Pumpkin Sign – Transferring an Image to Wood

After an exhaustive and fruitless search for a large antique pumpkin sign, I decided to make it myself. See how I constructed the sign HERE . I have made several wooden signs in the past, shown below, using different application techniques. My favorite is tracing the image using chalk as a kind of carbon paper.

With this project, I wanted to try a different method and came across this post; Pumpkin Patch Printable & Transferring an Image to Wood from Sincerely,SaraD. A reverse image is printed on paper and then transferred onto wood.

Before beginning the transfer process, some prep work needs to be done to the sign.

  • Paint the entire surface of the unfinished sign with a white craft paint.
  • Apply two light coats, allowing paint to dry between coats.
  • Next using a brown craft paint, put a very small amount on a two inch brush and paint most of it off on some scrap paper.
  • Then with a virtually dry brush, lightly paint over random parts of the sign.
  • If the brown is too dark or harsh, just paint over with the white paint to soften.
  • At this point I wanted to give the sign some dimension instead of a solid white. The antiquing and aging will come later.

  • To create a 1 inch border, place masking tape 1 inch from the edge on all four sides, making sure the edges of the tape are firmly stuck
    • With a dry brush, roughly paint the 1 inch border space and the edges, with black craft paint.
    • Let paint dry to the touch
    • Slowly pull tape away from painted edge at an angle.
    • Allow to dry completely.
    • Using a two inch brush, apply a matte finish Acrylic Medium, to the surface area of the sign, covering completely. (I did two coats)
    • The medium, when applied is opaque but dries clear.
    • Before moving on to next step, make sure the medium is completely dry.
    • Next, plan out the wording, font and sizing for the sign.
    • Using a print sample, layout and measure the design.
    • Before printing, change the printer settings to mirror image.
    • The video recommends tearing around the letters/images you want to place on the sign. The rougher edges makes for a better transition. I did not do this… I used scissors and A LOT of elbow grease to illuminate the outline of the paper. I would recommend tearing the paper.
    • Next use a sponge brush to apply the medium to the sign where the image will be placed, working in sections.
    • Then apply medium to the printed side of the image (mirror image), and place on sign printed side down. When the image is wet it becomes transparent and should be legible not reversed.
    • Paint a layer of medium on top of the image, making sure all edges are covered. I used an ink brayer to ensure the image was completely affixed, and to eliminate any air bubbles.
    • Allow the medium and image to dry completely.

    • Using a squirt bottle with warm water, spray the images to dampen.
    • With a damp rag, gently begin rubbing paper away.
    • Repeat process until paper is completely removed. This took ALOT of elbow grease and time.
    • For a distressed, aged look, use a soft bristled toothbrush to “weather” the lettering.
    • NOTE: MAJOR BENEFIT!! – mistakes can be remedied by completely rubbing (erasing) image from sign. I had originally had the words FARM FRESH at the top of my sign, but only after ALL the lettering was adhered to the sign did I realize that the FARM FRESH was not centered. Luckily, if scrubbed hard enough the image completely comes off, leaving no evidence of the misplaced image.

    • With a fine grit sandpaper, sand the sign, to make it look old and weatherbeaten.

    • Finally, apply a dark paste Finishing Wax to the entire surface of sign.
    • Let dry. Buff off.

    Download a free copy of the supply list for this project. HERE

    Posted in DIY

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