DIY Photo Block Ornaments

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve blogged before how I live life a little different. I do stop and smell the roses everyday. I appreciate the priceless things in life like love and friendship. My family and my friends are my sanctuary. In them I find peace. Peace with being diagnosed with PH. In them I also find hope. Hope for the future no matter how short or long mine may be. I am a very thankful person. I let go of anger as fast as it comes. I tell those who are important to me that I love them ALL the time. I say it because I mean it. Am I this way because of my death sentence diagnosis? No. I really don’t believe that. I have always been a passionate person, if anything, PH has made me even more passionate. I am passionate about living versus just existing. There is a huge difference.

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So when birthdays, special occasions or the holidays come around, I don’t run to the nearest mall or megastore looking for perfect gifts. The truth is that we are on a fixed income thanks to my PH. So what I believe my family and friends deserve are things I can’t afford to buy them. So instead, I always try to make something for those I love dearly. I pour all my love into the things I create and I am giving a piece of me when I make something for someone. This past football season, I made large 4×4 wood blocks for each senior that on each side had a different photo of them in action on the field. You can check out how I made the large photo cubes HERE. The kids loved them and they turned out so great. Then it hit me! I can scale back the size and create personalized photo ornaments! This post has written directions but the post with the large 4×4 photo cubes has detailed photos to go with the written directions. I pretty much followed the same steps other than I inserted eyelet screws into these smaller photo block versions to create a hanger.

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The hard part was gathering memorable photos of my friends and family. Thankfully social websites make this part less daunting. I visited my family’s and friends’ Facebook pages and found 5 special pictures of theirs that I knew were important to them. For the 6th side of the block (the top), I found a wintery background picture (just type “winter wallpaper” in the Google image search bar and you will find tons of graphic backgrounds to choose from). I used a cute snowman picture and added text that said “Our Sweet Snowbabies 2012” or “Our Sweet Grand Snowbabies 2012” or I just put their name with the year on it. I used a photo editing software to crop down the photos into perfect squares.

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Then I went to Michaels to find 2×2 wood blocks. They were selling them for $1.29 each! Highway robbery! The hubby took me to Lowes and got a 36 inch 2 x 2 railing banister, eyelet screws (to make the hanging ribbon) and sand paper. He cut a few by hand using a hacksaw and then my dear friend, Rhonda, had her dad cut up the rest. First off, let me tell you, those hardware megastores get away with murder! There is no such thing as a 2 x 2 or 4 x 4. Everything is always at least 1/2 an inch smaller than stated! If the wood is not 2 x 2 then just say that! Sheesh! it’s a good thing those mega hardware stores are geared toward mostly men because if enough women were aware of their cheating ways, there would be a major ruckus! Us women don’t do well with false advertising, lol! After choosing all the photos, I added them to a Word document. I scaled down the size of each picture to 1.5 x 1.5 size. I was able to get several photos onto one sheet of paper. I saved them to a memory stick and took them to the FedEx Kinkos to print them in color using their laser printers. I know from experience that photos printed from my deskjet printer at home doesn’t work well with Mod Podge. The ink runs, smears and ruins the photo. I had the photos printed on plain old copy paper because again from experience, I know it works best to have thin paper when Mod Podging (is that a word? LOL).

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Steve sanded down the edges and the freshly cut sides to make them as smooth as possible. Steve then used the black spray paint left over from making the senior photo blocks and spray painted all the 1.5 x 1.5 blocks black. Following the same technique I used for the 4 x 4 blocks (which again were really 3.5 x 3.5 blocks, lol), I cut down the photos just slightly smaller. Each side was slightly different so I laid the block on the photo, traced around it and cut just slightly inside of the square. The black creates a frame around the photos giving it a really cool effect. I applied Mod Podge to the wood block and using an old expired credit card, I smoothed the picture on to the wood block side. I repeated this for all the sides and for all the different blocks I made. I then applied two layers of Mod Podge (glossy) over each photo all the way to the edges of the block (allowing the 1st layer to fully dry before adding the 2nd layer). I hand screwed on the eyelet screws (using the pointed scissor ends inserted into the eye to do the last few tight turns). I then attached a color coordinating ribbon. They turned out so freaking cute!

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I decided to go back in time and make one of Spencer for every year we have been blessed to have him. I used a different winter graphic design for every year and always added “Spencer” and the coordinating year to the image on the top of the wood block. I also made sure all words were toward the top or bottom and not in the middle where the eyelet screw would be screwed in. I will continue to make one every year for Spencer choosing 5 photos of importance for that year. When he turns 18, he will have 18 keepsake ornaments! I made one for our oldest son using special photos of him from the past year. There are very few photos in general of Steve & I together. Mostly because I am usually the one taking pictures. I found 5 photos of us taken some time in the past 17 years we have been together. Then on the top block I put “Steve & Kathy” toward the top of the block and “In love since 1995” toward the bottom of the block. I loved how these turned out and am so thankful that I was able to create a gift that is worthy enough to be given to those I love.

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These would make for great “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornaments using 5 baby pictures of that year. Or a fantastic wedding gift using wedding photos. For one of my friends, I used some of her daughter’s senior school pictures. For another friend, I used photos from a loved vacation she had taken with her daughter to London. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination! So get those creative juices flowing! It would be so awesome to have just a tree only decorated in little mirrors and photo blocks! Make some of just specific family members and some of specific vacations! Oh, this will be a future project for sure, a photo cube tree covered in wonderful memories! Because I had black spray paint, ribbon and Mod Podge on hand, the 20+ ornaments cost less than $10 to make. Again, that doesn’t matter, these cutie patooties are priceless gifts made with tons and tons of love!

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