Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Craft Project: JOY Photo Collage

joy photo collage holiday craft project
Happy Holidays! I just finished up a holiday craft project that was a lot of fun to put together. It came about after I organized all my Christmas pictures which I've been planning to make into a Christmas scrapbook *someday*. Who knows when that day will come, and I had such a great time going down memory lane while organizing them that I wanted to do something now to display them during the holidays. But I had so many pictures and couldn't decide which ones to display, so I figured, why not display them all in a collage? Then they're out for the entire season for everyone to see instead of stuck in a book that rarely gets looked at.

My nieces were here over the weekend and helped me with this project. We went to the craft store (they love that place!) and they picked out the ribbon and trim themselves. They loved looking at all the pictures and finding themselves sprinkled throughout the collage.

For the letters, I had initially bought black letters thinking that it would make this project look more modern, but when I added them to the collage, it looked a little too somber with all the black, so I painted them with a vanilla white craft paint and topped it with "sugar cube" glitter paint from Martha Stewart. You can't really tell in this picture, but the letters are glittery! Yes, I just exclamation-pointed "glittery"!! How can you not? It's subtle, but sparkly.

Here are the supplies I used to make this project:
  • Photos. Lots. I used Christmas photos from the time our son was born 18 Christmases ago 'til now, and even a few from before that. As part of my photo organization project, I had scanned the older pictures from prior to the digital era and now have them all filed neatly in online folders. See more info on pictures below. 
  • Monogrammed wooden or cardboard letters from craft store - you can spell out anything you want. Since JOY is one of my favorite words in the English dictionary, naturally I went with that. "Noel" would be nice, or your family last name if it's not too long, or even just an initial if you wanted to scale this down.
  • Plywood board big enough for your letters plus enough room around them for your pictures. My hubby helped me cut a thinner piece of luan plywood for this project. I used 1/4" thick plywood, and I kind of wish I went with something a little thicker for more bulk. You can go horizontal or vertical. I didn't have the space for a large horizontal collage, so I went vertical. 
  • Mod Podge - I used the matte.
  • Paint if you want to paint the letters, and a paint brush.
  • Fabric trim for around the edges, or you can paint the edge a contrasting color instead. 
  • Ribbon for the top bow. I bought a pre-made Christmas bow but you can make your own if you're so inclined.
  • Hot glue gun.
Print your pictures on regular printer paper. I chose to do black and white, but you can do color if you want. Don't bother using expensive photo paper. To get the pictures the size I wanted, I added all the pictures to a Word document, sized them as I went, and printed them all at one time in black/grayscale. You can get quite a few pictures on one piece of paper.

Now cut out all your pictures. Trim them neatly since you will see the finished edges in your collage, but don't get too obsessed or fancy. Neat is good 'nuf.

If you want to paint your letters, paint them and allow to dry. As I mentioned above, I initially bought black letters because I thought that would give it a more modern look, but changed my mind and painted them AFTER I glued them on, so I had to be really careful about painting the letters to avoid paint splatters on the collage. And I didn't even try to paint the sides of the letters, just the top. I wish I would have thought to paint them before I glued them down because I'd prefer the sides painted, but I don't mind the black sides with white sparkly top. It all worked out. Here's a close up of the glittered up letter since you really can't see the effect on the large pic. It's a subtle sparkle:
joy photo collage holiday craft project

Below, my nieces are helping Aunty out with this project. Aren't they the cutest?!? They're 12 and 10 and are so fun to hang around with. In this picture, you can see the letters are still black, before I decided to paint them. We actually considered putting white polka dots on the letters to brighten it up (you can see one on the Y), but it was really busy with all the pictures and I ended up painting them white instead. I think if you did a smaller collage with just one monogrammed letter, the black would still look really good, but in this big project with several letters, it just seemed too dark for a festive Christmas decoration. 
joy photo collage holiday craft project

Okay, back to the project - Find the center of your plywood and lay out the letters, spacing them evenly in a way that looks good to you. You can see in picture #1 below that I found the center with a ruler, marked it with a pencil, and placed the O smack dab in the center, then spaced the other letters from that. Actually, I'm not sure you can see the pencil lines so well, I hope you can. Next, I traced the letters onto the plywood just to give me a reference of where they would be. I didn't want to put pictures where it would get covered by a letter.
joy photo collage holiday craft project

In picture #2 above, I laid out my photos where I wanted them to be. I didn't glue them down yet, just did a dry run as a general reference of where I wanted the pictures to be. Starting in one corner, I started gluing one picture at a time by using Mod Podge and brushing a good amount of it on the back of each photo with a paint brush. Carefully place the photo on the board where you want it to be. Once you lay a picture down, it's difficult to move it without tearing it, so take your time to position it and smooth it out and press out any air bubbles. This takes awhile, so pull up a chair, turn on whatever season of Downton Abbey you're watching, and go at it. As you add pictures, you'll find your dry run pattern getting messed up a little, but continue to glue and overlap edges slightly and adjust as you go along. It all manages to work itself out just fine.

As you're gluing along, avoid putting pictures too far inside your letter lines. I wasn't exact, and as a matter of fact, it looked better to overlap the pictures inside the lines a little so you don't see raw board peeking through once you put your letters on. Just don't put Great Aunt Sue's head inside the letter so it appears that there is a body without a head in your collage.

Once you have all your pictures glued down, let dry for about an hour. Trim any pictures that are sticking out over the edges if you haven't done that already. Then coat the whole thing evenly with Mod Podge. I was a little concerned about the ink from my printer smearing my pictures with the topcoat, so I tested it first. It didn't smear at all but I suggest you test yours first since our printer inks might be different. Let the topcoat dry, then add another coat of Mod Podge and let dry.

Glue your letters onto the board with a hot glue gun. Since you probably covered up a lot of your lines, just play around with the letters until they look right and hot glue them right onto the board. If you notice some plywood peeking through even after you put your letters on, you might want to take a black sharpie and cover that up. The black disappears into the background with all the other pictures, but the plywood color kind of sticks out.

Add trim around the edges using a hot glue gun, or paint the edge if you aren't going to use a trim. Here's a close up of the red trim. I think it gives it pizzazz:
joy photo collage holiday craft project

Now add your bow at the top (I hot glued the ends onto the back). I also lopped off the tails and glued them to the bottom too which you can see in the #3 picture above. (update 12/3/12: don't try hanging this board off the bow, that's just decorative. I added a picture hanging hook to the back of the board to hang it from).

And that's it! This project wasn't expensive since I had some of the supplies already on hand, so for the cost of the letters (used my Hobby Lobby coupon!), plywood, trim, and bow, we now have something we can hang each year during the holidays that reminds of Christmases past. Once Christmas is over, I'm totally going to make a smaller one with our last name initial in a square to hang year round!
joy photo collage holiday craft project

Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy! Fa la la la!

Sorry about the somewhat dark pictures. It's hard to take a good picture of a black and white photo project on a rainy Seattle day. Even in the middle of the day with all my lights on, it's still dreary! I'm ready for some warm sunshine-y weather now!

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Link party!
At the Picket Fence, French Country Cottage, Stuff and Nonsense, Liz Marie Blog, Craftionary, Redoux Interiors, Common Ground, Finding Fabulous, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Here Comes the Sun, House of Hepworths, Tatertots & Jello, A Pinch of Joy, Craft-O-Maniac, Keeping It Simple, C.R.A.F.T., Making the World Cuter, Mad in Crafts, Clairejustineoxox, Between Naps on the Porch, Coastal Charm, Today's Creative Blog, Home Stories A to Z, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Blackberry Vine, Homework, Savvy Southern Style, Handy Man Crafty Woman, Gingersnap Crafts, Elizabeth & Co., NY Melrose Family, DIY By Design, The Mandatory Mooch, House of Hepworths, Centsational Girl, Serenity You, Alderberry Hill, Watch Out Martha, The Gunny Sack, Skip To My Lou, Shanty 2 Chic, Glitter Glue and Paint

70 comments:

  1. What a fabulous idea.. Pinning it! :)
    Thanks for linking up at Friday Fun Party.

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  2. this is such a fabulously creative idea!! love it. Gonna feature on my weekly wow's on Sunday.

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    1. Thank you so much Laura! How exciting! Sharon

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  3. That is so beautiful! What a great idea. That is one of those decorations that will be cherished for years. Pinning it!

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    1. Thank you Michelle! I love it - every time I walk by, something in the collage catches my eye and makes me smile at the memory. :) Sharon

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  4. This is brilliant - and I love anything with my name on! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! Joy is one of my favorite words. :) Sharon

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  5. Hi Sharon! First thing I had to do was pin this. I have a board dedicated to the word "Joy". One of my favorite words as well.

    I'm having a, "It's a Social Hop like Crazy" party. I'd love for you to hop on over, grab a button and link up your blog.
    http://mydailyphotojourney.blogspot.com/2012/11/social-hop-like-crazy-party.html

    Have a crazy beautiful week!

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  6. This is awesome! Thanks! I love you! :-)

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    1. Thanks sis! When you come over, you'll have so much fun looking at all the pics. The girls kept looking for themselves in it! :) xoxo, Sharon

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  7. Ok, I LOVE this idea and I'm so doing it. How creative are you! I also think it would be fun to do with old Christmas cards? Maybe, maybe not?
    Jackie :)

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    1. Thanks Jackie! I think old cards would look so great and a great way to reuse them. If you try it, I'd love to see what you ended up doing. I think after the holidays, I'm going to do a smaller one with just a B for our last name and mount it on a smaller square piece of plywood to hang year 'round. :) Sharon

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  8. I absolutely love this! What better way to express joy during the season than with all your family pictures! Thank you so much for sharing an incredible craft with us!

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    1. Thank you Kelli! It makes me smile every time I walk by it. :) Sharon

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  9. Awesome and unique idea! I love the pictures!

    Melanie @ keepitsimpleandfun.blogspot.com

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  10. What a wonderful idea! This would be a great gift for my children with pictures from their childhoods!

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    1. Thank you Toodie. I think it would be a wonderful gift for them!

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  11. What a fantastic idea! Such a fabulous way to cherish Christmas memories! Love it!

    Julie

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  12. Finally saw this project in person last night! What a treat. Would definitely incorporate into my gift-giving projects this year! Thanks for sharing, crafty queen!

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    1. I loved seeing you last night Katrina! You go on with your own crafty self, I know you will put your own creative touch on this idea. :) xoxo, Sharon

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  13. I love this! It would be fun to have one for each season.

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    1. What a great idea! Thanks for stopping by. Sharon

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  14. What a great idea! I love how meaningful it is! :]

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    1. Thank you Onna, it is very special to me. :) Sharon

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  15. Beautiful! What a fun project! So full of precious memories as well :)

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    1. Thank you Karen. Those memories are precious and its nice to be reminded of that. :) sharon

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  16. this is just amazing!!!!

    would love it if you could share this on my link party @ www.serenityyou.com

    Natasha xx

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    1. Thank you for the invite Natasha, I'll stop by. Sharon

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  17. What a fun project, Sharon. Thanks for linking up to Tasty Thursdays at The Mandatory Mooch. Can't wait to see what you link up this week. Thanks, Nichi

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  18. Nice project. I found you through the Aloha Friday Blog Hop. Have a great day. :)

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  19. That looks amazing! I would love to make one, too! I came across your blog through Aloha Friday Blog Hop! Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks Eleyn. It was fun to make. I hope to make another one soon. Sharon

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  20. Newest follower here! I found you through the blog hop. Cute blog, I can't wait to read more!
    -Melanie@ meandmr.com

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  21. nice blog, glad to meet you. found you on blog hop http://14surgar.blogspot.com/

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  22. HI there! I'm Hanna. I'm your newest follower!!! Lovely space you have here! I hope you have a great weekend! You can find me in my little corner anytime at
    www.bouffeebambini.blogspot.com

    xoxoxo Hanna

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  23. Sharon! This is soooo my favorite thing ever. I really want to make one. Thanks for coming over and strutting your stuff.

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  24. Hey! This is such a cool idea! How thick were the letters which you used?

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    1. Hi Sammy, it's in storage now, but I'm guessing they are about 3/8" thick or so. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Thanks very much - I'm planning on making something similar for a friend's birthday!

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  25. What size was the piece of plywood you used?

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    1. Mine is 15" x 42" but you can make it whatever size you want depending on the size of your letters or how many photos you want to put on there.

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  26. Love this! Thank you so much for sharing at the Throwback Thursday party! XOXO

    Laura @ Inspiration for Moms

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  27. Visiting from Throwback Thursday...this is gorgeous!! So clever and I bet you find yourself stopped in font of it just looking at all the pictures all the time :)

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    1. Thank you Christy! And yes, I do! It seems to be a little bottleneck when we have our family over too, everyone trying to find themselves. :)

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  28. Is this something that would work using canvas instead out plyboard ?

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    1. Hi Christie, I'm not sure as I've never tried it on canvas, just the plywood.

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