a photo becomes a functional gift

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This is something I’ve been wanting to try; Mother’s Day gave me the perfect excuse. 

Jeff and I recycle our mixed-nut containers and turn them into useful pieces of art by applying the same process on them as we do our upcycled bottles. (Some samples can be seen here and here in our Etsy shop.)

But I have been imagining wrapping one of them in a photo.

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This photo is family favorite of ours. It is a picture of my great-grandmother and her children.

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Her oldest daughter was my Granny---and my mother’s Mama.

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It didn’t take long for me to decide which photo to use for my mom’s gift box. There were a couple of considerations, though. The container is 4 inches in diameter and only a little less than 3 1/2 inches tall.

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So the image had to cropped at a 13 x 3.375 inch ratio. Fortunately, I was able to get everyone’s faces in there, for the most part. And, was able to print it on legal size paper.


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I cut the photo out with scissors and applied spray adhesive to the back. I recommend this route of attaching the photo to the canister, as opposed to other forms of adhesive. Lining the photo up, on a cylinder, is not easy. You probably won’t get it right the first time. The spray adhesive stays tacky for a good length of time, and the paper remained strong---even after I took it off for the fourth time and re-sprayed the adhesive on again.

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Finally, I got it right. When I measured, I allowed for a small overlap at the seam. To give it a continuous look, I trimmed around my great-aunt’s bow in her hair to allow it to tab-over onto her mother’s shoulder.

For the round top, I knew that I wanted to use one of my photos taken through a small lens I had removed from an old photography enlarger, used for developing film.

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When I hold my camera up to it, I’m able to get really close to (like right on top of) my subject. It creates a black, round frame…

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like this picture of jasmine…

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and this of red penta…

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butterfly milkweed…

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a rose…

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I just needed to decide which.

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ok…there is a reason why dragon flies allow you to get so close to them. It because of all of the mosquitoes, your body is attracting, and swarming around you. They eat mosquitoes---did you know that?

I knew better than to choose that one.

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I chose this one. It is an un-invited weed, and I don’t know what it is called, but I think they resemble daisies. And, the daisy is my mom’s favorite flower.

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I printed the image out to 3.5 inches tall on the paper, cut it out, and sprayed on adhesive to the back.  I had two tops to chose from…

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and chose the one with the black rim.

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I think she’ll like it, and I *know* my sisters will. I imagine she’ll keep her hard candies in it.

I haven’t been able to stop looking at my Granny’s face, while working on this post. I see my face in there, when I was child…my children’s faces, and my sister’s children’s faces…

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to it myself. And whether you live where Mothers Day is observed or not, whether you are a mother or not, sit back and put your feet up for a bit on Sunday, and think about who loves you. Your mom would like that.


  1. This is a beautiful piece of work and a brilliant tutorial! How cleverly you solved the overlap cutting around the bow!

    Marmalade Moon received a Kreativ Blogger award. Part of that award is that I need to pass it on so I've passed it onto you! To learn more about the award you can go over to http://www.marmalademoon.com/. Congratulations and take care!

  2. Kate, I can’t express to you enough how much I appreciate your comments, and how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you, so much.

  3. I love what you did with this container. If I received this as a present I would be very happy. Congrats on the shout out from Kate...kind of nice to know that someone is this world things we are inspirational!

  4. This is such a beautiful idea! I can't wait to share this link on Twitter next week. Thanks for the beautiful how-to, Dale!

  5. this is so sweet dale, it turned out just beautifully!

  6. Megs, thanks! Congrats to you as well. :-) And I agree with you; it is very nice to know.

  7. What a great idea for recycling a container. Thanks for the tutorial, great tips.

    I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

  8. Valerie, I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks. Mother's Day was perfect; I hope yours was as well. :)

  9. What a beautiful (and useful!) way to preserve this previous little piece of history. I'm sure your mum will treasure it.