Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DIY Picture Collages

I have NO idea how I came up with the idea for this project.  I was looking for a nice picture-gift to give to all of my roommates.  We've lived together in Apartment 15G for 3 years -- 5 girls in one house -- and we will all be graduating and moving away from each other in a couple of months.


How do you put together a gift that says "I love the memories we've built in this house, and I'll miss you bunches?"

I started searching online for collage frames to buy, but they're like $30 bucks a piece! That was not in this college student's budget.


So I started brainstorming ways to save money ... cause that's what you do when you're broke.

And an idea came to me out of the blue: Bookshelves.  
You heard me--  Book-SHELVES!  
I figured you buy a cheap bookshelf and get like 3 shelves, plus 2 side pieces to upcycle-- that's 5 pieces of paintable / modge podge-able / picture-paste-able / personalizable wood.   Why has no one thought of this before?  And if they have, why have I not heard of this? 

I searched for the cheapest bookshelves I could fins, and I came across one for $18 (Eighteen Dollar$!!) at  Link below:

It was made from particle board, which would work just fine according to my extensive google research.  I purchased it (free shipping site-to-store), and once it arrived, I got started.

Just as a reference, I would have spent about $150 on this project if I'd gone with collage frames.

Here's what I spent:
Bookcase:  $20
Paint and Modge Podge: $17
Pictures: $15
Sanding block and Picture hangers: $14
Total: $66 -- Not bad, eh??

Step 1: Sand the finish off of the shelves.

 I got a sanding block for $4 at Lowes, and I put some muscle-love into sanding the shelves til the finish was pretty scuffed up -- this made the paint stick better.  It was a dusty job, my friends.  

I used a damp rag to wipe the dust off of the board.

Here's what the shelving looked like from the box.  I had 4 shorter shelves + the 2 long sides.

 Step 2: Paint

I purchased different types of paint ($8) from walmart, and used a couple heavy coats per board.  I originally planned on using fabric as a frame around each collage.  I got the fabric for about $10 at Walmart, but didn't end up using it.

Shout out to my neighbors Jessica and Sam for letting me work at their place!

I used the leftover fabric to make passport covers for my friends who let me work in their apartment! Waste not. :)


Step 3: Arrange Photos on the Board

This part was a little challenging, since I had to trim every photo to make them all fit.  I was able to get about 9-10 photos onto each board.  I found out that it was better to cut the photos into pairs -- so each picture was the same size as at least one other picture.  This helped create symmetry throughout the collage.  I wanted to make each collage different, and I managed it!

Step 4: Modge Podge Photos into Place

Once I had the pictures laid out, I picked them up one at a time and modge podge them to the board.  I let them dry completely.

Step 5: Paint a Message

I wanted to put some sort of words on each collage, and I used paint pens to do this (it would have been difficult to do with just paint and a brush). 

Make sure the paint dries completely before you modge podge over them!  I didn't wait long enough for one board, and the modge podge fudged two of the letters a little bit.  Luckily I was able to fix it.

Step 6: Modge Podge EVERYTHING! . . . TWICE! . . . at LEAST.

I put a pretty good coat on, making sure to seal the edges of each picture.   This one (in the picture) was the first board I did, so it is a little messy.  I got much better with the modge podge as I went on to the other 3.  I learned to start at the left side, and work my way across, making sure to even out the coat as I went. 

This is after I already fixed the letters.  The bottom of the A and p were almost completely separated from the rest of the letters.

You can barely tell I made a mistake!

Step 5: Nail picture hangers to the boards.

I was stressing all throughout this project, because I didn't know how to make the boards hang-able.  I wasn't finding any luck on google, but I finally came across these sawtooth picture hangers on amazon (link below), and they worked great!

They are cheap and actually quite sturdy, and they come with 2 nails per hanger.   I put two hangers on each board, 16 inches apart (the distance between most wall studs).  I measured them from the top of the board using the width of my debit card.  I don't have pics of this -- sorry!  But you can figure it out.  It wasn't too difficult. 


Step 6: Wrap 'em and Gift 'em!

My roomies were in such suspense as we waited for a time when all 5 of us were at home at once.  That moment finally came, and they got to open their gifts.  They loved them, and I loved seeing that they loved them!  

Just one note: if you wrap these, don't stick them on top of each other for a couple days like I did.  Some of the wrapping paper left a little residue on the boards.  I was able to scratch some of it off, but it actually made a cool effect -- luckily I don't have perfectionist roommates. 

I love these girls so much!  I am very thankful to the Lord for bringing us together -- if just one were missing, we wouldn't be the same.


Morgan (imitating her face in one of the pictures)



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