I fell in love with the Typography line at Target, especially the numbers tray.  I knew exactly how I would create my knock off:  using gel medium to transfer the numbers!  Read on to learn how quick and easy this process is!

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This is the tray I saw at Target.    I embarrassed my oldest son by whipping out my camera to take pictures of several items in the line.  Every time I do that he whines “WHAT are you doing?”  Ha!  Hey, kid, I can’t help when inspiration strikes!

Here is my knock off.  Pretty close, right?  Would you believe I didn’t paint any of the numbers?

Several months ago I read about gel medium transfer.  I ran out to the craft store to buy some gel medium, along with some scraps of wood, to practice the technique.  It really is pretty simple, but if you are trying to transfer a photograph it takes some practice.  I have found that I like to use the technique with vintage images because it gives the appearance of something being well worn and aged, without having to do all the distressing you would with paint.  That’s why I thought it would be the perfect technique for this project.
 I started with a wood tray I had purchased at Goodwill previously for about $3.  It was a very bright turquoise color, so it took several layers of white chalkboard paint to cover it.  Acrylic paint would work, too, I just had a bunch of white chalkboard paint so I grabbed that.
Next, I cut my numbers out using my Silhouette.  I used black and red scrapbook paper from one of Jenni Bowlin’s paper packs.  I put the paper color side down on the cutting mat (see picture above).
Next, I coated each number on the colored side with gel medium.  You want a thick coat.  I intentionally put less in some places so that the image would not transfer, since I was looking for a distressed look.  I then adhered the number, colored side down, onto the tray and smoothed it down.  Try to wipe away any excess gel that squeezes out.

Once the tray was covered I let it dry overnight.  As you can see, the numbers all have the back of the paper (white side) showing, and the colored side “glued” down with the gel medium.

Here’s the fun part!  Wet a wash cloth and gently start to rub on each number.  The paper will peel away, but the ink is left in the gel medium on the wood tray.  Almost like magic.  🙂

Apply more pressure to wear more color away as desired, but don’t rub too hard or you might take the whole thing off!

I kept a spray bottle with water next to me so I could mist my wash cloth and continue.

Here it is after all the “paper peeling” has been done.  Kind of messy.  I use a dry cloth to wipe the mess away.

Here is a close up of the numbers.  I love that they look painted on and aged, even though I didn’t paint or distress a thing!

As a final step, I mixed a few drops of alcohol ink with Mod Podge to seal my project.  I wanted a matte finish, and I wanted my tray to look “old” (the white was too clean looking), and this is another trick I like to use.  After I mix the Mod Podge and ink (I used Ranger Ink’s Caramel) to the color I like, I brush it on, more in some places than others, to get a streaky “dirty” look.

I absolutely love my new tray and can’t wait to use it!  This may not have been a very fast tutorial, but I hope you’ll agree that it is frugal and looks fabulous!  Who doesn’t love a good knock off?

To learn how to use this technique to transfer vintage images, please visit this post.

28 COMMENTS

  1. This tray is Awesome and the tutorial is very good, I will certainly try it very soon. Thank you for sharing such a great project, it looks wonderful.

  2. great ink tip with the mod podge! i have mixed glaze with it, but not ink. i will have to try that! your newest follower

  3. oh my goodness, i love this!! isn’t image transfer fun? great job. this turned out fabulous!

  4. Very Cute project. Turned out great and looks so much like that one from Target. You did a fabulous job recreating it.

  5. I love that you die cut numbers from scrapbook paper for your gel transfer. I had not thought of doing that. I love gel transfer, but always use a laser jet print of the design I want to transfer. This is great for scrap busting and when I don’t want to run out and grab a laser print. I also love the alcohol ink mod podge trick. Very cool.

    Johnnie
    Printable Decor
    Saved By Love Creations
    Decor 2 Adore{able}

  6. I want to try this technique. I have the gel medium and a workshop full of wood and several great pictures. You would think I could get it together! Thanks for your inspiration.

  7. How is it possible that the transferred numbers aren’t backwards on the tray?? Did I miss something? Seems you would need to start with a reversed design in order to have the ink side transfer properly.
    Cute idea though!

  8. I should have been more clear…sorry! Yes, the numbers will need to be reversed. I just cut the numbers with the white side of the paper up (see the picture) so I wouldn’t have to fool with reversing my image. 🙂

  9. Great project! You’re right on about using this technique to get the “aged look” without having to try to age it/distress it later.

  10. Please can you let me know where to get this tray. I have been searching for this for some time, I need this size 18 x 24 in unfinished wood. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • I believe the one I used is from Ikea. Their online store shows the KLACK tray measures 15 x 23. Have you checked Michaels or Hobby Lobby? HL shows a 16 x 24 inch tray on their site. Hope that helps!

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