Summer may end and memories may fade, but photographs are meant to last and last. These days, technology makes it easier than ever to snap pictures — but, arguably, harder to enjoy them after the moment has passed. If yours are stuck on your phone or computer, it’s time to find some meaningful ones and learn some clever new ways to display them. Think beyond frames and albums — print photos onto fabric or decals and use them in simple crafts projects that you can appreciate every day, for an instant escape all year round.
Personalize your home decor with printed photo fabric that can be sewn into pillows; these beach and boat scenes go beautifully with blue-and-white patterned fabrics.
HOW-TO:PROFESSIONALLY PRINTED FABRICS
Printing your own fabric works well for some projects, but there are benefits to having your designs printed professionally — you can create larger pieces, choose from a wider range of textiles and usually get sturdier results (with fabrics that are machine-washable, for example). Spoonflower is easy to use — you upload your image, and they do the rest. The pillows shown are made with a linen cotton blend. (For pillow sewing how-tos, go to marthastewart.com/pillow-sewing.)
Sources: Ambala Euro pillow (far left) and Rabari Light Indigo Decorative pillow (far right, in back), john robshaw.com. Throw pillows, in Toulouse Bleu (small stripe) and Sur La Mer Bleu Wide (wide stripe); and Throwbed, in Deauville Lavender & Heather, hedgehouseusa.com. Maine Heritage cot, byerofmaine.com. Large Alfa fiber basket, homestories.com. Not shown: Printed cotton canvas, from $25 a yard, spoonflower.com.
[To accompany photo of bottles and votive holders: Photo #14276176]
LIFE OF THE PARTY
Put a personal spin on party supplies with family vacation memories. Wrap decals around pale-glass bottles and votive holders for table decorations with a charming sea-glass look.
HOW-TO: WATER-SLIDE DECAL PROJECTS
These superthin clear printable decals come on a paper backing. Give them a coat of clear varnish, then soak them briefly in water — they will slide off the backing, ready to be applied to glasses or other smooth surfaces. Trim the edges more precisely once they’re applied.
Clear waterslide decals
Bowl of water
Glass votives or vases
1. On your computer, size photos for desired decals. Print onto decal paper. Spray with varnish; let dry.
2. Cut roughly around images, leaving a small border. Put in water until decals start to peel off backing, 2 to 3 minutes. Slide a decal onto a votive or vase. blot with a paper towel. Let dry slightly, then trim with detail scissors as needed (e.g., to align with edge of pendant). Let dry. For a more durable finish, spray with more varnish.
SOURCES: Waterscape votive, westelm.com. Glass tea-light holder, in White, hm.com. Glass water bottle with wire bail lid, in Light Green, and bottle bud vase, in Blue, jamaligarden.com. Indigo Stripe napkins, johnrobshaw.com. Not shown: Inkjet water-slide decal paper, in Clear, 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, $17 for 20 sheets, decalpaper.com. Kamar varnish, by Krylon, $6.50, dickblick.com.
[To accompany photo of rocks: Photo #14276175]
Weigh down napkins and tablecloths on breezy days with decoupaged rocks (or use them on your desk as paperweights); printing the images onto thin rice paper lets the texture of the rock come through, so the image appears to be painted on.
HOW-TO: ROCK WEIGHTS
Try using thin rice paper with a subtle texture on one side. It is slightly translucent, so once it is adhered to a rock, for example, it becomes “part of the rock,” rather than appearing to be sitting on top.
Découpage medium and brush
1. Choose rocks with one side that is fairly flat. On your computer, size each photo roughly to size of a rock.
2. Print photos on smooth side (not slightly textured side) of rice paper; to help feed paper (which is thin) through printer, first put a strip of tape all the way along one short edge of paper, on textured side; print on the smooth side of the paper. After printing, carefully remove tape.
3. Cut out image, trimming to fit shape of rock. brush découpage medium onto back of photo, press onto rock, and smooth into place. Let dry slightly before coating image with more découpage medium. Let dry.
SOURCES: Rice paper, 9 1/2 inches by 13 inches, $10 for 100 sheets, dickblick.com. Découpage medium, by Martha Stewart Crafts, in Matte, $ 10, michaels.com.
MORE PHOTO TIPS
When reproducing a picture — especially if you’re enlarging it — you want to start with a good quality, or high resolution, image.
Digital photos are made up of colored dots called pixels. The more pixels in an image, the higher the resolution; the higher the resolution, the larger you can make the picture before it becomes grainy. The number of pixels is expressed as a dimension — e.g., 640 by 360. The size of the file (in megabytes, or MB) can also be used as an indicator of quality, but pixels are a more consistent guide.
Today’s digital cameras (both point-and-shoot and the more sophisticated digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR) and smartphones can take good-quality images. Generally speaking, if your device shoots in 8 megapixels or higher, it is capable of taking a picture that can be enlarged well.
However, several factors can lessen the resolution. Cameras can be set to take pictures at low resolution to save space, so check your settings. Emailed photos may have been sent at lower resolutions. Cropping a photo also makes it lower resolution. Taking photos through apps such as Instagram or Facebook, or uploading them to a site, often makes files smaller for use online. So use your phone’s camera instead (and save the original, rather than relying only on the online version).
Many photo-printing websites have guidelines on reproducing images. As an example, one recommends a minimum resolution of 540 by 360 pixels for a 4-by-6-inch photo, and a minimum of 2,100 by 1,400 for a 20-by-30-inch poster. The projects here (with the exception of the pillows that call for professionally printed materials) can be printed at home on most inkjet printers.
(Questions may be sent by email to: email@example.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually. For more information on the topics covered in the Ask Martha column, visit www.marthastewart.com.)