Let me start this tutorial by making a confession. I am not crafty. I’m barely even creative. But I have high aspirations of craftiness. I want to be able to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, and create brilliant designs with minimal supplies. Unfortunately, most of my attempts turn out looking like a preschooler created them…and I almost have a Master’s degree! *sigh* Someday remind me to tell you about the Lovey Disaster of 2009 when I made what looked like a gingham voodoo doll for Miles.
So when I say a craft is easy, I mean it. Even I could make this one look good.
This project, a Photo Block Puzzle, was our MOPS craft a few months ago, and I loved it so much I ordered some more blocks to make a few for Christmas presents. I gave one to my husband’s grandmother, my boys’ babysitter, and my mom. They are really simple to make, so if you have the supplies handy, you can whip some of these up really quickly if you need a personalized gift for someone special.
- Six (6) photos, 4 x 6 size
- Six (6) 2″x2″ wooden blocks (There are a few online retailers where you can find them. You will definitely save if you buy them in bulk. Here is one example of a place where you can purchase them.)
- Photo trimmer, like this Craft Lite Cutter
- Scissors or other device for additional trimming
- Glue (Glue sticks or regular school glue works)
- Mod Podge (*Optional, but recommended!)
- Sponge brush for ModPodging (*Optional, but recommended!)
1) Use a trimmer to trim each photo into 2 inch squares (Hint: Trim into two long 2″ strips first, then two more cuts to make six 2″ squares.)
2) Arrange your first photo on the wooden blocks and use glue to attach photo pieces to the blocks. At this time, you’ll want to line up the corners in a way that makes sense. You will probably need to trim along the edges after the glue dries, so if it’s an outer piece, make sure if there is overage that it goes out the outer sides, not the inner sides, so that it looks good when the puzzle is put together.
3) I recommend letting the glue dry before attempting to trim off any excess photo edges, otherwise your photo pieces might slide around and make you frustrated (not that I say this from experience or anything…). Use good scissors or maybe an X-acto knife to do this.
4) Repeat steps 2 and 3, making sure to mix up the block pieces so it is more of a challenge. Unless of course you want it to be easy!
5) Once everything is all trimmed and dried, use your sponge brush and ModPodge to seal the blocks, paying special attention to the edges. This is an optional step, but it will really extend the life of your puzzle blocks and protect them from spills and grubby toddler fingers. I recommend doing it in two shifts, doing all but two or three sides, letting it dry (which doesn’t take long!), and completing the other side.
6) Sit back and enjoy your handiwork and marvel in your creativity. (*Ironic smirk optional)
A few tips:
- Choose pictures that aren’t super-similar. For my first set, I used all pictures from our trip to the pumpkin patch — BAD IDEA. It’s pretty difficult to find which pumpkin field goes with which picture.
- Be careful where you set your blocks down while they dry. I accidentally put a few of mine on a place where a drop or two of ModPodge had dripped, and I had to redo those sections.
I have gotten so many compliments on these, and not just thinly veiled pity compliments. Real, honest-to-goodness compliments!