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Photo Play

Martha Stewart Living, January 2008

Thanks to digital photography and cell phone cameras, it's easier than ever to amass a vast collection of pictures of special moments and familiar faces. 

Unfortunately, most of those precious images are stuck in a computer and rarely see the light of day. It's a cinch to press the shutter button, but what happens afterward? Once you realize  photographs can be used to create home accents, the big picture gets more interesting -- and inspiring. Many snapshots can be transformed into decorative objects as modern and arresting as anything you'd find in a design store. 

The trick is not to limit photos to the usual frames (or to areas such as the top of a piano or side table), and to begin visualizing other places and objects around the house as potential exhibition spaces. Frameless photographs can be mounted on sturdy art boards and linked by small hinges for an accordion structure (above.) Sort through photographs, set aside the best ones, and then think about which types of displays would highlight them effectively. Soon you'll be thinking of the digital files on your computer not just as images, but as the makings of your next conversation piece.

Some projects require an ink-jet or a laser printer, so read through the instructions and consider your equipment before deciding what to make. You can use photo-editing software to enlarge and crop images, draw attention to the details you like most, and convert color shots to black-and-white or sepia tones. Still lifes and simple shapes set against plain backgrounds work particularly well for the photos with trim, the photo cubes, and the stationery set. Don't overlook nondigital photos, which can be scanned into a computer and modified.

Copies of family photos can enhance household objects, such as this vintage vanity tray, above left. A glazier can cut a piece of glass to fit inside the tray to protect the image. Photos of pets and other animals are cut out and glued to cards to create a stationery set. Bottle caps are inset with small black-and-white pictures and can be used as magnets and thumbtacks.

Sepia landscapes, above, left, are framed by a decorative trim. Black-and-white images of nature form photo cubes. A moody photograph turns into the face of a  clock. The image is inserted by unscrewing the back of a clock, gently removing its hands with pliers, and then pulling apart the face and the mechanism. The face of the clock is traced onto the back of the photograph, and the cutout is attached to the face with double-sided tape. Then the clock is reassembled.

Photo Craft Ideas
Bottle-Cap Magnets and Thumbtacks
Stationery Set
Photo Cubes
Classic Photographs with Trim
Accordion Gallery
Decorative Photo Plate

Comments (17)

  • cowlady37 8 Dec, 2008

    All you need is a digital camera and a computer with a printer to make bookmarks with the recipients photo on it, or a Christmas card with a photo of their house from your house (your home photo) People keep them for years, If you laminate them it is even better.

  • blewis50 15 Jul, 2008

    Cheryl Dulong used a Canon Powershot 7.5 mp. I was trying to find out more myself.

  • lavonn1b 14 Jul, 2008

    Bonnieb2 - thank you for providing the type of camera from today's show!

  • bonnieb2 14 Jul, 2008

    Canon Powershot - there are many versions of this camera; best prices often on Amazon.com

  • bonnieb2 14 Jul, 2008

    Canon Powershot - there are many versions of this camera; best prices often on Amazon.com

  • bonnieb2 14 Jul, 2008

    Canon Powershot - there are many versions of this camera; best prices often on Amazon.com

  • bonnieb2 14 Jul, 2008

    Canon Powershot - there are many versions of this camera; best prices often on Amazon.com

  • lavonn1b 14 Jul, 2008

    does anyone know what type/brand/model digital camera Cheryl Dulong used in today's show (Monday, 7/14/08)?

    thank you.

  • Melodie-Belle 12 May, 2008

    Ritzyoung - thanks for the tip about Envirotex Life! I never heard of it, and it sounds perfect for this.

  • kirby524 4 Mar, 2008

    swatts, I use Omni Gel for image transfers. It's available online on sites like www.firemountaingems.com. I've also seen it at Michael's. Good luck!

  • swatts 13 Feb, 2008

    Does anyone know where to find the soft-gel transfer medium it calls for in photo cubes?
    I asked at an art store and they said the closest thing would be matte medium, would this work? Thanks.

  • RitzYoung 1 Feb, 2008

    Elena, as far as the resin, there are a few options. You can buy Envirotex Lite, found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby, relatively inexpensive with their 40% coupons. A small kit will last awhile, if this is the only thing that you use it for. It's a 2 part resin mix, 1 part Hardener, 1 part polymere resin. Gives a glossy, glassy finish. Or you can get Diamond Glaze or 3D Crystal Laquer. Of all three, I love the Envirotex Lite. I use it for my bottle caps for jewelry and hair bows.

  • RitzYoung 1 Feb, 2008

    Elena, as far as the resin, there are a few options. You can buy Envirotex Lite, found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby, relatively inexpensive with their 40% coupons. A small kit will last awhile, if this is the only thing that you use it for. It's a 2 part resin mix, 1 part Hardener, 1 part polymere resin. Gives a glossy, glassy finish. Or you can get Diamond Glaze or 3D Crystal Laquer. Of all three, I love the Envirotex Lite. I use it for my bottle caps for jewelry and hair bows.

  • elenaroscoe 22 Jan, 2008

    Anyone know how to use casting resin, as called for in the bottle-cap project? Any alternatives? I went to buy it in the craft store and the can said I needed a catalyst? Thanks!

  • DebsSweet 3 Jan, 2008

    I have always displayed lots of pictures of my family and dogs on tables, walls, bedside tables - everywhere! I love Martha Stewart's ideas! Thanks, Martha!

  • Jokin 31 Dec, 2007

    I love these great idea's! I'm always looking for more ways to display my photo's. I just wish had I had more wall space!

  • 1michelle 19 Dec, 2007

    You can also go through all your unused magazines and cut out all the pictures that inspire you, or pictures of things you aspire to have in your life, and paste them to an antique or modern frame. Adding some family photos with them would look nice too, especially in black and white. The frame, being large or small, can especially be placed in your bedroom so it's the first thing you see when waking. That's inspiring!