Gel Medium Photo Transfer Work #1: Damn you Gel Medium!

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Blog entry by 7Footer posted 12-28-2013 02:10 AM 2389 reads 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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For several months now I’ve been fooling around with transferring photos onto wood using gel medium, I started out with some old growth fir I had lying around the shop… Made several attempts and just couldn’t get anything I was real happy with, albeit I think part of it was just me being too anal about getting the picture to look perfect. I have several pics of the first few attempts I did with gel medium but not here at the moment, I got a new phone last month so the old pics are on my old phone.

Anyway that was about 6 months ago when I started experimenting with it, fast forward to now and I decided to make a couple of these for family members for Christmas presents, and out of at least 8 attempts I was only able to get 2 that I was happy with. Its so strange to me, I’ve come to realize that the pics aren’t going to be absolutely perfect but I am getting better.

I ended up switching from gel medium to fluid medium and I think that I am liking the results with the fluid medium better. My process is to cut the wood to shape, plane and sand with 60, 180 and 200 grit sandpaper, then apply the medium and picture, let dry for several hours (usually overnight at least) and then wet it down and remove the paper.

First one right after wetting it down before rubbing the paper off:

First run of rubbing of the paper:

Final products:

I was real bummed I didn’t finish this one in time for Christmas, it was for my cousin who was recently separated from her finance and now she basically has joint custody of her dogs which she just loves to death. But the very weird part of this one is that the spot in the middle picture that the picture rubbed off of—well it rubbed off in almost the exact same spot as the first attempt, and I planed and sanded so I can’t imagine their being something in the wood but who knows, stranger things have happened.
I am going to keep trying this one until I get it right though.
Here’s my first attempt (of course after the pics were edited and had them just how I Wanted):

This is after the 2nd attempt when I had to re-print the pics here at home and have the nice edited copies I’d made at work, like I mentioned the pic rubbed off in the same spot, I find that so weird, I almost got it done, this one was done on christmas eve, and only dried for about 2 hours, I applied the medium then took it upstairs and set it in from of the heater and I really didn’t think it was going to work at all but it did pretty well for only having dried for 2 hours:

These are all done on pine.


5 comments so far

View brianadams's profile


183 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 12-28-2013 03:13 AM

Wow. Those turned out as perfect as I could imagine! Maybe in person I would be able to spot a flaw but from these I cant! Those are just too impressive man. Very nice.


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30637 posts in 3550 days

#2 posted 12-28-2013 10:56 AM

Very awesome

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5147 days

#3 posted 12-28-2013 02:00 PM

They look pretty good from here. Have you tried doing any any transfers via heat? Steve Ramsey recently had a post on his blog or Facebook about and there are a few videos on Youtube in regards to it.
The only major trick is to have a access to a Laser Printer and an Iron.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View 7Footer's profile


2575 posts in 3160 days

#4 posted 12-28-2013 05:47 PM

Thanks guys! I saw Jay’s video about it but haven’t seen Steve’s, I’ll have to check it out.. I love labeling my projects, you need a laser printer for the gel medium transfers too but it takes so much time, the heat transfer would be my preference because it’s the least messy and it’s quick.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4546 days

#5 posted 12-29-2013 10:18 AM

Those look pretty darn good. I am planning to try a transfer with gel medium (which I have on hand) sometime. I have also seen transfers done with a soldering iron type of tool with an attached end that looks like an upside down bar stool. I saw one demonstrated on a youtube video and it seemed to work very well too. I have tried a transfer using the wife’s iron, but it came out very faded. Maybe others have better luck with that method.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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