Easy DIY Photo Transfer Gifts

The best gifts of all are the truly personal ones, and what could be more personal than something that features a favorite family photo? The only problem with it we’ve ever found is that it can get expensive to create those special presents— until NOW!

We’ve found a super easy DIY way to use Mod Podge to transfer a photo – or ANY image you love – to stone or pretty much any material of your choice! The result is a one-of-a-kind craft that nobody will believe you made yourself, and you? You won’t believe how simply and magically it works. Just watch this.

How cool is that?! We just love the way the images appear as we rub away the paper. It’s like a magic trick, with an assist from every crafter’s favorite: Mod Podge.

And as you saw in the video, you can really make this one your own. Use wood or rocks, make magnets or coasters, go colorful or stay classic black-and-white. Whatever you choose, your lucky gift-receiver is going to love it– and so are you! Keep reading to get the full step-by-step instructions to make your DIY Photo Transfer Crafts yourself.

DIY Photo Transfer Crafts

Materials

  • Cardboard or newspaper
  • Your favorite laser-printed photos and/or images, sized to fit chosen medium
  • Smooth, bright and lightly-colored stones, any shape (or tiles, wood, rocks, etc.)
  • Paper towels
  • Medium-sized bowl and/or spray bottle filled with water
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush and/or tooth brush
  • Paint brush
  • Polycrylic (or another water-based sealant), for waterproofing
  • Small magnets (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare your workspace by lining it with the cardboard or newspaper.
  2. Trim the photo so that no white space remains and it is sized to fit your stone.
  3. Use a damp paper towel to remove any dust particles from the stone. Brush a light coat of Mod Podge over the top of the stone.
  4. Center the photo, face-side-down, on the stone, and press firmly. Use a flat-edged piece of cardboard (or another firm, straight-edged object, like a credit card) to gently smooth out any air bubbles. Allow it to dry completely overnight.
  5. After drying overnight, dip a cloth into the bowl of water and wet the back of the image. (If transferring an image to wood, use the spray bottle and be sure not to saturate the wood.)
  6. Use your fingers to carefully rub the paper so it pills and pulls away, revealing the image. Then use the sponge brush or toothbrush to gently brush away the rest of the paper until only the transferred image remains, being careful not to rub away the image itself.
  7. Allow the stone to dry completely. Use the paint brush to apply a layer of the Polycrylic, which acts as a sealant and waterproofs the stone. Apply a second coat as needed.
  8. If using, use hot glue to attach the magnets to the back of the stone.
  9. Place your photo stone around your home, or give as a gift. Either way, enjoy!

Crafter’s Tips

  • Cardboard is the best material for your workstation. A baking pan can also make clean-up much easier.
  • Using relatively smooth stones, rocks, tiles and/or wood ensures that you get a seamless transfer of the image, without the final result being too polished or shiny. Bright and more lightly-colored materials tend to be more successful, too.
  • Whatever material you choose for your craft, make sure you choose one that isn’t too porous.
  • Print out your image on the lightest-weight paper stock possible. You can either edit it in a photo editing program and print it out at home on your own laser printer, or you can take it to your local print shop like we did.
  • Note that whatever image you transfer will be reversed during the process. So if you’re transferring anything with words, use your favorite photo editing program to flip the text horizontally (i.e. a mirror image) before printing it out, so that the writing appears correctly in the final image.
  • Polycrylic is easy to clean-up, dries smoothly, and doesn’t leave streaks. If you prefer, however, you can use another water-based sealant of your choice.

For Wood

  • Be sure not to soak the wood completely in step 5. Wood has a porous surface and therefore CANNOT be soaked. A spray bottle is your perfect solution!
  • Be extra careful when rubbing the paper away from the image, and be sure to use only your fingers, NOT a toothbrush. The porous surface makes it a more delicate process— but it also makes it easier!
  • If you want to enhance the overall presentation, you can also apply a light stain to the wood before you apply the Polycrylic sealant.

For Tiles

  • Using tiles is an especially great idea for making your own personalized DIY coasters.
  • Relatively smooth, 4-inch-by-4-inch coasters work best, but any size you want will work.
  • A toothbrush is especially helpful for loosening and removing the paper when using tiles.
  • Attach felt pads to the bottoms of the tiles to create coasters that won’t damage your tables.

Want more craft and gift ideas? Check these out!