Time requiredComplexityTools &Supplies

1 hour

Easy

Common

A few month ago my talented photographer of a friend Hui Chen gave me a stack of photos that she no longer had any use for. Consequently it sat on my shelf for a while. I looked at it from time to time wondering how I could find a good use for them. I believe all of us creative people have a common problem: we accumulate a random assortment of objects and materials thinking that it will come in handy for a project one day. And then said materials accumulate and what was once a lovely workshop turns into a hoarder’s nest.

So one day I set out to find a use for those photos. It turns out that at that time I was in the process of making a bunch of postcards to send to my friends before relocating to another country. When I do so, I usually make my own envelopes covered with colorful fabric. It gave me an idea: couldn’t I use the photos to make these envelopes I needed? Surely the result would be quite unique! And it was.

I’m happy to share share the process that I followed here with you today.


Requirements


Tools

  • A printer to print-out the pattern
  • A pair of scissors or an X-acto knife
  • A piece of cotton rag to spread-out the white glue
  • A little strip of paper or plastic to apply the contact cement
  • A pencil
  • A ruler is useful to help with cutting if you’re using the precision knife and to fold the flaps

Bill of Materials

  • General purpose white glue
  • Contact cement
  • Tac adhesive putty
  • A sheet of A4 paper to back the block of glued photos

Pattern

The free pattern can be downloaded here.

Walk-through


Printing and cutting the pattern

The PDF for the pattern can be found here.

Print it on A4 paper and cut-out following the outline of the envelope.

Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the test box on the pattern to ensure that its sides are 5cm long.

Print on thick paper to make it easier to trace around the pattern. 200g/cm2 and above is ideal (as long as your printer can handle it)


Arranging the photos

Arrange the photos in a composition that pleases you.

You’ll want to arrange your photos so that their inner edges overlap by at least 1cm so that we can glue them on top of each other later on.

Make sure that the panel thus created is big enough to fit the pattern.

Finally stabilize the photos in their position by applying some tac adhesive putty. This is so that we can flip the panel over during the next step while keeping the arrangement.


Marking the edges of the overlapping photos

Use a pencil to lightly mark the position of all the edges on the overlapping photos.

Start by the imprinted side then repeat the operation on the back.

Number the photos on the back according the the order they are overlapping in. This will help us glue them back into the same arrangement.

Separate the photos one by one starting by the bottom-most layer and number the overlaps thus made visible with the corresponding photo number to give you an indication of which edge goes where (again to help with the gluing process in the next step).


Gluing the photos together

Apply contact cement to all the areas representing an overlap that you marked earlier on the front and the back of the photos.

Allow some time for the contact cement to dry. It should be dry to the touch.

Next start gluing the photos together, starting from the first layer (the photo that will be on top of all the other if viewed from the imprinted side) and making your way to the bottom-most layer.


Creating a backing by gluing the sheet of paper

Apply a generous amount of white glue to the back of your composition and spread it around evenly with a cotton rag.

Quickly press the sheet of paper on top of it.

Let it completely dry before moving on to the next step.


Drawing the outline of the pattern

Pretty self-explanatory…Use a pencil to draw the outline of the pattern on the paper backing.


Cutting the envelope into shape

Use an X-acto knife or a pair of scissors to cut around the outline of the pattern that we traced in the last step to give your envelope its final shape.


Folding the flaps

Use the edge of your ruler to help you fold the 4 flaps of the envelope.

No need to apply to much pressure on the fold. Indeed if you were to do so the photo might crack on the edge.


Gluing the lateral and bottom flaps together

Apply contact cement to the inside of the two lateral edges of the bottom flap, as well as on the outside of the corresponding edges of the lateral flaps.

Wait for it to dry and press the bottom flap down on the lateral flaps to finish the assembly of your envelope.

You might be wondering about how to close the envelope when you will use it. I usually seal my envelopes with sealing wax so this is what I intend to do. However if I didn’t use this method I would add a little bit of double sided tape at the back of the top flap to easily stick it closed.


Final result

I hope you enjoyed following along this tutorial.

As always, please feel free to share any feedback about this tutorial or any project idea you’d like to see posted here.

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