I have a stack of canvas and stretcher bars in my basement that I bought back in college. I've been meaning to do something with them, and have been looking for a good tutorial on how to transfer photos to canvas. Most of the tutorials I found required special materials I don't normally have laying around the house (and will never use again), or needed an image printed on tissue paper. Printing on tissue paper wasn't the kind of living-on-the-edge experience I wanted to try, especially since I just got a new printer that actually seems to like me! (More about my love/hate relationship with my old printer here.) Then I realized that I also have a bunch of iron-on transfer paper. Canvas is fabric, right?
Ink Jet Printer
I opted to use dark transfer paper this time around, but I'm sure this would work equally well with regular transfer paper. (I'll let you know when I try it.) *** Update - see the canvases I made using regular transfer paper here.*** Read all directions that come with your paper carefully before starting!
I started by printing a photo (this one was taken with my phone using the free Retro Camera app for Android) directly onto transfer paper. My printer can print borderless prints, so after trimming I ended up with an 8½ x 8½ inch print. I used 9 inch stretcher bars, but 8 inch bars should give you similar results if your printer doesn't do borderless prints.
Lay a towel or pillowcase on a wooden cutting board or other solid heat-proof surface. Peel the backing off your printed image (if using dark transfer paper) and lay it on the canvas. Cover it with a piece of parchment paper (comes with the transfer paper), and iron for 3 minutes.
Let it cool for 2 minutes before slowly peeling off the parchment paper. If any of the image peels up with the paper, lay it back down and iron a little bit longer.
Once the image is transferred to the canvas, put together the frame. Wrap the canvas around the frame centering the image on front, then flip it over and start stapling.
Staple the canvas to the back of the frame, pulling it taut as you go.
Do the corners last, wrapping the fabric around the edge and laying it as flat as possible on the back.
Trim any excess fabric on the back. I went a little overboard with staples. One every 2-3 inches should be plenty!
I used a 9x9 inch frame which left a white border around my 8½ inch print. Since the decorative edge on my photo was the same color as the canvas, I just left it to blend in with the border. If you prefer, use a smaller frame or acrylic paint to hide the edges.
Go over the entire canvas with a couple coats of Mod Podge. Not entirely necessary, but it dries clear adding brush strokes to your "painting" and a giving it a protective coating.
Hang it up and enjoy! This was so quick and easy I'm already planning to make a bunch more...