Friday, 21 December 2012

How to make wooden photo cubes



Remember back in the day, when you used to trot off to the chemist and hand you roll of film in, then excitedly go back a fortnight later to collect your photos?  Then you'd proudly display them in an album, frame them for the wall or pop one in your wallet?

Nowadays family snaps are more likely to be hidden away on your hard drive or floating around the internet ether on a cloud hosting service.

Well, it's time to bring back the humble photo!  Follow my tutorial to make these gorgeous, ever so retro photo cubes.


You will need:

Selection of photos, cropped to size and then photocopied
A wooden craft block (try craft stores or online, I can recommend Craft Shapes)
DYLON Image Maker

Firstly choose your photos.  Crop them to size and print off on good quality photo paper - a photocopy is only as good as the original.  I've discovered I live not only in a one-horse-town, but also a one-photocopier-town, so black and white was the only option for me.  No matter, I really wanted a vintage feel anyway, but just so you know, this will work with colour copies too.

Trim your photocopied pictures to fit the sides of the cube.  It's easier and less fiddly if you make them smaller all round, leaving a wooden 'border'.  I've gone all fancypants instagrammy and rounded the corners too.  You could cut them to any shape though - I imagine hearts would look lovely.

For this one I'm showing you on a natural, untreated wooden block.  I also tried it on one I'd painted, which gave a different effect - a much bolder image, more solid, but I found the image didn't adhere as well and parts of it rubbed off in the later process.

A natural wooden block will give a sepia type tone to your images because the natural wood colour shows through.

Once your images are trimmed, squirt a good dollop of the DYLON Image Maker onto the printed side and spread out with a paintbrush.  Do this on a protected surface, such as a sheet of greaseproof paper.  You need a good, generous covering, so the image is barely visible through the white product.


Carefully peel up your image, pick it up and lay it onto a face of the cube.  Treat it carefully - wet paper isn't the most robust thing in the world.  Slide it into position, and then smooth down carefully.  The excess gloop with splurge out of the sides, so scoop that up on your brush to use for the next picture.  Make sure it's fully pressed down, with no lumps or air bubbles.  Wipe the surface carefully with a dry sponge or paper towel (if you have a coating of Image Maker on the back, the rubbing off process will be much harder).



Repeat on other sides.  Obviously for a cube, you can't do all six at once or it will have no way to stand and dry.  I did 3 at a time.

Leave to dry for at least 6 hours or overnight.


Then, take a clean wet sponge and dampen the paper on one cube face.  Keep wetting it until it's saturated - you'll see it change to a darker colour.  Then, with your finger rub back and forth until the paper peels away.  Lots of slow gentle rubbing is much better than fast and furious rubbing.

Err. Moving on.


I love this part of the process.  Much like old fashioned photo developing, you'll see the image magically appear before your eyes.  Wipe off the bits of paper and continue with your other sides.



Leave to dry off and you'll be left with images which have a slightly fuzzy, flocked paper feel.  Rub again with your finger (gently!) to remove the remaining paper.  You might find it better to wet your finger first.  Once all the images are clear, you can seal by rubbing a little more of the Image Maker over it, but this gives a glossy finish.  I sealed mine with a matt modge podge and am really pleased with the final result.

Let me know what you think.

Disclosure:  I have been working with DYLON throughout the year.  Please see my disclosure page for full details.

28 comments:

  1. this is fantastic - i wish i had time to do it for christmas gifts!

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    1. Thank you Kat, I wish I'd have been able to do it and post it sooner. It's just crazy busy at the moment huh? x

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  2. Very cool, I've seen similar ways of doing things like this before, but I have to say this seems to be by far the easiest, just wondering if I have any blocks of wood lying about.

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    1. You are the wood man extraordinaire, I bet you could come up with something amazing!

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  3. This is great, never seen the dylon stuff so may have to check it out. This would make a lovely present, off to pin

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  4. This is great, never seen the dylon stuff so may have to check it out. This would make a lovely present, off to pin

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  5. I've used that on t-shirts before but never thought about wood. They are brilliant! Guess what everybody will be getting for their birthday next year... x

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    1. Thank you! I've done T Shirts and bags before but was wondering how it would work on a solid item. So glad I experimented!

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  6. Looks lovely on the cube. I remember my mum doing this. You can do it on wooden boxes, tables, chest of drawers etc xxx

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    1. Ahh yes, I was thinking on a wooden jewellery box would be nice.

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  7. Love this am so going to have a go at this xxx

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  8. I love this idea: so striking and beautiful and, frankly, bloody awesome. Where do you get such fantastic ideas? This exactly what I need for a craft I have planned :D

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    1. You know how taking a photo of a photo never shows it off properly? Well, that.

      Frankly I think it's bloody fantastic too, I'm so happy with how it's come out, I think it might be my favourite project ever. Just gutted I didn't do it sooner so I could have shared before Christmas. x

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  9. This is such a fab idea Liz...and would make a great present. Darn being so close to Chrismtas, I would have made this for my OH x

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  10. This looks great fun. I wonder if it works on fabric too...

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    1. Yes, it's actually designed for fabric, but I thought ya know, I'd try something different! x

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  11. Love love love these Liz! You are so clever!

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    1. Thanks Claire. They're even nicer in 'the flesh'! x

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  12. Ooh, I have some of this , can't wait to try it out now!

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  13. That is super! It would make a terrific gift.

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  14. This is great. Gonna have to try it!

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  15. I love this and I am *sooo* going to make some of them!

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