We live in a fairly small, 1920s era home that has NOT a lot of room for a lot of furniture on which to proudly display a lot of pictures in a lot of frames. Besides, I’ve filled every inch of flat surface with pictures in frames for most of my life and frankly, I’m bored with them. But all those Instagram pictures… with all those awesome filters… and all those awesome artsy shots that I convince myself I’ve taken… what to do? And since I’m on a kick of printing out my pictures (remember this blog?)…
It was from this necessity that a project was born.
I won’t call it a craft. Jen and I don’t craft. Please.
I got to thinking that Instagram prints are 4×4. And there is a plank of wood called a 4×4. What if I cut a 4×4 at lengths of 1, 2, and 3 inches, decoupaged my Instagram pictures to the pieces, then arranged them on a wall? The different lengths would give the project some depth. Yes. That’s what I would do.
My uncle had a 4×4 that he cut for me. I stained the blocks, printed out my pictures, bought some Mod Podge and an applicator sponge, and sat down to work. Here’s the finished product:
It was super simple and it’s pretty stunning in person. Here are the step-by-step instructions if you’d like to do it yourself (or a link to the project in my Etsy store, if you don’t want to tackle it on your own.)
Step One: Decide how many Instagram pictures you want to use. I used 42. Not all of these were originally Instagram pictures, though. I created a separate Instagram account just for this project. I took pictures of some old pictures and used some from my existing library. I decided to do all black and white, but you certainly could do color prints, too. You need to make sure that you get them printed at a place that prints Instagram prints. Walgreens and Shutterfly both offer the 4×4 printing option.
I mean seriously, check out this super artsy picture:
Don’t die from the cuteness.
Step Two: Do some math. You will want to cut a variety of block thicknesses. I chose 1, 2, and 3 inches. You’ll need one block per photo. Then decide how many 1-inch blocks, 2-inch blocks, and 3-inch blocks, then add them all up. That’s how long of a 4×4 you’ll need.
Ugh. I hate the maths.
Step Three: Mark and saw your blocks. You can round the corners or leave them square. My uncle rounded and sanded mine. What a nice guy!
Get yourself a good uncle who will do yours, too.
Step Four: Choose a color of wood stain. I chose MiniWax Dark Walnut. I applied just one coat, but apply to your heart’s content. It’s important to get some on the front of the block too. I’ll tell you why later. Let the blocks dry overnight.
Step Five: Now. There’s something that I didn’t know. A 4×4 isn’t 4×4. It’s 3 5/8 x 3 5/8. Neat. So you’ll have to crop your pictures down. The blocks won’t be a perfect square, either. I traced the block on the back of the picture, then cut it out with an exacto knife. So crafty. But inevitably you won’t cut the picture perfectly. So the stain on the front of the block will cover up any cutting mistakes you make.
Step Six: Apply a LIGHT coat of Mod Podge, or other decoupage glue onto the block. Place your picture on the block and press down lightly. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over your picture to seal it. Make sure you apply this evenly, in strokes that are all the same direction. You can sort of see the stroke marks on the finished product.
Allow all your blocks to dry overnight. These pictures are so cute. That’s Mazie in the snow on the left, Violet at her 2nd birthday party, then an old picture of my dad and his mother taken in Germany. Right? Be still my heart.
Step Seven: Hanging them on the wall… I realized that 42 nail holes in my wall would be a super bummer, especially since I’m renting. So I used small Command Picture Strips to essentially Velcro them to the wall! Easy application, and easy removal, someday.
I laid them out first on my dining room table in a random sort of pattern (there are two pictures of us as little kids and I positioned them so that he is looking up at me, Brady Bunch style… awwww…), then just transferred them to the wall. They don’t need to be measured and perfect. The perfection lies in the imperfection. (Note to self: apply that philosophy to all areas of my life.)
The great thing about this project is that it’s fluid. It can be added to or moved fairly easily. If you get mad at someone, just unvelcro their block and decoupage a different picture over top of it. Just kidding. Or not…
The pictures I chose are very personal. There are two pictures of my dad, who passed away 3 years ago, with my girls. There are pictures of each of us with our children. There is a picture of me and my BFF, a picture of a family recipe written in his mom’s handwriting, my favorite one of my nephew holding Violet, me and my mom and Grandma on Christmas Day this year… each picture is so special and so sweet. They almost break my heart, in a good way, at every stinking meal.
I kept mine all matte finish. I didn’t want a super-glossy look. So I chose the matte Mod Podge and I didn’t do a gloss sealer over the stain. If you want gloss, that’s totally fine. Go with what your instinct tells you. It’s all about you.
There are SO MANY pictures that didn’t make the cut. It’s surprising how many pictures can actually fit in a space. Luckily I have more wall space…