Gel Transfer Popsicle Stick Puzzle (A Tutorial)

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

A jar of soft gel medium and a few jumbo popsicle sticks = a photo puzzle! I made this one for Mr. Lil Blue Boo for Father’s Day:

Valentine Photo Puzzle - popsicle sticks

With holes drilled in the top, all the pieces are kept together with a piece of hemp twine:

Valentine Photo Puzzle - popsicle sticks

The three key materials to making this puzzle are:
Soft Gel Medium (you can purchase this at your craft store in the oil and acrylic paint section…..I use Golden brand but Liquitex also makes it)
Jumbo Popsicle Sticks (slightly wider and thicker than regular popsicle sticks)
A photocopy or laser jet-printed image

I picked up these “jumbo” mini sticks at a dollar/99 cent store:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 1: Print off your image in reverse using a laser printer or photo copy onto regular paper. It must be a dry toner ink….ink jet will not transfer correctly.

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 2: Put double sided tape down onto a piece of paper and placed the sticks side-by-side onto the tape until they are wider than your image:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 3: Brush a thick coat of soft gel medium across the sticks covering them completely:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 4: Place the image face down onto the gel and smooth/burnish the paper to make sure there are no air bubbles:


Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 5: Once the gel has time to dry completely (about 20 minutes), wet the back of the paper with water:


Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via


Step 6: Use your fingers to peel off the paper:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Carefully rub the paper until it is all removed completely leaving the image behind:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 7: Use a razor or knife to carefully split the sticks apart…….

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

……and fine sand paper to remove any excess gel from the edges:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 8: Using a household drill, add holes to the end of each stick:

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via

Step 9: Spray the front and back of the sticks with  a few coats of clear varnish:


Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via


Use a thick twine or leather cord to tie the pieces of the puzzle together. You can add a small card for a special occasion!

Easy photo project: Gel Transfer Puzzle via





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About Ashley Hackshaw

Living a simple, creative life in #smalltownusa Bryson City, NC. Renovating a 1960s ranch house and an old train depot. Thank you for reading! Read more in my about section. 


  1. 1

    Yes! Love it. Another reason I need to by the medium. Great tutorials as always Ashley.

  2. 2
    Meredith Klobucnik says:

    Super cool! He is going to love it!

  3. 3
    Michelle says:

    Super cute! LOVE it!

    Do you wet the back with water or the gel?

  4. 5

    Love it! Is it just regular paper? Thanks!

  5. 6

    What a cute idea! Any Dad would love this and would love putting it together with the kiddo!

  6. 7

    This is such a great idea! I’ve never used soft gel medium. Is it like Mod Podge? Could you use that?

  7. 8

    This is such a wonderful idea, love it! There are so many possibilities with this, thanks for sharing!

  8. 9

    I LOOOOVE this! Definitely need to make a few of these for Father’s Day. My kids would be so excited if I made some for them too.

  9. 10

    Too cute! I love this idea!!

  10. 11

    Bellisimo! è un gel magico, grazie!

  11. 12

    what a cute idea!

  12. 13

    What a great idea! I forwarded a link to my daughters teacher….could be a really great fathers day gift to make in class…minus the drill and clear laquer. Wondering if I could possibly just have the kids modpodge a light coat on top to seal and then maybe use a little jar or a tomato paste sized can to put them in…Anyway, love the idea! Fabulous!! Thanks for sharing!

    • 14

      You could even just have them cut a photo and mod podge it straight to the stick!

  13. 15
    Michelle says:

    Fantastic idea! The only thing I might do differently is to drill the holes in the sticks before starting anything else…that way if I mess up the hole or break the stick, I won’t have to redo the transfer all over again…

    • 16

      What a grand creative idea. Thank you so much for sharing it! I love this and will be making a number of these for gifts!

  14. 17

    I wonder if you could tell me what you mean by dry toner and not ink jet? Do you mean to print it off on my printer and then copy it on a cop machine????

  15. 19

    OH! You’re good! LOVE this idea! I need to get working on this pronto! thx for sharing!

    • 20
      faranak says:

      that’s awsome :X unfortunately i can’t find gel medium in my country, could u plz explain more about it ? what kind of glue is that ? or can i use sth else instead of it ? plz help me

  16. 21

    This is such a great idea! Thank you for sharing!

  17. 22

    Is there another name for the Golden soft Gel Medium. At Hobby Lobby no one could help me find that exact name so I wonder if there is another name that it goes by. Thank you for the great idea! Smiles, Sarah

  18. 23

    Adorable!! I think I can actually pull this off in the next couple days. :) I have Golden Regular Gel Medium — does it have to be the Soft Gel? Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas!

  19. 24

    Could you have used CitraSolv for this project?

  20. 25

    Love this idea! Could you use a color copy or does it have to be black and white?

  21. 26
    Abinat lovely abe says:

    It is so beauty & important application. I like it, but i can use it wel. B/cause, i can’t add my photos & can’t log in with facebook. If this solved i think it wil be more …

  22. 27

    Question! Peeling off the paper is not as easy as you make it look. I am pulling off part of the transfer as I keep trying to get it clean. Ideas??


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