Crafting Genealogy: To the Letter – Family Photo Collage

To the Letter – Family Photo Collage

To the Letter – Family Photo Collage

I like to craft and I love researching my family history so what better way to combine these two hobbies than to start Crafting Genealogy! This column will give us all a chance to express some creativity as well as work with copies of our well-loved family photos and memorabilia.

In my family, like I’m sure many of you have experienced, my children and extended family members are terribly uninterested in my genealogy research. We’ve all had someone’s eyes glaze over and roll back in their head when we start to share a recent family history find but it’s different when I’m Crafting Genealogy.

When I have one of my completed projects on display in my house invariably someone will ask about it and the ancestor remembered in it. This opportunity gives me a chance to share a little bit about that long ago family member along with my craft. My hope is that some of that information sticks with the person and a future interest in genealogy will develop. At the very least my children will be aware of their great grandparents names and a tiny bit about them.

To the Letter – Family Photo Collage
I think this is a great project and easy to do. First we need to gather our materials.
Paper mache or wood Letter of your choosing. I’m working with a wood letter. I chose a “C” for my first name since my photos are from both my maternal and paternal side but it would be really cool if you worked on one family line and chose that surname’s first letter.
Acrylic paint/brush
Printed Photos* – Always use copies never, ever use the originals. I get all my copies of family photos from Walgreens. I wait until they have a 10 cent a print special and then do a bunch. I’m sure nearly every retailer that prints photos has similar specials.
Scissors
Modge Podge – foam brush
Brayer – optional
Used gift card – optional

Supplies

Gathering our supplies

The first thing I did was paint my letter** top and sides with black acrylic paint. (I used the paint that’s about $1 a bottle.) I chose black since I was working with black and white photos but you could always choose a color to compliment a room’s décor or color photos if you’re working with them.

Base coat of acrylic paint

Base coat of acrylic paint

After allowing the letter to dry I gathered the photos I wanted to use. I laid the photos out on my letter and moved them around until I had the placement I liked best. This is the trickiest part. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I tried to vary my photos so I didn’t have several darker ones in a row or two right next to each other that were taken at the same location. After I had the pics where I wanted them I took a photo of my layout with my phone. That way I could always refer back to it if needed to get the placement of the pictures just right.

Next trim your photos to fit the form of your letter. I used a pencil and made light marks to cut the photos to fit the curve of the “C”. You might round off the corners on a couple of pictures if you like so they’re not all square but do what’s pleasing to your eye.

Trim photos to fit letter

Trim photos to fit letter

Now we’re going to glue the pics on the letter with the Modge Podge. Take note of which photos overlap so that you’re gluing the bottom ones down first. With your foam brush apply a thin coat of Modge Podge to the back of your print and another thin coat to your letter. Press your pic down on your modged podged letter and smooth out. This is where I slide the brayer over the pic to eliminate any air bubbles beneath the photo. You can also use your fingers to do the same thing smoothing the print out from the center to the edges. Once that first pic is down just keep going until all photos are adhered to your letter.

Now to glue the photos down

Now to glue the photos down

Now that all your pics are glued down to your letter brush a coat of Modge Podge over the entire project to seal it. Modge Podge dries clear. Work quickly though, the Modge Podge will start to dry soon. It’s here that I used the old gift card for a smoother finish but the brush finish is fine too. Once on the wall you’re not noticing the finish. Let your project dry overnight. When dry attach a wall hanger to the back.
Voila! Now you have a really cool piece to hang in your genealogy space, home office, kids room or give as a gift. This is a great project for every level of creativity. Supplies are inexpensive and this project doesn’t take long to make.

Our finished project!

Our finished project!

If you make a Family Photo Collage or a variation of it send me a pic or two. I’ll credit you and share them in a future article of ideas and inspiration.
Also stop by my website at Genealogy Circle at www.genealogycircle.com and click on Crafting Genealogy at the top. You’ll see some of my other Crafting Genealogy projects with photos and instructions.

Until next time have fun Crafting Genealogy!

*I accidentally used a photo I printed out on my printer and had the entire side of the print start to bleed as I was spreading out that final coat of Modge Podge. I recommend using store printed photos.

Oops! Keep this in mind!

Oops! Keep this in mind!

**I bought my wooden letter “C” at Hobby Lobby when it was 50% off. (I wish I had bought more but will buy additional letters when they’re on sale again.) Even when it was not on sale it was only $2.97 or something like that. Very reasonable. My letter is 12 inches tall but size doesn’t matter, it’s up to you what size you work with.

**This article originally appeared as a blog post on the In-Depth Genealogist site here.**

Comments

  1. Thanks for this tutorial. What a great idea, Cindy!

  2. Cindy,

    This is such a clever idea!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/06/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-june-20-2014.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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