Easy Crafts with Photos

Photo crafts make terrific gifts or wonderful personal accents for a home. Never use original photos in crafts projects. Instead, scan and print copies on your home equipment or take your photos to a copy shop for those services.

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Antiqued Photo Gift

Photos decoupaged on antique wood pieces

With just a few simple steps, you can make gifts to give with love to all your family members. Photo Blocks, made from home center trim pieces, are an artistic way to show off favorite snapshots.


-- Photos (Sepia-tone or black-and-white images work well. You can convert many photos to black-and-white or brown tones at do-it-yourself photo centers.)

-- Paper trimmer

-- Wood trim pieces (available in the trim section at home center stores)

-- Acrylic paints in desired colors

-- Paintbrush

-- Spray adhesive

-- Gold highlighting medium

-- Fine sandpaper

-- Tack cloth

1. Trim the photos to fit your wood pieces.

2. Paint each wood piece with one coat of acrylic paint in desired color. Let the paint dry.

3. In a well-ventilated work area, spray the back of the photos with adhesive; mount onto the painted pieces of wood trim.

4. Place a small amount of gold highlighting medium on your finger and rub it onto the wood until the desired highlight is achieved.

5. Use fine sandpaper to sand edges and corners where the photo is attached to give it a subtle worn effect. Sand the raised areas on wood pieces. Wipe off the dust with a tack cloth.

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Family Room Photo Projects

Family room with photos on wall and photos on craft projects

More creative than the usual table full of frames, this display takes advantage of different surfaces and techniques to personalize a room without overwhelming it. Photos grace wall plaques, a throw pillow, even a lampshade to blend seamlessly into the decor.

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Hand-Tinted Photos

Detail of photo frame

Use photo oils, available at crafts stores, and a cotton swab to apply color to a black-and-white photo printed on matte-finish paper. Mount the photo on a wooden painted plaque with double-stick archival tape, then hot-glue on a button border. Attach a loop of ribbon to the back and hang it on a decorative knob fastened to the wall.

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Photo-Transfer Cat Pillow

Detail of photo on cat pillow

Copy a photo of a furry friend onto transfer paper, then follow the manufacturer's instructions to iron it onto fabric. Cut the image out, leaving 3 inches on all sides. Cut out another piece of fabric in the same shape. Layer the pieces with right sides together, and sew a seam 1/2 inch from the edges, leaving an opening at the bottom. Turn the fabric right side out, stuff with polyfill, and hand-stitch the opening closed.

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Photo-Transfer Lamp

Detail of photos on lamp

Turn a plain lampshade into a piece of artwork. Roll your lampshade on fabric to mark the top and bottom edges. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to transfer images onto photo transfer paper, then onto the fabric where the lampshade is marked. Cut out fabric on marked lines. Apply the fabric piece to the lampshade with spray adhesive. Trim top and bottom edges with coordinating ribbon.

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Family-Size Photo Frame

Photos in window frame

Turn a well-worn window into a frame for multiple images for a large piece of personal artwork. Fit a mat and photo into each opening, keeping them in place with framers glazing points, available at crafts stores. Add vintage or new hardware to give it character.

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Photo Calendar

Photos made into a photo calendar

Keep track of important dates in style with a personalized wall calendar. Fabric-covered foam-core board provides the base on which two smaller boards are glued. The bottom board includes a monthly calendar printed onto card stock and attached with brads. The top board is covered with batting and photos printed onto canvas paper pieces that are stitched together; ribbon and buttons hide the stitches. Fill the calendar with birthdays and anniversaries as a special gift for a family member.

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Heritage Photo Display

Photos placed on plates and hung as artwork

Turn family history into an intriguing and beautiful wall arrangement by displaying vintage photos in vintage serving dishes, some ceramic and some silver (the more tarnished, the better). As with any photo crafts project, don't use original photos. Instead, scan the originals into your computer, then use image-editing software to resize, crop, and change their color if you like.

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How to Get a Unique Photo Display

Detail of plates with photos

To create a distinctive display of photos, choose unexpected "frames," such as a silver platter, a mirror, dessert plates, even a gravy boat. Scan old photos into your computer, or snap new ones with your digital camera. Color them using image-editing software, print, and cut them out. Mount them using double-stick archival tape, available at crafts and scrapbooking stores. Hang with mounting tape or attach a hanging bracket with epoxy.

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Photo Books

Books turned into photo frames

Transform old books into interesting frames for your favorite photographs.

Using a ruler and pencil, mark an opening on the front cover. Place the front cover on a cutting mat, and use a utility knife or craft knife and straightedge to cut on the drawn lines.

On the first page, mark an opening slightly smaller than the opening on the cover. Gather several dozen more pages, place the cutting mat under the pages, and cut through all pages on the lines marked on the first page.

On the next uncut page, mark an opening slightly smaller than the previously cut opening. Gather more pages, place a cutting mat under the pages, and cut on the marked lines.

Use glue to adhere the front and back covers to the pages. With the book closed, brush decoupage glue around the edges of the cut pages. Cut a photo to the size of the smallest opening, brush crafts glue on the back and secure the photo in the opening.

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Family Photo Platter

White tray with photos

A collection of family photos is an easy, meaningful embellishment for a porcelain platter. Cut a piece of paper the same size and color as the flat surface of the platter and plan an arrangement of photos, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Use image-editing software to shrink, enlarge, or crop the photos and print them in sepia tone. Cut out the photos, attach them to the paper with double-stick tape, and have the whole sheet laminated at a copy shop. (Some shops may not be able to laminate a sheet larger than 11x17 inches, so check before selecting your platter.) Attach the laminated sheet with double-stick tape that can easily be removed to clean the platter.

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Desktop Photo Display

Detail of photo display

A black-and-white color scheme unifies a collection of photos of different sizes and subjects.

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Photo-Embellished Desktop Calendar

Detail of calendar made with photos

To personalize your desktop calendar, size photos and print them on peel-and-stick paper. Cut them out, remove the backing, and stick them on the calendar in the margins or on specific dates.

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Family Photo Collection

Detail of photo display

Rotating the photos on display is quick and easy when they're framed with inexpensive black mats. To make the shelf, rout grooves out of two blocks of wood, glue the blocks together, and paint the shelf with a satin-finish black. Add a phrase using crafts paint and a stencil, alphabet stickers, or a custom decal. Choose mats with both rectangular and round openings, and attach the photos to their backs with archival tape.

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Photo Clock

Detail of photo display

To create the photo clock, remove the numbers and hands from a clock face, size and print a photo, attach it with double-stick tape, and replace the hands. Or mount the photo on any flat surface, drill a hole in the center, and attach a clock kit from the back.

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Paint Chip Photo Frame

Two photo frames with photos

Pick up some paint chips from your local hardware store in your favorite color scheme and put them to work as mats for your photos. Select coordinating colors and trim the chips so that only the colored part is left. Using a frame that comes with a photo mat, or you may cut your own, arrange the pieces so they fit onto the photo mat. Adhere them to the mat using crafts glue. Choose your photo, place it under the mat and reassemble your frame.

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Photo Plate Display

Display of plates with photos

This afternoon project is really a two-for-one; it shows off favorite photos and a collection of decorative plates at once. Pull out family photos or your favorite vacation snapshots, and open your cabinets in search of china frames. Use a compass to mark the images with cut lines. Cut out the photos and adhere them to the plates with double-sided tape.

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