Remember those sun prints I made a while ago? I made some last summer too and decided to mount them on small blocks (3 x 3 inches). I first discovered this framing option when I came across some mounted art on Etsy.
This is a nice way to turn any kind of image into an interesting art object. I first mounted some color photographs from my trip to Italy as a hostess gift for a friend who lived in Italy for a time. This post will share the steps for making the wood blocks as an alternative to framing.
It’s not hard at all after you take some initial time to assemble the supplies.
1. Find some wood blocks. I got some cut to order from Lowes (3 x 3 x 1 inch) then sanded the sharp edges.
2. Assemble your photos. Or make some sun prints! If you’re going to work with photos, I would suggest you print them on archival matte photo paper. I used 5 x7 Epson Ultra Premium Glossy photo paper. When you print the photo, you need it to be slightly larger than the wood block because you’ll be trimming the edges.
If you can’t print them on your own printer, you may be able to send them to a vendor to print like mpix which uses professional paper that they say “will last 100 years in a good environment.” You don’t have to use archival paper, of course, but you will ensure that the piece lasts longer if you do. I had thought of mounting some of my art prints and selling them, so I wanted to sell the highest quality product at the time.
3. Prepare the wood block with polyurethane. I brushed it on all sides of the block and then let it dry on an old wire rack. (You can also stain the block, but I didn’t with these; I like the look of the natural wood.)
4. (Optional) Add acid-free gloss to the top of the block. Spread one to two coats of acid-free Golden brand Polymer Medium gloss to the side where you’ll adhere the image. Or, you can use any kind of mounting glue. That way, the image will adhere well and not ripple, and last longer due to the acid-free layer between it and the wood. Let the wood dry completely between coats. (I bought the Golden gloss from Dick Blick art store online, which offers great prices on art supplies.)
5. Use an adhesive on the back side of the image. Use an adhesive to secure the image to the wood block. You can use one of these spray adhesives. I used an Xyron machine which is this handy gadget for making stickers and for laminating paper. I found an inexpensive one on Craigslist. I figured I’d use it for projects with the kids, and I especially like that it runs completely manually by using the hand crank – no batteries or electricity required. It’s a popular tool for making cards and scrapbooks.
6. Very carefully attach the image to the block. Put wax paper over the image and smooth the image down with a credit card or brayer.
7. Trim the sides of the image with an Xacto knife.
8. Paint a topcoat over the image. You can use Mod Podge, or to be archival, you can use Golden brand Gel Topcoat with ULVS (gloss). Like Mod Podge, it goes on white and then dries clear. By investing in the gloss that has ULVS, the image won’t fade as quickly over time. If you get a photo custom framed, often the glass will have ULVS as well, so that you don’t have to be concerned about hanging it where natural light will potentially fade it.
9. Attach a hook on back or use mounting stickers, although beware of that approach since the art will be very difficult to remove from plaster. I love arranging art in groups and love the pop of blue in my living room from the sun prints. I’ve seen these blocks set up on a desk or mantle too side by side or one on top of the other. Fun!