Artwork from a Ship, a Tile and a Quote

Hello! It’s Rachel from Architecture of a Mom and I’m back again with another frugal way to decorate your house–this time, with a tile! The past couple of weeks, I have been working on transforming my mantel from my Patriotic Mantel to a more neutral summer mantel. I wanted a large statement piece of art, but those pieces can cost a lot of money!
But lucky for me, I work as an architect, and I can often get building material samples for free. But what does one do with a large, 12″x24″ tile? Why, you make art from it!

This piece of tile was made to look like natural stone, and had two distinct “strata.” For some reason, it made me think of a cliff going down to the sea…inspiration!

I recently was introduced to this quote from William G.T Shedd: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for,” and I’ve fallen in love with that sentiment.

So here’s what I used to make this artwork:
Large format tile (12″x24″)
Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
Image of a Ship (printed with a laser printer)
Gloss Mod Podge
Navy Blue Paint
Vinyl Letters (I used my Silhouette Portrait to cut mine out, but you can use premade letter decals, too!
First, I found this vintage ship graphic from The Graphics Fairy, and I printed it out on a laser printer and trimmed every bit of white I could out. If you use inkjet, the print may smear in the next step.
Put a thick coat of photo transfer medium on the face of the image and turn it over onto the tile. Tap gently to remove all bubbles and make sure the image is adhered to the tile. Wait at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours, dampen the entire image and then gently rub off the paper fibers. You will have your image, reverse transferred onto the tile.
Then mix the gloss Mod Podge and paint together. I mixed about 3 parts of Mod Podge to 1 part paint, so that I would have a glossy yet translucent tint to the blue. I then painted little waves all over the bottom “strata” of the tile. To paint waves, make little “x”s that overlap. Practice until you get a look you like!
Allow paint mixture to dry. This coat will be very delicate, so be careful as you apply the vinyl  letters of your quote.
And that’s it!
Do you want to know how I create the rest of my summer mantel? You’ll have to swing by my blog later this month and find out! (Honestly, as I write this, I’ve got one more project to do, and I am super excited about it!) I would love it if you came by and visit me at Architecture of a Mom or at these social media locations:


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And thanks, Carrie, for letting me join your blog today!
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Rachel Joyce (9 Posts)

Hi! I'm Rachel! I work full time as an architect outside the home, and full time as a wife and mom to 3 girls (including twin preschoolers!) inside the home. I love design in all forms, and I regularly cook, craft, and DIY my way to sanity at Architecture of a Mom. If you love inexpensive creativity then you need to check out the architecture of this mom! Blog/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter


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