Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ghost Sign Table ..... finally

If after 7 times you don't succeed,
try another method.

Has anyone else felt woefully inadequate after following a tutorial TO THE LETTER only to fail miserably? Transfers are the thorn in my particular side. I can do an inkjet transfer onto painted wood if it is black only. Transfer onto glass? HAHAHAHAHA snort. I follow the tutorial like my life depends on it but fail every time. I've tried over and over. I really, really want to transfer onto glass.

I also want to do color transfers onto painted wood. I was feeling lucky, I guess, because I gave it a go. On a larger piece of furniture I would hand paint the sign but since this little table is going on etsy I did a transfer to keep the price point down. 

Here are some of my attempts. Need I say it wasn't working? I used Mod Podge. I used water. I used Gel Medium. I used Elmers.
'Cranky' pretty much sums it up.

Geez. I threw in the towel and decided to try an iron-on transfer. Nothing else was working, right? To my surprise the iron-on method worked - after 2 tries.

Here's how I did it.

I used Epson Tee Shirt Iron-On Transfers. 

I reversed the image and printed two transfers - the left side and the right side since the image was
16 x 11 or so. 

I trimmed the transfers so they butted up together into one continuous image. I positioned the transfers on the table and made little pencil marks to mark
where they went.

Then I sprayed the surface of the table with water and put the left transfer down. (This is the do-or-die step. Too much water makes a mess, too little water does nothing at all. I strongly suggest you do a practice piece to get a feel for how much water to spray.) With the transfer face down on the water I covered it with a towel (I found a towel works best. Pillowcases or other fabric is too thin) and ironed according to the package directions. I waited a minute or so then peeled back the transfer. You can't let it get too cold before you pull it off as it becomes
quite difficult.

The same steps were repeated for the right side of the image. After spraying water I used the pencil marks to get the transfer paper lined up to the first transfer. Covered it with a towel and ironed.

It didn't come out perfect and I didn't want it too. However there were holes that were just too big, so I simply painted the image back in those areas.

The transferred image felt rough so I did 3 or 4 coats of poly until it felt smooth.

And that was it.

I have a little ghost sign table at last! The image is from a photo I took of a building near where I live. I love ghost signs and hope enough others feel the same way so these historic works of art are preserved.

I used Annie Sloan Arles with a glaze made of brown paint and water. I used clear wax over that. 

I decided against distressing the table since the glaze and the graphic were rustic enough.

My little table!

I'm already working on Table #2 and I'm skipping right to the iron-on method.

Linking up. Please visit these creative people!
coastal charm
my uncommon slice of suburbia
tip junkie
the girl creative
mod vintage life


  1. Oh my goodness....absolutely amazing table! I LOVE ghost signs as well, they are all over my small town. I already have a love for unique hand painted furniture and when you throw in ghost signs...well, it's just perfection. Wonderful job and way to stick with it through all the trial & error :)

  2. This is amazing! I love the look.

  3. i love it, if i lived closer i would love to by it.

  4. Totally charming, and I love that it is a way to pay homage to historic ghost signs! I love them, too.
    Great job!

  5. Are you going to share the details of the iron-on method?? Love the table!

  6. I love how your table turned out, and I too am curious about the iron on method. :)
    thanks for sharing at catch as catch can.

  7. I just checked out your booth today, I love this little table. I mean love it. You did a great job, im your new follower here and on facebook, Im mindy from Pretty in Paint :)

  8. I don't know if I heard of ghost signs before, but with what you have done I so love the look. Your table is very pretty, and you did a really great job. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration at Sunday's Best.

  9. I love this and I just became your 100th follower. Please check out my blog. http://sister-number-5.blogspot.com

  10. Oh em gee, I love this table. I'm so glad you kept going w/the transfer. Me? I woulda been done after attempt #1. Me and painting furniture do NOT get along. When I see cute posts like yours I get all riled up and ready to give it another go. Usually. Today I'm content to just pin your l'il table :)

  11. Love the look and the name of your 'ghost sign' table! Would love more details about the iron on method. Starting all the way from how you printed the picture and size of it...Thanks Coreen

  12. Dang, you're persistent! Your table turned out amazing!! LOVE YOUR TRANSFER!!! I would have given up long before that, but yours turned out so cool!

  13. I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one who has difficulty with transfers. Love this table you did a great job.

  14. What a wonderful table! I'm just getting back into blogging after several months and had not heard of ghost signs. I absolutely love your table and it has me fired up to find some ghost signs of my own! I live in the town where Cone Mills (denim) and Vicks Vaporub started. There are so many abandoned textile mills around (and they are beautiful old brick buildings) Thanks for the inspiration! I have long thought about taking pictures of them - now I will!

  15. Super Cute!!!!
    I love the photo of the ghost sign!!!!
    Good for you for preserving the sign in this manner!

  16. You ARE dedicated, aren't you? It was well worth your efforts on this because it looks fabulous! I have to be honest, I never heard of a ghost sign before and had to look it up. LOL! Glad I was able to get 2 lessons today!