One of the first posts I ever did was on my vintage signs I made for both my kitchen and living room (check it out here!) using t-shirt transfers (grab them here). Although I made them a couple of years ago, I just went through the process again to help my brother make a birthday gift for my sister-in-law. He chose an old piece of painted wood that was much smoother than the fence pickets I had used previously, which had layers of chipped and peeling paint on them. So the process was a little different since the board was so smooth.
I then played around to do a bit of a fusion piece – more modern, non-distressed board and frame with distressed letters. I didn’t want to attack the piece with sandpaper, so I needed to make just the letters distressed.
I must warn you, this isn’t my usual quick and easy project. Granted, it’s not super difficult, but it is time-consuming, especially if you are just using your basic old scissors to cut these puppies out! (I’m really in the market for a die cut machine!)
To help explain the process, first note that there are basically 2 layers to a t-shirt transfer, the material that is printed on and is designed to stay on the shirt, and the transfer paper, which is peeled off after the design has been ironed on. The design that you print onto the material becomes a third layer in the form of ink.
In this process, I am removing not only the transfer paper but also the printed material, leaving behind just the ink.
I began by printing out all of my letters in mirror. I’m attaching the file if you happen to want to make this one for yourself. The fonts are Voga and Shorelines. The letters are sized for a 16″ x 24″ board. I then cut out the letters with scissors and an exacto knife.
Once I laid out where the letters should go, I began ironing them on, one letter at a time. I used just the tip of my iron to attach them to the board (not ironing over the paint, as that would ruin the finish). After each letter, I began carefully peeling off the transfer paper. If the whole piece began pulling away with no ink remaining on the board, I pushed it back down, ironed more and pressed it down with my fingers. I then checked again until the ink was staying on the board.
Below you can see where the transfer paper is gone and I began peeling the second layer at the corner.
Sometimes, the two layers come off easily together, sometimes not. I did have to pull out the tweezers to get some of the second layer off. And all cards on the table, some of that second layer is still on the sign.
I created a simple frame from 1x2s, similar to the way I made this snapshot frame. What do you think? I’m digging the final result.
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