DIY Wooden Caddy Image Transfer Tutorial

Artisans of all experience levels enjoy the versatility of Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements.

When using Transfer Gel, artists are not limited to a specific type of image. Transfer Gel helps artists create unique, one-of-kind, custom image transfer designs regardless of color or size. Transfer Gel has been formulated to allow images to be transferred to a variety of surfaces.

Selecting the Image

There is a plethora of sources for images to be used for image transfer projects. One of our favorite sources is The Graphics Fairy.

For this project we found two lovely vintage bird images. We will be using one for each end of our wooden caddy. These images, which appear to be artwork from vintage chocolate boxes, can be downloaded from The Graphics Fairy site here and here.

Printing the Image

Transfer Gel projects require images to be printed with a laser printer or commercially printed. Printer inks used for image transfers must be non-water soluble to avoid ink bleeds. Commercial businesses offering print services typically have laser printers, but always confirm with the print service provider.

Getting images printed can be as easy as attaching an image file to an email and picking up the print from a local office supply or shipping store. Depending on size, these prints typically cost less than a dollar each.

*Helpful Hint: If an image has text, make sure the image is mirrored (reversed) prior to printing.

Applying the Image

When using Transfer Gel to transfer images, the image is sandwiched between a fine layer of paper fiber and the Transfer Gel medium. Depending on the desired finish, sometimes the paper fibers can be too much of a contrast on darker paint or stain colors.

For this project, we are using a light paint color to coordinate with our graphic for a more muted tone.

Apply a fairly generous amount of Transfer Gel to the surface. Missing areas or applying too little gel will prevent the image from adhering to the surface. An Artisan Enhancements Topcoat Brush works well for an even application of the gel.

Quickly apply the image face down into the wet Transfer Gel. Firmly smooth out any wrinkles and air bubbles.

Allow the paper to adhere to the surface and the gel to dry for a minimum of 24 hours.

Using a damp sponge, moisten a section of the paper. We recommend starting in the center of the surface and working towards the edges.

Using your fingertips, gently rub away the damp paper fibers. Use light pressure and be careful not to rub too hard. If too much pressure is used, the image maybe accidentally completely removed.

Continue to dampen the paper and work away the fibers with your finger tips. Resist the urge to peel the paper away.

Transfer Gel image transfers are not perfect replications of the original image. Small areas where the image is lost add to the aged charm of the graphic.

Applying Additional Details

To the sides of the caddy opposite our image transfers, we applied our Romanesque stencil. Our large round brush served us well for this application.

Once our paint dried completely, we used a fine grit sandpaper to distress the design and add to the vintage look of the caddy.

We chose to seal our finished project with Clear Topcoat Sealer for a durable matte finish. We used our 45mm Topcoat brush to apply two thin, even coats, waiting 24 hours between applications.

We love the idea of using this fun wooden caddy as a centerpiece for Holiday table decor. The vintage bird graphics add a charming and unique element to the look!

Pin this image so that you can easily revisit this tutorial in the future.

Want more image transfer inspiration? Here are two more transfer tutorials from the Artisan Enhancements archives!

 French Perfume Graphic on Vintage Cabinet

Vintage Floral Graphic on Metal Bucket

Want more stencil tips and inspiration? You can read our post all about getting the most out of your stencils here and watch our Stenciling Basics video here.

We hope this tutorial has given you the confidence and inspiration to tackle your own image transfer project! Be sure to hashtag #artisanenhancements when you share your work on social media. We can’t wait to see what you create!


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