Friday, March 13, 2015

Tile photos

One of our friends has a rescue dog that has been diagnosed with cancer...actually, they have two rescues...one for her and one for him :)   They have been driving him to chemo once a week for treatment and spend a lot of time with him. I thought that it would be nice to give him a remembrance photo for him that would be, hopefully, just as special for him later as Chi (the dog) is now. I hope he likes it!
I'm going to try to explain the process but if you have any questions, let me know and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
I start these with a black and white photo that has been re-sized to 8" x 8". The photo is then cut into 4 4" pieces. With paper formula ModPodge, I glue each 4" square to a piece of ceramic tile from the home improvement big box store. These tiles usually run less than 25 cents each so keep a stack on hand...you never know. And this really is one of those projects that never fails to come out perfectly every time as long as you measure and cut the 4" squares carefully to begin with.
So...here's what I started with:
I converted the file to a black and white photo in Microsoft Word. I guess you could use Photoshop or something else more "serious" but this project is easy and Photoshop makes my head hurt trying to figure out all of the tools.
Once your photo is printed (I use my regular inkjet printer), cut the photo into 4" squares. This part is important because the tiles come 4-1/2" x 4-1/2". You need that 1/4" inch overhang on each side to make the tiles look nice.
I cleaned each tile with alcohol to make sure the store dust and body oils are gone. (This prevents any issues with the glue later.) I used a sponge brush to spread the ModPodge onto one tile at a time and place each piece of the photo into place. If you make any mistakes, like laying down your photo squares crooked, now is the time to correct it. You can run the tile under running water and the paper and glue will wash off and you can start over once the tile is completely dry. BUT remember these tiles are ceramic and they won't dry right away. I have reused them in the past to correct errors but like I said, you have to allow for the water to dry before trying again. And you also have to print a new photo ;)
The ModPodge needs to dry for at least two hours before you go on to the next step. Once the tile is dry, you start adding top layers of the ModPodge. My personal preference is 3-4 coats. I think that it helps smooth out any bubbles you may have missed and will make sure that the photo is completely adhered to the tile. If the top layers aren't heavy enough you may run into an issue with the paper trying to "lift" off the tile. Now...ask me how I know this!
And this is what you will end up with at this point:
I love these photos done this way! Once the tiles are fully dry, use a shadow box type frame for the tiles. I normally buy mine at Michaels...the kind with the black velvet background when they're on sale and I have a coupon ;) I use E6000 glue to adhere the tiles to the velvet and place something heavy on top of the tiles to hold them down. (This is why it's important to let the photo completely dry before going on to this step.) I've tried letting them dry on their own and the glue and tiles are happiest with a book on top until the glue dries....it squishes the glue into all the spaces on the back of the tile. I've made 3 or 4 of these (including a sonogram photo for my daughter) and as long as I don't rush the drying time, no problem! They hang on the wall beautifully without any worries about the tiles coming unglued.  These can be made in a day including overnight drying time if you start first thing in the morning and are careful. So they would also make a great (and I'm told very impressive) last minute gift for someone special.
This is one I've started for one of my nieces. She introduced us to our rescue, Penny, who is an absolute joy to have around and I thought it would make a great thank you. 
Those are her dogs and she does some incredible agility training with them. She also works at a vet's office as a tech and does animal rehab work as well!
I should have both of these framed tomorrow and will try to remember to post pictures of the finished projects then.
Here's the very first one I tried. I made it as a surprise for my husband on his birthday several years ago. It's a photo of the clock tower at Clemson that I took on one of our many trips up there. (He's a die hard Clemson fan.) The only difference between this first one and the ones after is I figured out that I didn't have to go through all of the trouble of tissue paper fighting with my printer...regular printer paper works just fine. The original directions using tissue paper can be found on instructables.com. The tissue paper is a BEAR to get through the printer. You need to add double stick tape to the tissue paper, stick it to the printer and pray really hard that nothing goes wrong. If the tissue isn't taped down absolutely correctly, it will tear and lead to many curse words being uttered!