A Beautiful Mess

abeautifulmess.com · Oct 16, 2014

Make a Family Photo Board Book

Reading is kind of a big deal at our house, but as much as we value books, we love family most of all! I remember seeing this family photo board book idea on A Cup of Jo and thinking I would love to try making something like that for our kiddo. It turned out to be a great project that Lucy just loves! We enjoy looking at each page and watching her point at the faces when we call out the names. Pretty soon she'll be spelling the names, and then you know what comes next.... Ivy League college applications!

After a couple of tries, I figured out a quick and easy way to make this board book using common crafting tools and supplies. It looks pretty nice, and I think it'll hold up well too! Check out the simple instructions below.

-5" x 5" photos & cover images printed onto matte/luster photo paper (I used Canon luster photo paper.)
-spray mount (permanent)
-X-acto blade replacements
-duct tape or clear packaging tape

-cutting mat
-steel ruler
-X-Acto blade

Step One: Cut 5" x 5" pieces of chipboard. It's important that each size is exact, or your final pages will be a little wonky. But if you don't mind the wonkiness, then I don't mind, and I doubt your toddler will mind either. Not all people need to be perfectionists!

Step Two: Cut your photos to the same size as your chipboard squares— 5" x 5". I printed two 5" x 5" photos with names on them onto each sheet of photo paper, and then trimmed them down to their exact size.

If you don't have a printer at home, you can take your 8.5" x 11" files to a copy store, or go to a drug store to get 5" x 7" photos printed, and then cut them down to size when you get home. It is important that your paper be photo quality though, so it can hold up to being handled frequently. Also— if you don't have software to add names to the photos, you can use a Sharpie paint pen to add white or black writing on the photos.

Step Three: Use duct tape or packaging tape* to connect each page together. Leave a tiny bit of space between each page for the thickness of the photos that you'll adhere to them. Carefully trim away the excess tape with an X-Acto blade.

*For the first book I made, I used duct tape for this step, but I wasn't happy with how thick the tape was, so for the second book, I used clear packaging tape and found I liked how it turned out much better.

At this point, check to make sure you have enough chipboard pages for each photo you plan to put inside the book. Don't forget to add photos of family pets!

Step Four: Arrange your photos onto a clean, disposable surface* and spray with an even coat of adhesive. Make sure the back of each photo is evenly coated (all the way to the edges), but try not to use too much adhesive or it will build up under the paper and goop will ooze out the sides of the page.

Carefully match up the corners of your photo to the corners of the chipboard piece it's going on. Starting at the outer edge of the paper, smooth the paper onto the chipboard with the back of your hand. For aesthetic purposes, I think it's more important that the outer edges of the photos match up with the chipboard than for the inner edges to meet up. If you cut them perfectly to size, it won't matter– it'll be a perfect fit!

*Do not lay new photos onto a backdrop that has already been used, or it will get adhesive onto the front of your photos.

Step Five: Once all of the pages have been filled with photos, it's time to add the book's binding tape. I used white duct tape for this because it matches the background of the cover photo I used. Simply smooth the tape onto the front cover alongside the binding, then smooth it onto the edge of the binding, and then onto the back of the book. Trim away the excess tape.

Step Six: Spray adhesive onto the back of the cover photos just as you did the inside photos, and put them in place, smoothing from the outside in.

Note about adhesive: When I first attempted this project, I tried using Mod Podge to affix each image to the chipboard, but it was wrinkling my photos and warping the chipboard— not to mention it took forever waiting for each spread to dry before continuing to the next one! I considered using an ATG gun (basically just double-sided tape), glue dots, or rubber cement, but in the end, spray adhesive won out because of it's durability. Spray mount, though less forgiving when placing each image, worked like a dream! I know from past experience with Scotch's Super 77 Spray Adhesive that it holds very well over time when the appropriate amount is used. (Do not— I repeat DO NOT cut corners when it comes to buying quality spray adhesive! It's not worth it!) The luster finish of the photo paper I used protects the images from sticky hands and will hopefully last for a long time!

Once I figured out the best method to use for making this board book, it was really easy and surprisingly quick! Taking the time to accurately cut each page was the bulk of the work involved, but it goes much better when you frequently change your X-Acto blade. Cutting chipboard will dull a blade pretty quickly.

This board book was a fun little project, and simple enough that I know I will do it again soon. I think the next book I make will include photos of Lucy's favorite places and favorite things. She'll be spelling I-C-E--C-R-E-A-M in no time! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine of the Signature Collection and Pearl from the Fresh Collection.

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