Today’s photo placemat craft is simple, yet tricky. I will tell you right away that I struggled with it a bit and I’m not completely happy with how it turned out. However, I think it’s a great idea, and has lots of possibilities, so I want to share it.
The inspiration came from my grandmother, who made these placemats out of recycled holiday cards and contact paper a long time ago – I am guessing these are more than 35 years old.
I’ve been wanting to recreate them for awhile, but not necessarily with holiday cards. I had a brainstorm the other day when Elena told me she wanted to have a party for her friend Haley who’s moving to Houston in August. I started to think about what personalized crafts we might be able to do at the party so that the girls could have something sweet to make and remember each other by. It occurred to me that we could make these placemats with photos, rather than cards (which is easier because photos are a uniform size while the holiday cards are not).
But the reality is that this is not a craft that kids can manage on their own. They can help pick out the supplies and create the design, but will not be able to handle the contact paper.
Here’s what you need:
- Clear contact paper
- Photos (I used 9)
- Colorful cardstock (I used Martha Stewart’s 4.5″ x 6.5″ Mat Pad.)
- Spray glue (not pictured – more on this in a minute)
- The rotary cutter and mat are optional – in fact, I ended up thinking scissors were better
Before you begin, lay out nine pieces of cardstock and your photos, so that you know your design ahead of time. Then, take some spray glue and glue your photos to the pieces of cardstock. I learned the hard way that this is the way I should have done it; Instead, I taped my photos to the paper, and later, when I had to reposition the contact paper, the photos came untaped from the cardstock and made everything more difficult.
After gluing the photos, cut two pieces of contact paper that are a little bigger than the layout of your placemat (you will trim it down at the end). If you can somehow flatten your contact paper ahead of time, I’d highly recommend it. I struggled with it curling up on me as I tried to pull off the waxy paper – I needed four hands, or six hands, instead of two.
Take one sheet of your contact paper and lay it flat on the table (adhesive side up, of course). Then lay your nine pieces of cardstock/photos down on the contact paper very neatly.
Now comes the part that, depending on your attitude, is either a nightmare or a comedy show: lay the top layer of contact paper down, as neatly as you can, and lined up as best as you can, on top of the photos.
I can almost guarantee that you are going to screw this up the first time, like I did, and struggle with pulling the contact paper apart (possible, but not easy!) to get out the air bubbles so that the contact paper is smooth and aligned with the bottom sheet.
Once you get the contact paper in place, trim around the edges with a pair of scissors (contact paper is buttery soft to cut through and the cardstock will help guide you around the edges). I thought I’d need the rotary cutter to keep it straight, but I didn’t.
Here’s the placemat:
(Oh, and here’s what the back looks like:)
Here’s a close-up of my trouble spot – see the air bubbles? Even after pulling the contact paper apart and trying it again, I just couldn’t get it as smooth as I wanted it.
On the other hand, the air bubbles aren’t that big of a deal, and I bet if I made a couple more of these placemats, I would find a technique for laying down the top layer of contact paper in a more accurate way. God bless my grandmother who made a dozen of these. The woman must have had the patience of a saint to do that many.
I can imagine many variations of this craft. For example, you could make it doublesided, if you wanted, or use fabric instead of cardstock. I also considered raiding my stationery stash and making a pretty letterpress card placemat. When you think about it, you can sandwich anything you want between two pieces of contact paper and make it fun and pretty. What would you choose?
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On Friday, WordPress featured my “Best $25 I Ever Spent” in the Freshly Pressed section of their homepage, and yowza, did I get a lot of traffic throughout the weekend and a lot of comments! A lot of really nice comments. If you’re new to Charlotte’s Fancy through Freshly Pressed, thanks so much for coming.