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Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

Are you constantly spending $5.99 on a gorgeous, soon-to-mailed (and then, perhaps, eventually trashed) letterpress card? If you’re like me, that purchase is accompanied by a small sinking feeling that I wish I had made that card, that it was a bit more personal.

Enter this DIY: this project calls for a simple click & print plus a bit of fun in dressing up your newly printed photos. Embellish your photos with a splash of metallic paint (using an old toothbrush!), or go wild with patterned washi tape or matte duck tape.

Never again will you feel like your mailed messages lack a personal touch. And never again will you feel like your 1,000+ iPhone photos are solely living on your phone.

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

This project works for both bulk mailings—wedding thank you notes to write, holiday cards, birthday party invitation—and the one-off realm. If you have a group of friends with upcoming birthdays, simply choose the photos you love and embellish them individually. Mail them or slip them onto gifts as toppers.

What You’ll Need:

  • Photo cards (how-to below)
  • Whatever embellishments you’d like:
  • For metallic splatter: a toothbrush, metallic paint, newsprint.
  • Washi tape, duct tape for geometric lines and patterns.
  • The backside of a post-it note (the sticky part) is a quick sticker-making short cut (and what the hearts are made of pictured in this project).  
Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA


1. Turn your photos into photo cards (flat or folded).

As far as printing goes, you have a few options: Hit up your local FedEx Office or print shop and have them print your pics on a hefty paper stock or photo paper, with files sized to print 5×7, 4 x6, or whatever size you’d like. Trim them yourself or have them do it and voila! Photo cards ready for dressing up.

If you know you have a bulk of friends or family birthdays coming up, choose relevant photos and print them via Social Print Studio. Decorate at home. Shutterfly is also a good online option.

If you have one purpose for mailing cards (wedding thank you’s, birth announcement, holiday card), the best source for this is Artifact Uprising’s folded photo cards (used for the majority of photos below). They’re durable and always come out clear—no way are these babies ending up in the trash.

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

2) Embellish them!

For metallic magic:

A metallic splatter looks so romantic and celebratory, doesn’t it? On a flat surface covered in newsprint, lay out your photo cards. Fill a small container with metallic paint and dunk the head of a toothbrush until all the bristles are covered in paint. Hold the paint-filled toothbrush diagonally over your cards and using your thumb, quickly stroke the bristles to prompt splatter.* Work away from your body (i.e. save your clothes) and don’t be afraid of small drips of paint—it ends up looking great.

*You may want to practice this on a piece of scrap paper first to be sure you like the direction of the splatter and the amount of paint being released as you work.

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

For a no-mess metallic look, you can use metallic paint pens or sharpies. I use these markers from American Craft.

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

DIY-sticker fun:

Place a DIY sticker heart on the chest of a newborn baby, a sticker halo over your favorite friend—the possibilities are endless here. With a small pair of scissors and colored tape, a lot is possible.

Work carefully to cut out hearts, stars, any object you’d like from tape, then press firmly onto your photo card. Adding a dot of glue to the back of the sticker can ensure longer adhesion. Gaffers tape works well (neon, too).

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

Go geometric with washi tape:

Create a washi tape masterpiece on your photo card by trimming tape with scissors and pressing firmly to cards. Cut strips or squares or create a cascade of lines (pictured off the baby’s fist in this project). My favorite source for colored washi is Oriental Trading. Check out wishywashy.com and the Domino shop for patterned washi tape.

Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA

See more DIYs:

How to Turn Your Instagram Photos Into Prints and Gifts DIY Mini Photo Holders What to Do With all those Photos in Your Camera Roll