a few lessons to complete (warn your students ahead of time that patience is key!)
  • The gel medium is permanent when dry (so don’t use it on your kitchen table like I did…though I did get 99% of it off)
  • Any image you transfer will become reversed (maybe not important with pictures, but super important with text)
  • When I went to Michael’s (i.e. the place I go to almost every day), there were so many different types of gel medium.  I’m not very knowledgeable about the differences between the various types, but I used this one and it worked well:

glazing mediumSupplies:

  • white paper
  • laser printer (I don’t believe this works on ink jet printers!)
  • Modge Podge
  • acrylic paint and paintbrushes
  • gel medium
  • canvas

On to the process!

Designing and printing the text:

1. I chose a quote that I wanted to display.  I went with 1 Corinthians 2:9.  I used Microsoft Publisher to turn this bible verse into subway art (see Lisa’s post on subway art if you are unsure).  I did this by inserting a new WordArt text for each different font.  I really recommend this process as it gives you a lot of control with respect to size, font, and positioning. Keep the font black.

2. Once the subway art was created, I selected all the WordArt texts and grouped them together to created one selection:

grouping word art3. When the ink transfers onto the canvas, the image will be reversed.  To keep the text correct and legible, I then flipped the image horizontally:

flip quote4. I then printed this on my laser printer.

Painting and ink transfer:

1. I painted the canvas with the acrylic paint.  I went with yellow, pink, bronze, and red. This process was really simple and just required blending the colours together. Here’s my canvas and printout right before I applied the gel medium:

canvas and print out 2. I then used paintbrush to apply a pretty thick coat of gel to the canvas.  Don’t skimp on the gel as you really want the ink to be absorbed well.  Flip your printout ink side down onto the gel. Press firmly and smooth out any wrinkles:

transfer process

3. Step away from the canvas! Don’t be like me and start poking at it (I ended up messing up a couple of letters because I was too curious).  Just let the ink slowly seep into the gel and dry.  I let it dry for about 8 hours.

4. The gel medium is permanent and water-proof, so now you want to use water to remove the white paper from the canvas.  I kept a bowl of water nearby and completely moistened the white paper. I then used my fingers to scrub and scrape the paper completely off the canvas:

wet paper

Prettying it up:

1. I could not get 100% of the white paper off of the canvas and this was really annoying me.  I brought my sample in to show my students and many of them liked the flecks of white throughout as it made it look “old” they said.  It still bothered me.  So, I took out the same acrylic paint I used at the beginning and used a dry brush technique (i.e. very small amounts of paint on the paintbrush, so that the paintbrush stays pretty dry.  This applied pigment onto the white paper flecks, but not enough paint to cover the black text).  This worked very well!

2. Once the paint touch ups were dry, I applied a thick coat of Modge Podge to seal everything and give it a nice sheen (I used the gloss finish):

apply modge podge3. I let it dry and ta-da!

completed canvasAt school, we have created and printed our subway art and painted our canvases.  We will be completing the gel phase next.  Once they are all done, I will share pictures with you all.  I have very talented and artistic students and their work is always beautiful!


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