I have been wanting to try making my own canvases for awhile now, but had never gotten around to it until this past weekend. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to do it, but finally decided to just give it a try and see how it looked. Given how much the kids are constantly changing, and the fact that our family is still growing, I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars to have canvases professionally made every 6-12 months. So, I decided to try making my own to save us some money! I was pretty happy with how they turned out, especially given the fact that I spent less than $5 for each of them!!
I decided to purchase 2-12x12" and 2-9x12" canvases for this project. Since I was printing the pictures (taken by our wonderful photographer, Kristy Vest) at home, 13x19" is the largest print I can make with my wide-format Epson printer. I have some 11x14" canvases to use for another project, but wanted to display these pictures in a square pattern, so using all canvases with a 12" side worked best for this. I purchased my canvases at Michaels, as they were 50% off. I was able to get the smaller two for $1.75 each and the bigger ones for $2 each. What a steal!
Here is my step-by-step tutorial for making your own canvas at home:
- Canvas(es) (I used Artist's Loft canvases)
- Black acrylic paint (I used Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint in beetle black)
- Photos (printed on premium matte photo paper)
- Mod Podge (I used the matte variety)
- Foam brush
Start by painting the edges of your canvas with the acrylic paint and the appropriate sized paintbrush. The canvases I purchased were just 1/2" thick, but you can purchase thicker ones if you desire.
Be sure to coat onto the front of the canvas, over the edge, so no white will be showing when you place your picture on.
Also be sure to coat well onto the back of the canvas, too, so no white will show there either, while canvas is hanging.
Let the paint dry for 20 minutes and ensure that the edges are well-coated. Give it another coat if needed (I only needed one coat), then grab your bottle of Mod Podge. I used this matte variety and was very happy with how well it worked.
Coat the entire front of the canvas with a generous layer of the Mod Podge, using your foam brush.
Place your printed picture carefully on the front of the canvas, turn the canvas over and apply pressure to the back of the canvas, smoothing it out from the middle to the edges, to eliminate air bubbles.
Turn the canvas back over and ensure that everything is lined up how you want it.
Apply a coat of Mod Podge on top of the picture using your foam brush. Brush it both horizontally and vertically onto the picture, using small strokes.
As you apply the Mod Podge (foam brush is pictured), the print may develop air bubbles on the sides as it is saturated with the glue.
Apply a generous amount of Mod Podge to the edges. Using your fingers, tightly hold down the edges of the picture to the canvas, for about 20 seconds, to get rid of the bubbling.
Repeat this step around all of the edges to secure the print, not leaving any space between the print and the canvas. You can clean up the excess glue on the edges with a wet paper towel.
Allow the first layer of Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes), then apply another layer to be sure you didn't miss any spots. Allow it to dry one more time, then it's ready to hang! The Mod Podge gives the photo a great glossy finish with a nice texture that resembles an actual canvas.
Please feel free to ask any questions about this process if any of my steps are not clear. This was my first attempt at trying to make my own canvas, and when I started, I didn't know how it would turn out. I was very happy with the results and surprised at how closely it resembles an actual professional canvas print! It may not look completely perfect, but for under $5, it looks pretty darn good! :)