Create Decorative Photo Mats for Use in Your Paperweight Designs

Creating a photo mat for your paperweight designs is easy.  This post will show you how I made a simple mat out of colored paper.  I'll also explain different variations that will help you achieve a variety of looks.

The purpose of the mat is to offer a decorative border for your photograph while providing an area that may be used to apply decoration, add a small trinket, or feature text.

For this project I used a hole punch that produces a cameo-shaped opening with a scalloped edge (Recollections 1.5", Michaels Stores).  For the mat I used blue scrapbook cardstock.  The 'baby boy' dimensional sticker was part of a set by K&Company (Sweet Pea Little Prince Grand Adhesions).  The paperweight kit style is the Heirloom Rectangle.

The first step is to trace around your paper kit's mounting board onto the paper being used for your mat.  You can use solid color paper, patterned paper, or paper you've printed a design or lettering on.  For example, next to your child or grandchild's school portrait, you can print their name, the date, the name of the school, and the grade they're in.

After you've cut out your photo mat, create the opening for your image with a decorative punch.  These may be purchased at most craft stores.  My local Michaels and JoAnn stores have a fairly large selection.  Martha Stewart Crafts has a number of punches available.  If you don't see these with the other brands, they may displayed with the Martha Stewart Crafts products.

If you don't have a photo that's the right size to fit into the mat's opening, adjust the size of the image on your computer and print it on quality photo paper that resists fading.  The photo should be slightly larger than the opening so you can adhere it to the back of the mat.

Apply a small amount of glue to the reverse side of the photo mat.  You can also use permanent mounting tape for this step.

After the glue has dried, place the mat (with image) onto the adhesive side of the mounting board.

A dimensional sticker (K&Company, Sweet Pea Little Prince Grand Adhesions) was placed in the open area to the right of the photo.  Other design ideas include a photo of baby's first hair cut with a lock of hair displayed on the mat; a photo taken at the beach with a few small seashells; or a wedding photo accompanied by a few pressed flowers.

Once the design was finished, the paperweight was completed by placing the design face-down into the recessed area on the bottom of the paperweight (shown above).  The plush bottom pad was then placed over the base of the paperweight, holding the mounting board in place.

My next design post will include a couple different variations using a photo mat, including designs that feature text and small mementos.


How Do You Display Your Digital Memories?

While I was setting up for a design piece for my blog this morning, and about to recommend a project involving photographs, it occurred to me that we’re not printing pictures the way we did in the past.

Now that film cameras are relics of a bygone era, and everything has gone digital, how do you display the memories you’ve captured in photographs?  How has digital photography changed the way you chronicle your life in pictures?

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 | Categories:


Collection of Low Profile Skeleton Keys from K&Company

One of the many memories I have of my grandmother's house, a small bungalow just outside Los Angeles, is a collection of decades-old keys that hung in a kitchen cabinet, seemingly forgotten.  Perhaps the only thing they opened was a memory or two - a first car, her childhood home, maybe a key she brought with her from Germany when she was a child.  What I would give for those keys now!

Skeleton keys are among my favorite items to use in my paperweight designs.  Unfortunately, many keys have a profile too deep to fit the interior of several PhotoWeights paperweight styles.  This is why I wanted to share a recent find that offers the look of timeworn keys while providing a low profile and a flat surface that make them easy to adhere to fabric and paper.  The set is called Life's Journey Keys Metal Art (565227) by K&Company.  (UPC 643077565227).

The "Life's Journey" collection includes ten different keys that range from 1.5" to 3.5" long with a thickness of 1/16" - 1/8", depending on the style.  The finishes include aged brass, copper, and steel.  The photo above shows the depth of one of the keys in the collection.

These keys are perfect when displayed alone on scrapbook paper.  You can also use them to create mixed media vignettes for your paperweights.

If you need some inspiration for your paperweight designs, visit a local craft store to see all the different metal art and embellishments available these days.  Bring a paperweight with you to help you envision how items will appear and fit within the display area.


Applying Charms and Accents to the Top Surface of Your Paperweight

I love finding new products to use in my paperweight designs.  The latest is a collection of charms called art-i-cake by Amy Labbe (Distributed by Horizon Group USA, Inc.)  The designs truly capture the look of handcrafted pieces I've seen in magazines featuring mixed media artwork.  The quality is also much higher than many other charms and findings sold in typical craft stores.

Amy Labbe's line of charms (pictured above) includes some pieces thin enough to fit the display area depth of most of our paperweight kits.  Unfortunately, many of the larger, statement pieces are far too big.  The solution?  Think outside the box... or the paperweight.

This idea post is all about taking advantage of the prime real estate on the top surface of your paperweight by applying charms, decorative accents, and other items.

For this project I used the "Sassy Girl" charm (Item AL44251, UPC 765940442517) which came on a card with a cute shoe charm I'll save for another project.  I also used PhotoWeights Oval Paperweight Kit.

I applied a clear urethane glue to the reverse side of the charm (Liquid Fusion).  Choose a maximum strength glue that will bond to glass, as well as the material being glued to the paperweight.

Here's how I applied the charm to the paperweight.  Because the glue will run, I left the charm face-down on my work table.  After cleaning the top surface of the paperweight with glass cleaner,  I slowly positioned the paperweight over the charm and lowered it into place.  Once the glass made full contact with the glue, I carefully turned the paperweight over, made sure the charm was centered, and allowed the glue to dry thoroughly.

After the glue has dried, and your charm is securely bonded to the glass, you can place a photo, decorative paper, fabric, or other material underneath the glass to act as a background.  (Simply use the finishing kit that comes with each paperweight kit.)  You can also leave the paperweight as it is if you prefer the look of the clear glass.

I'm a huge fan of scrapbook paper that's sold by the individual sheet.  Don't be afraid to play with patterns.  In the photo above, I show the paperweight against two very different papers - solid green and a black and tan damask.  As you can see, the result is two very different looks.  This sassy girl paperweight called for something bold!  (Recollections, Black and Tan Damask, 12" x 12" scrapbook paper, Michaels).

I hope this post has given you some new ideas on how to design and finish your paperweights.  If you have any questions, or if you need some help or advise on a particular design dilemma, please don't hesitate to send me an email or leave a comment.  I'm always happy to help.