Antiqued Photo Collage on Canvas

collage closeup

We visited my husband’s work a few weeks ago. It’s one of those office buildings where everyone’s cubicles are out in the open.  I happened to notice that most of the other cubicles had lots of family photos, while his had not a one.  Decorating is not one of those things that is really on his mind.  So, just before his birthday, inspired by a tutorial I’d seen on The Sassy Pepper (where she’d pasted family photos on canvas and slightly antiqued the edges), I had an epiphany.  I decided I would make Kevin a collage full of photos of his family and all the fabulous places we’ve traveled, to inspire him on those long work days.  This gave me exactly one day to finish this project, which ended up being very ambitious but doable.

I really went for it with the antique look because that is one of my husband’s favorites. Taking our pictures into IPhoto and applying an antiquing filter was fun, and I became slightly obsessed.  What took a very long time was my insistence that there be a lot of photos on the canvas.  See the 18×20 canvas fit thirteen 4×6 photos, but I wanted more pictures than that.  Since I was working with one hour photo, 4×6 or 5×7 were my only choices in photo size.  So,  Photoshop to the rescue.  I opened a 4×6 canvas in Photoshop and placed two images on it- 4×3 each.  This way they were saved as one photo with two images on it.

collage 4x6 explanation

how photos were split & cut

The bottom row was different: the pictures were placed vertically on the 4×6 instead of horizontal.  There was an odd number of spaces so I ended up with one extra.  Also one photo was slightly smaller than the others.

collage vertical 4x6

In total, it fit 27 photos on the canvas. Time consuming.  If you don’t care about the smaller look, go with bigger & less photos!

At the store, I ordered my images as 4×6 prints.  As soon as I got home, I cut them in half with scissors.

Next, I took a dry sponge, dipped it in burnt sienna, black, & burnt umber artist’s paint, and dabbed around the edges of each photo.  If you use a liquid craft paint, you may have to wipe the sponge on a paper towel after dipping it in paint to keep it dry enough. On the photos with a lot of black I really had at it with the paint, dabbing all over the darker area to make it look worn and faded.

collage antiqued

antiqued photo with a lot of black

I bought super cheap canvases at Michaels.  They were on sale two for five dollars.  And let me tell you- I would never use them for painting.  They aren’t pulled tight enough & had a bump or two in the gesso.  But they suited craft purposes just fine.

This project allowed me to meet a new acquaintance: someone whose name I’ve been hearing in certain circles for years, but never had the pleasure of working with myself.  Yes, you guessed it: Modge Podge.  Modge Podge and I got along quite well.  First I used it to attach a strip of pretty paper along the sides of the canvas (cut the paper a little smaller than the edges of the canvas.)  Then, I coated the section of the canvas where I would be placing a photo- Modge Podged the back of the photo and stuck it in place. On to the next photo…  After I had attached all the photos to the canvas this way, I took my sponge and did some touch up between the photos with paint.  I also painted the sides of the canvas- filling in any gap between the paper and the photos and almost covering all the paper.

 edge of antiqued canvas

edge of antiqued collage

Last, but not least, I applied a layer of Modge Podge on top.  This made me rather nervous, as it was milky & liquidy.  Would it ruin my photos?  No, thank goodness it did not.  Actually it gave them a matte look that really suited the old-fashioned look of the project.

brushing on modge podge

brushing on modge podge

I made sure to Modge Podge the sides of the canvas, too. Let it dry. And then, all done!  Some of the photos of the West, and France looked a hundred years old!

collage on easel

collage waiting on easel to be taken to work!

I love staring at it.  It seems like there is always something more to see.  And it looks  really cool from a distance.  Now that it’s gone to work, I miss it. Did I mention my husband loves it, too?  He insisted I blog about it (wonderfully supportive, I know). This was such a fun project & I have some extra photos and an extra canvas, so there might be one for our home happening soon!

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