Friday, April 17, 2015

Photobook Fun!

I. Love. Pictures.  I also have a bit of an addiction to photo books.  I think they are totally awesome – they look great, and are a fun, creative way to display your pictures.  Rather than my usual step-by-step DIY, this is going to be more of a tip-guide to designing, creating, and ordering a photo book.

Cost: this is pretty dependent on many different factors.  Books can cost anywhere from about $10 - $40, including shipping (they can get even more expensive; but, I’ve never paid more than $30).
Time: again, this is totally dependent on how much time you want to spend on it.  I have created books that taken me weeks of working to finish, and I have created books in a few hours.

What are some photo-book-making websites?
                Three that I have used are:,, and  I use Snapfish and Shutterfly to make traditional photo books (although there are other websites, too!).  And I use Print Studio for a cool, mini, magnetic photo book.

What is this “cool, mini, magnetic photo book?”
                A “cool, mini, magnetic photo book” is so cool because it goes on your fridge.  It’s a tiny photo book that holds 24 photos (one per page).  Each page measures a bit less than 1.7 inch by 1.5 inchThese books come in packs of three, although you can choose to have different pictures in each book.  , The pack of three costs $17, including shipping.  At less than $6 per book, these make great gifts for family members!  Sadly, there aren’t very many customizable options.

The reminder of the information in this article will be about “traditional” photo books

What about a “traditional” photo book?
                A “traditional” photo book is one that’s more of a book – you can include text, change the background, and place word art and other fun icons on the pages.  The pictures in this article are all from my “traditional” photo books.

Each website has it's own page layouts to help you get started.  Or, you can make your own!

What factors determine costs?
                Factors that determine costs vary wildly.
                Size:  There are all sorts of different photo book sizes.  A classic book
                Pages:  Most standard photo books come with 20 pages automatically, with additional pages costing about $1.30 for one page (Shutterfly) and about $2 for two pages (Snapfish).  The price of extra pages varies slightly with the size of your book.
an example of a page with many pictures
                Cover: Hardcover books are more expensive than softcover books (by about $10).  But, in my opinion this cost completely worth it, as I think that hardcover books look much nicer than softcover books.
                Sales:  Both photo book sites offer deals and coupons for their books throughout the year.  I will often make a photo book and then wait for a good deal before I buy it.  Shutterfly often offers 40% off deals.  Snapfish often offers 50% off or three-for-the-price-of-one deal on their photo books.  Occasionally you can get a free photo book offer.  Shipping runs about $8-10, depending on the size of your book.

How do you actually make a photo book?
1.       Choose a theme for your book.  Some ideas include vacations, summer break, a semester at Thiel, and a year in review.
2.       Choose photos for your book.  You’ll likely want between three-five pictures per page.  You might also want few pages of one or two pictures and/or a few pages of six or more pictures.  You can make a photo book with 40 pictures, or with 80 pictures.  It’s up to you!
3.       Upload your pictures.  There will be a “My photos” button towards the top on each of the websites.  After clicking that, there will be an option to upload new pictures.
4.       Now, you can begin making your photo book.  You will be able to choose the size photo book that you want to make.  Each website then has a tutorial about how to use the different options on that website.  If you would like some page ideas, Google “photo book ideas,” and then go to pictures.  There will be many different ideas!
You can write stories about the pictures to make your book look more like a book, if you want.

Icons can help your pages look more fun!

Use icons to help theme your pages.
If you are interested in making a photo book, and have never used Shutterfly before, I can send you a coupon for a free 8x8 photo book (It will cost about $8 with shipping; but, that is a really good price.).  If you are interested, send me an e-mail at  The offer is good until the end of June; so, you will have plenty of time to make a book.

These photo book sites aren't just for photo books.  You can also make cards, photo mugs, and lots of other gifts!  I've posted one of the cards that I have made below.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Canvas Photo Transfer

Crafting it Myself: College Student Edition (cost and time-efficient crafts that college students can pick up at their local Walmart) 

If you are anything like me, you LOVE pictures and you’re always looking for fun, new ways to display them.  Recently, I’ve fallen in love with canvas prints.  However, I can’t really afford one (at roughly $36 for an 8x10 canvas print, what college student could?).  So, crafting to the rescue!  This project was cheap, easy, and turned out great!
Time: 2 hrs (plus about 24 hrs to dry)

Cost: about $9 for two

Materials (prices from Walmart):
canvas (I got a pack of two 8x10) - $4
foam brush - $1
Modge Podge - $4
a printout of your chosen picture

I used a Modge Podge type gel.  However, other people have used all sorts of different gels.  It’s really a matter of what is available.

I would get a pack of two canvases.  That way, if one of your transfers gets messed up somehow, you will have another canvas to try again.

1. Choose your picture.  Do any cropping or editing to your picture before printing it.  A great free website for simple photo editing is  Also, the computers in the Pedas lab have Photoshop and other photo-editing software.
**note** If your picture has words on it, flip the picture horizontally before you print it (otherwise your words will be backwards!).

2. Print your picture on regular printer paper.  This can be done from any regular printer.  Use basic, printer paper.  Make sure you set up your picture so that it fills the printer page (unless you want a smaller photo transfer).
**note** Make two copies of your picture in case something goes wrong with your first transfer.
**note** If your picture has words on it, flip the picture horizontally before you print it (otherwise your words will be backwards!).

**note** If you want to give your transfer a more “weathered” look, rip the edges of the picture, like above.

3. Prepare your canvas.  Use the foam brush to spread your Modge Podge all over your canvas.  You should make sure the canvas is fully coated with a thick coat of Modge Podge.  If your canvas is not completely covered, your photo will not transfer well.

4. Gently lay your picture, face down, on the canvas.  Start in the middle and work your way outward to press out the wrinkles.  The more wrinkles you have, the more areas where your picture will not transfer completely. 

5. Let your picture dry for at least 24 hrs.  You need to make sure it is completely dry, or else the transfer will not work.

6. After at least 24 hrs, your transfer is ready for you to finish.  This will be tedious work.  But, if you turn on Netflix while you are doing it, I promise it won’t be bad!  Start by dampening the paper on the canvas.  Then, using your finger, rub the paper.  You will notice that it will begin to pull away.  Do this all over the canvas.
**note** A great way to dampen the paper is to wet a paper towel and then brush the paper towel against the paper.
As you begin to rub the damp paper, it will peel off.  Keep peeling!

7. Repeat step 6 again and again until all of the paper has rubbed off.  You will likely need to do this 8 or so times, occasionally taking breaks in between rubbing the paper.  This will allow the paper to dry so that you can see where you need to rub some more.

8. Once the paper has been removed, and you are satisfied with the dried canvas, your picture is ready to be hung.  Enjoy!