A simple project to transfer you favorite photos to tiles
The steps involved in this simple project will allow you to transfer your favorite photos on to tiles to keep for yourself or give away as gifts. Depending upon your desired results you could use your tile to create: a trivet (either for use on the table or as a decorative wall hanging), a key rack, the top to a jewelry or keepsake box, etc. You could even take one picture and break it into several tiles to create your own mural.
You'll need the following materials:
- A photograph, preferrably something you can resize/crop to the size of your tile (or slightly smaller. In many cases it is nice to have your picture a bit smaller so it doesn't run right to the edge of your tile. For example, for a 6 x 6 tile, I like to use a photo that is 5.5 x 5.5).
- A piece of tile to mount your picture on. 6 x 6 inch tumbled marble tiles are a nice size as they are big enough to display your picture nicely and there are several mounting options available for the tiles. The irregularity of the tiles also gives a nice handcrafted touch to your creation. You can find tile frames, trivets, etc on websites such as Aftosa.com. The tiles themselves are available at local home centers such as Lowes and Home Depot.
- Turpentine. Be sure to use real turpentine. White spirits or substitutes will not work.
- A small paintbrush to use to spread the turpentine on your tile.
- Polyurethane. I have found that MinWax spray polyurethane works nicely. You can get it in both glossy and satin finishes and can use whichever one will give the results you want.
- Lazertran Waterslide Decal Paper for Inkjet Printers. This is available on-line only. I have not found it in any of our local stores.
- Small brayer or rolling pin.
If you have all of the above materials it's time to begin using the following instructions:
- Size your picture to the desired size and print it on the white, eggshell/chalky side of the Lazertran paper. Note: Using too much ink will cause the image to bleed.
- For Epson printers, set the paper type to "Plain Paper". Go into custom then advanced and select a high DPI setting such as 1440 or as high a quality as is available. Now make sure "High Speed" printing is not selected to avoid putting on too much ink.*
- According to Lazertran, for basic HP printers, draft is a good setting. I have not tried this as I do not have an HP printer.
- Allow your picture to dry for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut the Lazertran paper to the size of your image and soak in water until the decal releases easily from the backing sheet. This will take about 60 seconds. You may notice that your picture curls up when you place it in the water. This is to be expected and is not a problem.
- While your image is soaking, coat your tile with turpentine. The tile needs to be covered with turpentine, wet but not overly drenched. This is the most difficult part of the project, too much turpentine will cause your picture to melt and too little will not result in your picture transferring properly. It took a few attempts before we figured out what was correct for our tumbled marbled used in the pictures above.
- Remove your picture from the water and carefully remove the backing paper.
- Carefully transfer your picture to your stone, being careful not to let the image fold over on itself if possible.
- Carefully roll your picture with the brayer or rolling pin to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles.
- Allow your project to dry for several hours.
- Apply 2 or 3 coats of polyurethane, being sure to let the polyurethane dry completely before adding another coat. This will allow the texture of the stone to appear through your picture and will help make your picture more a part of the tile. If your picture has a white background, the background will disappear during this step and allow more of the stone's characteristics to be visible.
* Except for the paper type, these instructions are copied from Lazertran's directions and I have found them to work very well. I did not see a need to set the DPI higher than 1440 as 1440 seemed to produce an excellent image.
** There are instances here were these instructions differ from those provided by Lazertran. The instructions provided here have been tested and work very well. These instructions apply for absorbent surfaces such as tumbled marble. They have not been tested with glass, glazed ceramics, or metals as referenced by the Lazertran instructions. If you are using one of those surfaces, please follow Lazertran's instructions.