January 31, 2011

Use what you have: part deux (the puzzle)

Update (February 9, 2011):  My daughter just came up to me holding a large puzzle piece... Yup...it's the one that was missing from the puzzle I used for this project.  It was under the couch the whole time!   HAAAAA!

Well hello there!
Last Thursday I gave you a sneek peek of an art project I was working on. I didn't get much done on it all week until Saturday, when I finished it up. I'm going to do it "tutorial style" for those of you who like details. And for those of you who like visual (like me) I've included so many pictures you almost don't need to written instructions!

Did any of you have any guesses as to what those puzzle pieces would be used for? Let me know how close your guesses were.

So, one day (a couple weeks ago) I was looking through all the photos I need to put into albums/frames and I thought it might be nice to somehow display them all on my walls without cluttering it with frames. Hmmm...
At the same time I happened to be doing the regular sort/organize/chuck/donate system for my kids overflowing toy closet. I came upon a few puzzles that had missing pieces and then the idea came for this project.

The puzzle I used was a pretty good size to glue 4x6 prints to and make some sort of collage..

So here's what you'll need for the puzzle project:

an old puzzle (preferably larger pieces)  
bunch of photos that you don't mind cutting (I always have duplicates laying around)  
white glue
paint brush  
white bristol board  
picture frame  
fabric or paper scraps

So I started with this...
I numbered each puzzle piece because I wanted my photos in a specific order. Next time, I would also number the back so it's a little quicker to put together.

Step 1: Decide which photos you will use. Make sure you pick ones you don't mind cutting or gluing. I usually order duplicates of my prints, so I always have some laying around.

Step 2: Line up each photo with a puzzle piece. Make sure the curves of the puzzle piece are properly placed so they will show the part of the picture you want. You can do this by holding the photo (with puzzle piece behind) up to a light or window.

Step 3: Glue your photos to the puzzle pieces. Completely cover the front of each puzzle piece with glue and make sure your picture is aligned properly. Then stick them together! :)

Step 4: Place each glued photo/puzzle piece between a layer of something that will keep it flat while it's drying. I used my kids' books. :) Let them dry overnight.

Step 5: Now to cut the excess photo from the puzzle. This is the part I found most difficult to make look nice. Carefully trace around the edges of the puzzle with an exacto knife. I ended up using a utility knife and got better results (probably because my exacto knife is beyond dull, old and cheap). Any of you scrapbookers out there might know of a better way to do this. Please share!

Step 6: Cut a piece of bristol board to fit inside your frame. The "puzzle" will be mounted on this. Then trace faint lines with pencil and ruler for more accurate placement of the puzzle pieces. This is key to making it look like a professional piece of art.

Step 7: Now, at this point you can decide exactly how you want your puzzle pieces arranged on the bristol board and then just glue them to it. My original plan was to arrange mine in order, but not interlock the pieces. I didn't like the way this looked, so I actually put the pieces together. The easiest way to do this was to have the pictures face down.
Note: If you plan to put the puzzle together, you will have to actually jam them so the puzzle lies flat. I used a small hammer on the front side of the photos to make sure it looked the way I wanted. Then I taped the joints together. (I also signed and dated the back of the puzzle)

Step 8: Now you need to make the heart. I cut out a few different hearts before I found the one I liked. I ended up using a piece of corduroy. You could use pretty much anything for the heart! (Tin foil, crepe paper, tissue paper, a stamp, thin cork, etc.) The point is, to place the heart inside where the puzzle piece is missing. My missing piece just happened to be directly in the center of the puzzle.

Step 9: Mount the puzzle and the heart onto the bristol board with strong double-sided tape or glue and pop it in your frame! There you go! One thing...before you decide on the frame you're going to use, make sure there is enough room to fit the thick puzzle pieces under the glass and still be able to get the back of the frame on. I would love to see this done in a shadow-box-type frame! If any of you try this (or a variation of this) please share it on my facebook group page! I'd love to see pics!!!

Now that this puzzle project is done, the wheels are turning for some more uses for all those puzzles with missing pieces!! Wouldn't a tiny-piece puzzle make some pretty cute magnets?? Hmmm...

And by the way, this fits into the "Use what you have" category because I had all these supplies collecting dust in my home!  Glad they've got a purpose now!  I just need to figure out where to hang it.  :)



Brenna said...

I LOVE this project, and never would have come up with it on my own. I will definitely be using this idea at our house! :)

Melanie K said...

Estelle...that is SOOOO CUTE!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!

Jody said...

Beautiful!! What a wonderful idea!! I just might have to try this!! Thanks Estelle... =)

Jody Baillie

Marisca said...

LOVE this idea! I may just have to do this too. however I would love a giant puzzle, so I can hang it above our couch. haha. well, who knows. Maybe someday I'll run across one.
You're inspiring Estelle! Keep it up :)

Michelle Smith said...

Sweet idea! Love this!