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How to Make Photo Mosaic Cards

These photo mosaic cards would make great holiday gifts. Follow these instructions from viewer Roberta James to make your own cards.

I was so totally taken with the box of mosaic photo cards from viewer Roberta James of Las Cruces, N.M., that I thought they might make a good segment for one of our workshop shows. I thought that a box of three or six of the cards would be a wonderful gift. Handsome, unusual, handmade, rich-looking yet rather inexpensive. Time is what they take, not money. Roberta not only sent in several cards but a handsome little spiral book giving all the details on how to make them, along with step-by-step photos. The original segment that inspired her was one done by Jennifer Obertin on show CDS-1233.

For Roberta's version, you will need photographs; if you snap snapshots, I’m quite sure you have a number of pictures in your collection that are simply not photo-album worthy. They might be slightly out of focus, boring, or perhaps you took too many at the same time and place so they are redundant. In any case, you want what might be considered bad photos.


bad photographs*
card stock for basic card
envelopes to match
sticker paper or label paper
black permanent ink pad
several different rubber stamps
embossing powder in colors of choice
embossing heat gun
glue stick
craft knife
mat board

*Either matte or glossy photos can be used. If you use matte, you can spray them glossy.

Roberta found that pictures that had been printed on Fuji paper worked the best as far as resisting blistering when embossing. We found that other papers such as Kodak can be used but are much more sensitive to the heat and extra care need be taken. Experiment first. If you have trouble, simply ask at your photo developing place if they will have your photos printed on Fuji paper. We used several kinds of paper.


1. Select photos that are considered not really good photos (figure A).

2. They should have some open spaces in lighter colors so that stamped images can be seen (figure B). The more color in the photos, the more color to the finished cards--although subtle tones are certainly acceptable.

3. Using the permanent ink pad, stamp and one or more rubber stamps one or more times on the photos (figure C).

4. In most cases, you will want to cover most of the picture (figure D). Stamp in any direction. You are covering the image beneath. Take care that the stamp does not slide.

5. With a heat tool, quickly dry the ink. Be careful not to linger and blister the paper.

6. Using a ruler and craft knife, cut the photos into squares, rectangles and triangles. Sort according to color (figure E).

7. Cut label sheet to 5" x 3-3/4". Peel and place on work surface sticky side up. Try not to touch the surface with your fingers.

8. Select one of the stamped pieces to be the focal piece on your card and place it in desired position on the sticky paper (figure F). Leave room around it to add other cut up pieces on all four sides.

9. Arrange mosaic pieces in a pleasing manner around your focal image and continue to fill in the entire sticky piece allowing about 1/8 inch between each of the pieces for the "grout" like you saw in figure F. Do not worry if they spill over the outside edges.

10. When all pieces have been positioned, turn piece over and cut off the extending edges (figure G).

11. Place piece on a large piece of paper and sprinkle with embossing powder, being certain to generously cover all of the open areas (figure H).

12. Shake off all excess embossing powder then use a heat gun to emboss (figure I). This is the tricky part. Whether you are using a low- or a high-heat gun, hold it farther away from the paper than you usually do and hold it at an angle.

13. You want to emboss the powder, but you do not want to bubble the film (see note at top) (figure J). It is recommended that you practice this technique on scraps of photos before making cards.

14. When entire piece is completed, attach to a piece of card stock cut 5-1/4" x 4"; then layer to a folded note card cut approximately 1/4 inch larger on all sides. Embellish with charms, ribbons or cords if desired (figure K).

Note: We boxed several cards in a small gift box that we painted a compatible color then glued a copy of one of the cards to the top of the box. Only a ribbon was needed to complete the gift presentation (figure L).

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