Thursday, January 9, 2014

Homemade Christmas Part III: Photo Collage

Welcome to Part III of Homemade Christmas (see Parts I and II for the projects I've already shared). Figuring out what to make Sam's stepdad, Bob, was another challenging one -- he likes reading, spending time outdoors, puttering around the house, corgis, and all things relating to the summer lake house he and Sam's mom bought in Upstate New York a few years ago. Though I'm sure I could have come up with some kitschy corgi items, I decided to go with the lake house as inspiration. The house gets closed up during the winter, but Bob loves to keep tabs on the weather and temperature up there, and during the summer they spend months there relaxing and exploring. Sam's brother is a fabulous photographer and has taken some really nice photos up there, and I thought Bob might enjoy some sort of variation on a photo collage so he could enjoy the view from the house even when they're not there.

I wanted to do something a little different, though, and in my online searching for photo collage ideas came across an idea from This Girl's Life for an adaptation of a photo collage she saw in Urban Outfitters. Here's the project Mandy did (on the right) next to the Urban Outfitters Inspiration:

I really liked her approach, and thought that photos of the lake would lend themselves very nicely to something similar. To pull it off, I needed a large canvas, mod podge, stained glass foiling tape (for the edging), and photos of the lake sized to fit in a grid.

I already had a canvas on hand, and based on its dimensions I determined that 5"x5" photos would work best. First I found my favorite shots of the lake, then played around with cropping and duplicating them until I had 12 variations that I liked. I made each image 5"x5" but on a 5"x7" "canvas" (I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to edit photos) so that I could easily print them at CVS as 5x7s and then trim them to size.

I laid them out on the canvas and played around with their placement until I liked the arrangement, then used matte mod podge to glue them to the canvas (I think glossy mod podge could look good too, but I worried about it looking too much like the magazine collages I made as a kid so I went with matte). Then I applied a few coats of the mod podge over the top, allowing each coat to dry in between. Here's what it looked like as the first top coat of mod podge was drying:

Michael's didn't have stained glass foiling tape, but I was able to order it on Amazon. It comes in a package like this:

I was a little nervous about using it because normally materials that are both delicate and sticky are really hard to work with. However, this was incredibly easy to use -- I just cut each piece to the length I wanted, removed the sticky backing, and applied it to the canvas. After laying each piece down where I wanted it, I ran the handles of my scissors along it to make sure it was firmly adhered. The tape was great for the lines between the photos, as well as for creating a more finished look along the edges. Here's the finished result:

Another shot, showing how I molded the tape around the edges of the canvas:

It's nothing fancy, but I think it turned out nicely!


  1. And it is LOVELY and Bob was so pleased!!!

    1. Awww, thanks Beth! So glad to hear it.