By Christina VanGinkel
The next time you go through a stack of family photographs, sort out some of them that you know you are never going to frame, put in a photo album, or use to embellish a scrapbook page. If you went through a phase of getting doubles of every roll of film you developed, you will probably have quite a few decent photos amongst them, but even if you did not, chances are there are still quite a few photos that you know you are never going to use. Maybe you have some that are so close to the ones you are keeping, they might as well have been doubles, the lighting is a bit off, or someone’s head is half in and half out of the shot, etc. Basically, any photos that you really do not have a use for, that you feel is just clutter in your stash of photos. Take these pictures, and instead of tossing them out, offer them to your kids with an assortment of craft supplies to embellish some projects of their very own. Not only will you gain the satisfaction of clearing out some of them, your kids will feel like they have hit a prospective gold mine of crafting inspiration.
If the kids are old enough, provide them with a pair of craft scissors, or even a tool such as the Fiskars ShapeXpress, which allows the user to cut out various shapes with the aid of templates or freehand. If they are too young to use scissors or tools like these, offer up your services to help them prepare their new found treasure for greatness!
What they can make with your castoffs will surprise both you and them. Collages of all sorts are easy, fun to assemble, and can be used in various ways. They can cover everything from a picture frame to a small box. Most craft departments stock small wooden boxes in various shapes for no more than a dollar or two a piece. If you have any cast off tins, like those that Altoids Mints come in, or an empty CD case, these could also be covered with a collage of snapshots. If you have a laminator machine, such as those from Xyron that do not require heat or electricity, they could also laminate selections to create magnets for the fridge, or coasters for placing drinks on. Other projects could include transforming some of the altered snapshots into stickers to use on all sorts of things, such as decorating notebooks and journals, and filling a sticker book for some future projects. With some postcard-sized pieces of cardstock, and some good quality tacky glue, they could also make their own postcards to mail to grandparents and other far away relatives.
Photos are good materials to make simple jewelry projects from too. Use Modge Podge to cover over a favorite photo onto a square, flat bead, and make a charm to be used on a necklace or bracelet. If you have small squares, they could even make a pair of earrings for themselves or for a gift.
The possibilities for what they can create are as limitless as their imagination. If many of the photos are duplicates, and there are enough decent shots, they could even create their very own scrapbook. When my daughter was little, I gave her a stack of photos much the same as I have described here. She had an old footlocker in her room, one that had been mine years before. It had definitely seen better days, yet there was a lot of life left in the old chest. She made a huge collage to cover the complete top of the footlocker. She also covered the tray that sat inside of it in old pieces of fabric and embellishments that her grandmother shared with her from her scraps from her sewing room. While the chest did not survive the years, she has pictures of ‘it’ that she made a scrapbook layout of and still talks about it with very fond memories.
The next time you need to clean out an ever-expanding supply of duplicate photos, new or old, and you happen to have a child or two that could use a good project, combine the two for some welcome surprises.