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Affordable DIY Holiday Gift

I would call my husband a semi-professional photographer. In my humble opinion, he takes amazing photos and has even done a few weddings. He really enjoys shooting just for fun and as a hobby. So with all my husband’s skills we have a lot of incredible photos he has taken, not only of scenic landscapes, but of our children.

I needed some way to display this wonderful art, but in a less expensive way than ordering pics and frames and matting from MPIX.com (great company by the way; quality and timely with delivery). So this is what brought about my DIY photo canvas idea (technically, it was an idea taken from Pinterest, where all great DIY projects come from these days it seems).

So here is a list of things you will need to get going with this project:

1. Canvas (pick a size you can get a picture printed in)
2. Mod podge
3. Black paint and paint brush
4. Picture

Now let me go into further detail about the materials needed. For the canvas I purchased a pack of seven 12×12. I used a 50% off coupon that craft stores basically hand out like candy if you are on the mailing lists, or text msg, etc. Don’t go to a craft store without a coupon! With the coupon it made each canvas like $1.76.

I bought a very small – 2 fl oz to be exact – bottle of acrylic black paint. The paint will cost anywhere from one to two dollars. Instead of using a paintbrush, which you might have hanging around your house, I decided to use sponge brushes. You can buy these in a pack of five or ten for one to two dollars. I was going to be doing several canvases and wanted to have a variety of paint brush sponges to choose from.

For the picture I chose to print mine at MPix because their quality, as stated before, is amazing and they have great customer service and fast delivery. I also chose to print mine in “true” black-and-white as opposed to just black-and-white (not sure what the difference is but that’s what I did). I was doing seven canvases at the time (some were given as gifts), so ordering all the pictures at the same time really cut down on the $7 flat rate shipping they charge. Each 12×12 picture printed in “true” black-and-white was about $7. So all in all I was able to make one canvas print for just about $10, which is way cheaper than you can even get at Walmart.

So here is the how-to part. Paint all four sides of your canvas with black paint and a little bit of the top part of your canvas. You don’t want any white showing. (Note: you can buy black canvas but they tend to be in limited sizes and are not sold in packs, making your canvas more expensive.) Let your paint dry.

I used a flatte finish mod podge and applied it to the top of my canvas with my sponge brush. Once I had a thin-to-medium coat of mod podge, I laid my picture down on it. I then flipped the canvas over on to a clean and clear surface so that my picture was face down to press the picture gently on to the canvas more securely. I then let it dry for five or ten minutes, then applied one to three coats of mod podge onto the top of the picture. I chose to do only one coat. I used clean straight strokes going in the same direction across my picture and made sure to cover every area thoroughly and made sure to get the corners. Then, I simply let it dry over night. (Note: the mod podge will dry clear over your picture. Picture below is of wet mod podge on top of picture. ) The canvas is so light you can hang it on the wall with one thumb tack!

2014-10-24 20.44.27

The picture at the the top of this post is the finished project. These three canvases have been hanging in my living room for the past year, with no sign of wear or tear. I have another pack of canvas just waiting for me to do more this winter.

I made two different sets of photo canvas prints for family members last year and it was truly one of the best parts of Christmas to see them open them. I made four 12 x12 canvas prints for my sister-in-law – of each of her four children – and one large 24 x 36 canvas print for my in-laws of all their grandchildren. (The 24 X 36 print I would not do again: it was very big and challenges came with it). All the photography, of course, was done by my husband earlier in the summer.

2014-12-14 21.45.23

Best wishes as you find that perfect holiday gift or DIY project for those you love as we celebrate the real reason for this wonderful time of year – Jesus’s birth.

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  • Reply Anita Murray December 2, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Thank you for all the thrifty ideas. They help us stop and think about what we can do to be thoughtful about finding another way of doing things better.

    • Reply camille December 3, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Anita!

  • Reply Kathy December 3, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I have seen the big canvas of all the grandkids and it is just beautiful. I didn’t know that it wasn’t a “professional” canvas. Great job, Camille.

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