Vellum Photo Candle Holders

I've seen quite a few projects that used vellum to create luminaries or candles holders or lanterns with printed photos on them.  A long while back, I picked up an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of vellum at the local Michael's figuring I'd get around to making something with it eventually.  Well cue eventually.  This week I printed a set of photos of my family onto the vellum to make some candle holders.

I opted to use Word to make my print outs because it has a feature where I can easily see how big in inches (not in pixels) my photos are and it doesn't alter them from that measurement when you go to print it (as has been the case with some photo printing programs).  I measured my candle holders which ended up being about 10 inches in circumference and about 3.5 inches from the lip on the bottom to the top edge.  I made my photos 3.6 inches because I'd rather they be a bit large and need to be trimmed than not be big enough to go all the way to the top edge.  I put the document in landscape setting and imported 6 photos (3 in each strip) that were 3.6 inches tall and approximately 10 inches total (the document was set with 1/2 inch margins). I set the photos to the sepia tone that's set in Word (it's just a bit warmer than the black and white in Word).  There was just enough room for the photos I needed--no margin for error.  So I decided to do a bit of research about printing on vellum with an ink jet printer since I'd only have one shot at it.  It turns out it doesn't always work so easily.  My printer doesn't have a vellum setting (first choice), or a transparency setting (the second choice), but it did have an option to print a fast or draft print (third choice) that uses less ink since the vellum doesn't soak the ink up. So I set it to fast and hoped for the best.

When I printed it out, the vellum immediately rolled up, so I had to grab for it as it came out of the printer. Which means I smudged it in a couple of places.  No panicking yet though, it still looked pretty good.  I let it dry for about an hour before I proceeded.

After the vellum had dried, I set out my candle holders, a paper plate (to set anything that gets full of glue on), a foam brush, a scissors, and my mod podge.  I cut the photo strips out and checked to see if they needed to be trimmed.  They were a little taller than they needed to be (as planned), so I trimmed them a bit so that I wouldn't be cutting off any heads later.

After the strips were cut out, I painted some mod podge onto my candle holder and carefully placed the strip of vellum onto the glue.  I gently pressed the vellum down into the glue and made sure that it was sticking.  I continued gluing all the way around the candle holder in sections and carefully pressed the vellum into the glue and smoothed it out.

Even after letting the vellum dry for over an hour, I still had inky fingers after smoothing the vellum out onto the surface of the candle holder.  It looked like I had just read the Sunday paper. So I left the candle holders overnight to dry to make sure that all of the bubbles had smoothed out and the ink had a chance to really set.

I was left with a bit of an overhang of paper, so I trimmed carefully along the top edge of the candle holder. Then the next day, I put a coat of mod podge over the entire surface of the candle holder to seal the vellum in place and make it a smidge more transparent.

Things I learned from this project: 
  • Apparently there is special printable vellum that you can buy at office supply stores, you may get a better print out on that paper than the kind you buy at the craft store.  
  • Your image will not come out crisp, it will be sort of an impression of the image instead.
  • Vellum doesn't soak up much of anything, including the Mod Podge, so be sure to use a good layer of it when you stick it to the glass so that it adheres well, and so that you don't' end up with any streaky places where it's slightly more transparent in one spot and a little less in places where there wasn't enough glue.

Other than all of that, it's pretty easy, and I look forward to trying out more projects with vellum in the future.


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