Jigsaw Puzzles In a Book

Pictures of three jigsaw puzzles that were painted with glue to save.

We all know photocrafting is good for scrapbooks — lots of family memories, pictures of weddings, baby books. How about a scrapbook of jigsaw puzzles? My friend, Anita, has a long family tradition of doing a jigsaw puzzle together at Christmastime. The puzzles represent happy family times so they kept them. Now, many years later, they have a collection of jigsaw puzzles that has outgrown their walls and storage spaces. What to do? Photocrafting, of course!

Anita has provide the blog post for us this month. Thanks, Anita!

Anita says…

The pictures shows one wall on which some of the jigsaw puzzles are displayed for the Christmas holidays.
Puzzles displayed at holiday time.

My goal was to memorialize the Christmas jigsaw puzzle collection that we displayed every Christmas. My husband had begun the jigsaw puzzle tradition with our two children in 1984. I used puzzle-saver or Mod Podge glue to paint the faces of the puzzles so they could be hung as pictures during the holidays. But 36+ years later, storing them is a burden and it is time to let them go. A special book will allow us to hang on to the memories.

Shutterfly had been my go-to for creating photo books and greeting cards for years. In January 2021, they decided to upgrade and introduced a Beta version which I found completely unsatisfactory. Controls or tools I was familiar with were missing or simply did not work. Unfortunately, I was locked into using their Beta and not able to access the former Classic version of Shutterfly. After several attempts to create a photo album, I vented my frustration with a friend who recommended I try Picaboo. She suggested that the quality of their product was very similar to Shutterfly and maybe, best of all, Groupon offers coupons with significant savings.

Picaboo had great 5 minute videos for introducing and using its tools. So I started over on my project using Picaboo instead of Shutterfly! First I photographed and edited each of the 36 puzzles using FastStone. Each image was renamed with the proper year before importing them all into Picaboo. My plan was to use only one photo per page to make the details easier to enjoy. When imported to my computer, the photos easily fell into the photo tray in chronological order. I chose one-photo layouts as I worked through the book. As recommended by Picaboo, I waited to design the front and back covers until the end.

A picture of the Picaboo screen with controls.
The interface was very clean with images easily accessible in the tray, controls visible on the layout, and tools available on the left.

I wanted a square album but, because all the pictures were rectangular (landscape or vertical), my attempts to place images on the page were challenging.

A jigsaw image and an image of the way it is automatically cropped when placed on a page.
Importing the original photo in the layout could result in cropped images.

I learned how to resize them to fill the layout placeholder. This was my process:

1)  by using the sides and top/bottom pulls of the photo placeholder, I would expand the image until I could see all the details of the puzzle. Often I was expanding well beyond the page boundaries.

 2) using the four outer corner handles for cropping with aspect ratio, I moved the corners in until the size fit nicely into its placeholder’s space.

 Picaboo provided guides indicating where to position and maintain alignment of the page elements. 

Two pages with the images properly laid out.
The resized images fit well and compliment each other on facing pages.

My design decision was to use plain or very simple backgrounds for each page to avoid distracting from puzzle details. Thus, I discarded the red striped background in the earlier illustration. For consistency I framed each photo in either black or white and captioned the date to match the color of the frame. I think Shutterfly offered a greater variety of backgrounds, embellishments, and stickers. But for this project in Picaboo, I Iiked the simplicity of fewer background choices and shunned embellishments or stickers. Avoiding busyness around the puzzle images was important to me.

As a summary of how we used the puzzle collection as a wall gallery in 2020, I chose a 2-page spread to complete my album.

An image of a two page spread of various walls with jigsaw puzzles displayed during the Christmas holidays.
The final two pages show a spread of the puzzles.

Picaboo recommended doing the cover at the end. I think that was wise because by the time I had completed the project, I had a better sense of my goals. I love the simple and bright pattern which I chose for the cover. I will never lose track of this album because of its bright and cheery cover. I like that Picaboo’s cover format included labeling the spine. I experimented with vertical and with horizontal text and decided which was more readable on my bookshelf.

The text against the background pattern was hard to read so I created a solid text box for the titles:  Select text box/ edit text background color/ select white/ send to back.

The cover of the book is simply swirls of red and green with  the title "Christmas Puzzles 1984-2020".
The cover is cheerful and includes a title and dates on the spine as well as on the front.

When I received my order, I was disappointed because I thought I was getting lay-flat pages. So, I went back to Picaboo, and wouldn’t you know it? They had started with a new and improved version. Sound familiar? A new (beta) version of Shutterfly is what sent me to Picaboo!! I have a terrible sense of timing apparently.

This new Picaboo version is wonderful with updated and plentiful backgrounds but now there is a clear distinction between lay-flat and lay-flat spineless (which is what I believed I was getting). Following my previous experience, once again I was unable to access the “classic” version I worked with for my initial book! After brooding for several days, I decided to recreate my book using the new Picaboo. It has been relatively simple, because the photos were already uploaded and the same backgrounds were still there. I love that the photos fit into the layout placeholders without a lot of messing around with re-sizing. So, I am excited about Picaboo and will use it again.

Although it took time to recreate the book, my pictures were all available and easy to place on pages.
The picture shows two examples of book pages with the seamless lay-flat pages including the two-page spread that looks like a single picture.

My new updated Picaboo Christmas Puzzles book arrived and it is gorgeous! The colors are bright and vivid. I am so glad that I redid it.

Now I have seamless lay-flat pages. Photos are not disrupted by the center seaming in the spine and flipping through the book is so much nicer. Note how the seamless layflat style allows the two-page spread to appear as a single image.

Because I had a Groupon for the first book, I didn’t feel terrible ordering a new one. It is well worth the $94.74 plus $9 shipping, but Groupon saved me quite a bit of money. I would encourage checking out Groupon for any Picaboo project.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Anita for her interesting, informative, and detailed blog post. We welcome suggestions and posts from other photocrafters! Let us know what you’ve tried, what worked and what didn’t, what you’d like to do.

Mother’s Day 2021

Now is a perfect time to do a photocrafting project for your mother! Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9, 2021 in the United States. Although we missed the date in the U.K., March 14, these photocrafting ideas are good for many occasions! It’s a round-up of three of our previous creations with an emphasis on our mothers!

First gather some photos. How about the youngest ones in the family, drawings from children (always one of my favorites), a family portrait, a favorite vacation memory. I gathered a couple photos in each category to consider. I loved the flowers and thought the two girls were especially adorable in this photo. The penguins seemed to have more interesting potential for a photocrafted gift than the beautiful snow.

Six family photos show a child's drawing of flowers, a child's drawing of a family, a family portrait, two young girls, snow covered mountains, and penguins in the wild.
A selection of favorite photos offers several possibilities for photocrafting a Mother’s Day gift!
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Easter Pillows

Three images of pillows that are examples of good Easter or spring gifts.
It’s spring! It’s Easter time. What a great occasion to share a photocrafted gift with someone.

I started on today’s project unexpectedly because I got an ad for a free 12×12 pillow from Canvas People. What photocrafter could resist a new project with “free” thrown in? I thought immediately of a friend’s birthday this spring. It would be fun to make her a pillow — and we have shared lots of great hikes so I have lots of photos.

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Eating Your Photos!

OhMyGosh, I just found the best new photocrafting site. (New to me, anyway.) Inkedibles.com is definitely fun! Their products are exactly what the name proclaims — ink you can eat. Of course I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had just the occasion, our 42nd anniversary. I quickly dug out a couple of pictures of us in our first home and had visions of celebrating with a cake like you see above.

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Photocraft a Sweet Treat

What’s more fun than offering sweets to your valentines? Maybe you bake cookies for your grandchildren or buy a box of chocolates for your mom. For us, it’s another opportunity for photocrafting! Here’s a great idea to do with your kids. Or to make something fun for your own sweetie! It’s a Lollipop Card!

These cute cards are fairly simple. All you do is have your child pose like they are handing something to you. Upload the photo to your computer or do it from your phone. Add HAPPY VALENTINE’S to the photo and print them out at home or through a printing service (in town or online). Then you just poke the lollipop through  where the hand is. It looks like the person is handing you the lollipop.

Four examples of photo cards, each with a lollipop attached.
Pinterest points to many blogs for Lollipop cards. Thanks to woo!, Wonderful DIY, Erika, and for Joseph for their examples.
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