One of the coolest ways to remember a great event is to have a visual reminder. So when a bunch of mates decided to head away for the Australia Day long weekend, I figured we needed some plaques to commemorate the run. Being a creative kinda dude, I had a go at making some myself, and they came up alright.
The first step was the design itself. The original design was done in Publisher. However the more I looked at it, it was just too clinical and perfect. So using an overhead projector as a lightbox, I traced the entire design and redrew it texta, which gave it a much nicer imperfect hand drawn look. Sure designing them on a computer might be cheating, but it worked for me.
Once the design was redrawn, it was photocopied multiple times in reverse. I then used a process referred to as photo transferring, using gel medium. There’s plenty of tutorials online as well as youtube vids like this one. You can find gel medium at decent art shops, and use the technique on timber, canvas, basically any flat surface.
The gel medium is brushed onto both the timber as well as the front of the paper. I tried to get a nice even coverage on both surfaces, before laying the paper face down on the timber.
I then brushed the paper smooth, using something rigid like a card or ruler. Let it dry for 24 hours.
Using a damp washer, I brushed down the paper. You want the paper to go transparent, but not get too water logged.
Using my fingers, I scrubbed the paper off, revealing the design underneath. I needed to go back over the design multiple times to get all the paper off.
Here is what it looked like with all of the paper removed.
I wanted to give the plaques a weathered look, so I gave them a light sand to weather them down a little.
Following that, I distressed the timber using a few different tools like a screwdriver, hammer and a few other items. I then went over the plaque with a black wash of diluted paint. This picks up all the scratches and dents in the timber. The pic below shows it compared to the natural pine timber. The final step was covering the whole thing in a matte finish varnish. This protects the design but keeps it looking properly weathered.
A close up shot showing the texture.
And the finished plaques all lined up.