A Short Course Book
Displaying & Sharing
Your Digital Photos

Photo Gifts and Novelties

Player or team photos can be put on bats. Courtesy of NovaChrome.
Badge-a-Minit has a Starter Kit you use to make 2-1/4" buttons.
A photo cake courtesy of Icing Images.
Backlighting can make a huge difference in a photo. Here is one with and without the effect. Image and photo Paul Blackmore Photography.
The Trivista Paper PhotoCube program prints out six photos. When you cut them out and fold over the tabs, you can glue together your 3D cube.
HagoJ puts images on gold pendants. Photos courtesy of HagoJ.

With improvements in printing technology, it's now possible to put digital images on almost any surface or product. Some of these, such as fabrics, books, glass, granite, and the like are discussed elsewhere in this book. This section is kind of a catchall of just some of the other interesting or fun things to do with your images. But it's just the start. Visit photo printing services to find others. Here are just a few possibilities to get you in the mood.

  • Apparel, tote bags, hats, or anything else can be embellished with your photos.
  • Baseball cards, and even bats, with pictures of your kids.
  • Ceramic items such as coasters, tiles, mugs, ornaments and the like.
  • Mouse pads for yourself or family and friends.
  • Calendars. Many photo-editing programs provide a variety of templates for creating calendars.
  • Photo buttons. Badge-a-Minit let's you use your images in professional quality 2-1/4" or 3" buttons— just like the ones you see in retail stores. They make the buttons, button-making machines, and button design software. Another way to create buttons is to use clear snap together buttons with a pin back. You just print your image and cut it to size, insert it between the two button halves and snap them together.
  • Photo mosaics. You've seen them on movie posters, stores in the mall, and magazine covers— those photos created from thousands of smaller images called tiles. The smaller images are selected and placed in the best possible position by a computer program such as Image Puzzler. The computer software evaluates each tile for shape, color, texture, image content, and more before deciding where to place it in the overall picture.
  • Puzzles with your own photos are easy to make using a precut jigsaw puzzle designed for iron-on transfers. Just as with T-shirt transfers, you reverse the image and print it onto the transfer paper in a size that matches the precut puzzle. You then iron it onto the surface of the puzzle. When it's cooled you loosen and separate the puzzle pieces. There are also places where you can send your photo and they will do the printing for you, returning the completed puzzle.
  • Photos on food. If you have an appetite for such things, you can have your photos on cakes, cookies, and assorted other edibles. Unfortunately, you can't do this yourself because you have to use FDA approved edible inks and print on an edible material. Check first with your local bakery to see if they offer the service. If not, Google "photo cakes" and you'll find lots of choices. You can either order a complete photo-enhanced cake or other photo product, or order icing sheets that you can apply to your own baked goods. Either way you send them a photo, often as an e-mail attachment and they send back the cake or an icing sheet that you lay on your's cake's frosting. In some cases you can select a theme to surround your image or add a text message. Some of these icing sheets are made from sugar or cornstarch, others from potato or rice paper. The later two don't bond to the icing, and are difficult to cut with a knife. Instructions on how to apply the icing sheet to the cake should come with the photo.
  • Backlit photos. Backlit photos have been used for years in store displays. The image is printed on a transparent film and placed in an illuminated box or frame. The result is like looking at a transparency instead of a print. Colors are much richer and the effect more dramatic. You can easily make backlit displays or order them on the Internet. The two things you need are an image printed on backlit film and a frame or light box with lights embedded in it. Unlike large commercial displays that are backlit with fluorescent bulbs, some home versions light a sheet of plastic through the edges so the sheet glows, or use smaller bulbs so the frames are thinner. Frames are available in tabletop and wall mount models and in a variety of sizes. Keep in mind that to light up, these frames have to be plugged in. Photo lamp shades are another way to backlight photos. To make this work, the shade must be cylindrical in shape and have a ledge around the bottom to hold the photo. The shade must also allow the maximum amount of light to pass through.
  • Image cubes. You've probably seen those small lucite cubes into which you can slide photos for display on a desktop. You can make software versions of these that revolve on your screen, or you can lay out and print your own images so you don't even need a plastic cube to slip them into. After printing, cut out and assemble the photo cube.
  • Photo jewelry. There is nothing new about photographic jewelry. There are many examples from over one hundred years ago using daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and paper images. Photo-illustrated bracelets, brooches, buttons, earrings, stickpins, viewers, rings, pendants, and pins have been made since the mid-1800s. Traditionally photos were put into lockets or small frames worn as pins or pendants. Today, that remains a common and easy way to do it. However, there are other ways made possible by digital photography. One way is to use special inks and papers to transfer images to porcelain or other coated surfaces on gold or silver. Another way is to laser etch a black & white image into a metal surface. Finally, a paper image can be fused onto or placed behind a transparent glass or mineral face or coated in some other way to make it waterproof. Jewelry created by laser etching will last a very long time but any process using color images is prone to fading over time if not stored in a dark place.
One process uses a Canon 900 laser printer and CMYK ceramic toners to print water slide decals at 300 ppi up to 11 x 17 inches in size. A cover coat is applied to protect the printed image before it is applied to the surface of a ceramic, porcelain, enamel or borosilicate glass object and then fired in a kiln at 800 C. The image is of near photographic quality and about as permanent as an image can be.

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