Sunday, November 17, 2013

Image Transfer on Wood

A while ago, after reading Collage Fusion: Vibrant Wood and Fabric Art Using Telamadera Techniques by Alma de la Melena Cox, I got myself a pyrographic kit from Michaels. I have yet to create art using her techniques, but I learned how to transfer images using the wood burning tool. It has become one of my favorite image transfer techniques. I like using it on small unfinished wood surfaces and the more I use the more I like it. This weekend, I decorated a set of wood tags using this technique and while I was at it, I took photos and wrote up this tutorial.

 Materials Needed

1. Wood burning kit. Available at all craft stores. Buy one that includes a circular tool point.
2. Small unfinished wood pieces--tag, round and rectangle shaped. They can be found in the wood craft section at Michaels. Transfer works best on unfinished and unpainted pieces. 
3. Craft acrylic paints, glazing medium and gel pens. Again, these can be bought from any craft store.
4. Copyright free images. An excellent source for free images are The images should be printed on a laser printer or photocopied. The images used for transfer should be toner based. Inkjet prints will not transfer. The photo below shows a sample of wood pieces and images.


The kit I bought came with several points along with the burning tool and one of them was a transfer point. It is a round disc (see below). 

1. I taped the image on the wood surface (image side down). I taped the image so that my left hand would not be in the way of the burner tool.

3. I set the temperature dial on the wood burner to the maximum and let it heat for about 6 minutes.

4. Once it was heated, I rubbed the point over the image using a continuous circular motion.

5. It took about five minutes to get the image transferred. When it was done , it looked like this.

As you can see, the transfer causes some burning to occur. I, personally, do not mind this, If you want to minimize wood burns, you can use set the heat at a lower temperature. Experiment a little to see what works for you.

Tip 1: Press firmly but not too hard and move the tip continuously in a circular motion. Otherwise, the paper will get round burn marks which will imprint on the wood.
Tip 2: Lift the paper often to make sure the image is transferring.
Tip 3: The tip can get very hot; use caution and follow the manufacturer's instruction on safe use.

The following steps are optional. You may stop with just the image transfer and use the pieces in their natural, unfinished state or you may additional colors and enhancements.

6. Squeeze a few drops of craft paint on a paper plate. Add several drops of glazing medium to the paint and blend it thoroughly. Craft acrylic paints are usually opaque and adding a glazing medium makes the paint transparent. Paint over the image. When done, it will look like this.

As you can see, the image is visible under the paint. You can stop here and use the tag as it is or if you want to do more, you can highlight the details with gel pens. Black and white colors work best.

Thanks for visiting.