Last year I was so pleased with the photo block ornaments I made that I couldn’t get other projects out of my mind. And yes, this is what life is like with a small child. You get around to that kind of thing a year later. Anyway…
A block puzzle seemed like a perfect way to apply the same technique, and I’m pleased as punch with the outcome.
You will need wooden blocks from the craft store, mod podge and foam brushes, six pictures and a printer and paper to print them with, and a paper cutter.
First, choose your blocks. These blocks come in 1″ and 1.5″ sizes. The 1″ blocks come in bags of 16 at Hobby Lobby, just right for a 4×4 puzzle, though I recommend you buy an extra bag because sometimes you get a dud block that isn’t really an inch square (see the lower right side of the first picture in this post). The 1.5″ blocks would make a great 3×3 puzzle. They come packaged in bags of 8, but since it’s wise to have spares on hand anyway, this isn’t really a problem.
Now choose six pictures for your puzzle. You will need to crop and re-size them to fit on your puzzle blocks, and you do it this way:
1. Crop the picture to get rid of any extra parts you don’t want on your puzzle
2. Resize the picture so the smallest dimension is 4″ (for a 4×4 puzzle of 1″ blocks) or 4.5″ (for a 3×3 puzzle of 1.5″ blocks)
3. Resize the “canvas” so it is square–that cuts off the extra bits of the longer dimension.
Now print your pictures. I used regular printer paper, which didn’t provide optimum results. If you have nicer photo paper, it is probably worth using, though you do want to use a thin paper so that the edges decoupage as smoothly as possible.
Now sit down with your pictures and your paper cutter. If you live in scrapbooking-world, you know that plastic paper cutters are now cheap and widely available at craft stores; I have the pink and green one from Provo Craft. If you have an old fashioned wooden block one with a slicer, more power to you.
Cut your first picture into 1″ or 1.5″ squares. ACCURACY IS ESSENTIAL. A square that is slightly too large will have to be trimmed or decoupaged smoothly over the edge of the block you will lose a portion of your picture, while a square cut too small will expose some wooden block in your picture and also make it hard to get the square correctly positioned on the top of your block.
Now begin to decoupage your first picture. With your foam brush spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on a block, lay a picture square on it, and carefully smooth it down, making sure it’s perfectly positioned on the block. A thin layer of Mod Podge minimizes wrinkling which is good; unfortunately it also dries quickly and doesn’t give you much opportunity to re-position. If you absolutely must, you can peel the picture square off the block and try again, but this will make the edges prone to curl.
Decoupage all 16 or 9 picture squares to all 16 or 9 blocks, then cover the pictures with another layer of Mod Podge, running your fingers along the edges to smooth and seal them.
Let your blocks dry for at least two hours, then come back and do the second picture, and then the third, etc. until all six sides have pictures affixed to them. You’re done!
I strongly recommend cutting up only one picture at a time, by the way. It would be too easy for all those little paper squares to get mixed up, otherwise…